What to do about a 30 year old Armstrong linoleum kitchen floor.

Answered by Brett ~ May 30, 2010 ~ Comments

What is best way to put in a new floor into a kitchen that has a 30 yr old Armstrong linolium floor (with asbestos in it)? My client wants to sell this house within 1 or 2 years. One installer recommended gluing a new linolium floor over it. My question is this: if a new buyer a year or two down the road wants to rip out the kitchen and re-do it, will this make it more difficult and costly for them?

Sue ~ Boston, Massachusetts

Brett Kulina

Sue, installing a new kitchen floor over an existing linoleum floor is not that difficult and there are several flooring options that will suffice. However, because you suspect that the linoleum floor might contain asbestos, as many older linoleums do, it is imperative that you have a licensed asbestos mitigation contractor test for the presence of asbestos in your client's kitchen floor prior to doing anything else. There is a proven track record of serious health problems for those who have had even limited exposure to asbestos, and many fatal health conditions have been directly linked to moderate or excessive asbestos exposure.

Once a professional asbestos mitigation contractor has tested your client's linoleum floor and inspected it carefully, then the contractor can make recommendations about what to do with the floor. If the flooring does contain asbestos, but it is in very good shape with no cracks, chips, or frays, then the contractor may recommend that the floor stay in place and simply be recovered with a new flooring. If the floor contains asbestos but is in poor shape, then I would bet that a mitigation contractor would recommend removing the flooring completely.

Your concerns about how a floor containing asbestos might impact a future buyer of this home are valid, especially if you are a licensed real estate agent. Both you and your client are obligated to disclose any adverse material facts, such as the potential presence of asbestos in the home, to any potential buyer of this property. This is why it is best to shift the burden of responsibility to a licensed asbestos mitigation contractor and follow their recommendations after they have tested a flooring sample from your client's linoleum floor for asbestos.

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