If you have an older building, there’s a good chance you have the dreaded 9”x9” vinyl asbestos tiles or other asbestos flooring installed somewhere…with cutback adhesive underneath, which, most likely has asbestos in it as well. Before you engage an abatement company or do anything with the floor, here are a few important things to know:
- Chemical abatements cost less upfront but more down the road. They pose the risk of a flooring failure with your new installation AND may void your warranty on your new flooring. Why is this?
- The solvent-based abatement chemicals can penetrate into the concrete, later affecting the integrity of the newly installed floor.
- On top of that, if it’s a slab-on-grade and it’s an older building (prior to the mid-90s), there is likely no moisture barrier, and moisture can come up through the slab, carrying more of the abatement chemicals with it, and cause a flooring failure. So what do you do instead?
- Choose mechanical abatement! By removing the “hot” material by mechanical rather than chemical means, you can install a new floor and keep your warranty as well as your peace of mind. Flooring failures are exorbitantly expensive and challenging.
- Even if you do a mechanical abatement, it’s a best practice to apply a sealer made specifically for cut-back adhesive residue.
- For your flooring, if it’s on-grade, use moisture-friendly flooring because you no longer have the moisture-friendly cut-back adhesive and vinyl asbestos. If you cover over the abated slab with a non-permeable surface, like sheet goods or vinyl tile or plank, you may well have a flooring failure six months later, because you had a moisture issue with the slab all along and didn’t know it.
- A great option instead is fleece-back carpet tile, which allows moisture to breathe through, and has warranties up to extremely high RH levels. That is a far less expensive option than applying moisture mitigating floor prep, which often costs more than the flooring itself!
- If you decide to not abate, and instead leave the floor undisturbed, there are options to cover over it and use tabs rather than glue for installation.
So — wait before you abate! Talk to your technically savvy flooring contractor first and ensure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure down the road.
Please let us know if you have any questions on this topic or anything flooring-related. We’re flooring geeks who are obsessed with customer service and want to help in any way we can!