The following is a recent inquiry we received from a dealer about vinyl asbestos tile (VAT).
Dealer: We have attended your seminars several times over the years and read your column in every issue of FCNews. We recently bid on a job to remove existing tile and put new tile down. We told them we must know if it is asbestos or not before we can go further and that we could go over it but that is not their preference.
Lew Migliore: If the existing tile is down tight with no indication of a moisture issue you can go over the existing tile, which would be the easiest and least troublesome route to take. If the tile is on or above grade however you must assume there is some moisture present and going over existing flooring with a new tile can cause complete failure unless you use an installation system that will not be affected by moisture.
D: Is there somewhere we can find information on which years 12 X 12 tiles had asbestos in them?
LM: VAT were produced as late as 1980 in 12 x 12 sizes and were most popular from about 1940 to 1980. You can also find a lot of good information through a Google search.
D: Can you tell us about disposing questionable tile, meaning if we do not know for sure that it contains asbestos?
LM: You must definitely know if the tile is VAT or not. If it has to be removed and disposed of it will have to be done by experts who are licensed to do this type of work. This type of work is an expensive and involved undertaking.
D: There are places where there are corners peaking. If we went over the existing tile, what would be the safest way to handle that?
LM: If corners are peaked you could carefully break them off, patch the space and install over what is left. If there is black adhesive beneath the tiles, known as cut back, it too could contain asbestos. It would be best to hire an expert familiar with VAT to inspect the material and installation so they can advise you.
This would be for your benefit, as well as the end user’s. This is something you don’t want to fool around with and get wrong because the consequences can put you out of business. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.
D: In some of the areas, there is glue down carpet over the existing tile. Would that have to be taken up to scrape the glue off of the existing tile underneath the carpet?
LM: This is true. Glued down carpet can be removed and the old adhesive holding it down can be scraped up. A high quality adhesive should be used to install the new product.
Since carpet with woven backing is permeable, it will allow any moisture vapor emission to pass through the carpet without consequence. If it was installed tightly before, that installation should be possible again. The new adhesives available today are much better than those of the past.
VAT is not something you should get involved with unless you take the necessary precautions by calling in an expert to give you advice. Ignoring the possibility of asbestos can get you into trouble and jeopardize your business.
The answers here are brief because of space constraints. If you need help or have questions on any flooring or substrate issue, contact us. We can help and get you answers.