Remove Asbestos tile or cover it?
Dear Concord Carpenter,
My home was built in ’56 with a tile floor basement that is asbestos. During floods, many of these tiles came floating by. I just had French drains installed on the interior perimeter of my basement. We have studded out a room as my brother is coming to live with us. My question is-am I better to put floor tiles where the missing ones are and then put linoleum or indoor/outdoor carpet over them as opposed to ripping up a a large amount of asbestos tiles?
The floor tiles your referring to are common in older homes. Asbestos floor tiles are generally considered safe as well as legal to keep in buildings as long as they are intact and in good condition. Asbestos is dangerous when the product it is in is damaged.
Disturbing asbestos floor tiles through remodeling can release asbestos fibers, as does scraping or breaking of the asbestos tile flooring during the removal process.
Having a professional test your floor tiles for asbestos may be useful, especially if you decide to cover the it over. You may find that the tiles do not contain asbestos.
If you test for asbestos and determine or maybe just think that your tiles contains asbestos BUT they are in good shape, one option is to leave it alone.
Generally, floor tiles in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. When making your decision about asbestos tile removal look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration [washing machine] or air flow.
Asbestos Tile Removal:
Important Note: Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.
If the floor tiles are damaged or disturbed, say in a remodel, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.
If the asbestos floor tiles are more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb the floor tiles, repair or removal by a professional is needed.
Covering Over Asbestos Floor Tile:
Your idea of covering the tiles is a good one. Asbestos floor tiles that are in good condition and will not be disturbed should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be tested and safely removed.
Covering the asbestos tiles is certainly less expensive than removal. Just remember that removal will have to occur at some point. When it comes time to sell the house the asbestos tile removal issue may come back to haunt you.