Asbestos in floor tiles of 50+ year old home - please advise ...

Hello,
We bought our home (built in 1950) a year and a half ago. This past week, we were in the process of getting estimates for a ceramic tile floor to replace our peeling vinyl tiles in our kitchen, bathroom, and mudroom, when we discovered that beneath this vinyl floor, there exists another floor. One of the tile stores that came out to estimate the job explained that these were old 9x9 asphalt tiles and were secured by a thick black gooey mastic. In the estimate provided, he quoted $350 to remove the existing two layers of floor, including these old asphalt tiles. After visiting several other tile stores in our quest for a new floor, we were alarmed to be told that these old tiles & mastic are almost certain to contain asbestos. We'll be contacting an inspector tomorrow to get this tested.
We do not consider simply tiling over these existing floors to be an option. For one thing, the condition of both the top vinyl floor as well as the asphalt tiles are very poor and will not provide an adequate foundation for a new subfloor and ceramic tiles. So, we'll need to contact a qualified asbestos abatement company to remove the old tiles. I was wondering if anyone reading this has had experience with asbestos tile removal, and if they could offer any insight into the cost of removal. The total square feet of the affected area is about 250 feet.
Thank you, Jennifer in New Hampshire
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powerjenn wrote:

My company often has to do asbestos abatement of VA tiles during remodels of city projects, etc. It is about the only time that this type of tile is abated due to the cost. Your floor will probably cost between $1,000-1,500 to have it removed. Check with an abatement company for actual prices.
If possible, the floor should just be sealed and then go over it with a floor leveler to create a surface for your ceramic tiles. Most tile installers remove this themselves and dispose of the asbestos tiles and mastic. I have never seen a tile installer call in an abatement company (a special field, licensed by the state).
The asbestos tiles have been in use for longer than I have been in business (over 30 years) and have been in public buildings and homes for decades with no ill effect. The asbestos only becomes friable (airborne) if disturbed, sanded, burned, etc. It is stable while installed on your floor. The name of the tile is Vinyl Asbestos tile. That gives you a clue as to its content.
Remember that you do not even know that this is VA tile at this point. Even if it is, there is nothing to be alarmed about.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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How's the subfloor? Is it structurally sound with no flex? If so, just install wonderboard on top of the old floor so nothing has to be removed.
If you hire an asbestos abatement company it'll cost a fortune.
Did the tile store say they wouldn't touch the job?
The asbestos tiles won't create any health risks unless they're shredded or ripped.
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If the tile store is legitimate why question what he saw and base your decision on something a sales clerk is assuming? Your quote of $350 to remove both layers seems fair and an air quality test can be done afterwards if you are troubled by the process.
Bill
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I'd not contact an inspector just yet. Chances are the tiles are asbestos as they were very common back then. Certain types of asbestos can be removed and safely landfilled with no special abatement procedures other than double bagging. Do some investigating first. The wrong decision could end up costing you a lot of money for no good reason.
Only if the tiles are broken or torn is the asbestos possibly released to the air. There are a couple of web pages that outline the proper handling of tiles and siding. IIRC, the EPS has information on it; I saw it but never bookmarked it.
I'd probably pay the $350 and be done with it. It is a situation where people sometimes panic when the hear "asbestos", but in fact, in solid form like your tiles it is inert and perfectly safe. It is when the fibers get loose and you breath them that problems may eventually occur.
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I had a similar situation in my house. The biggest problem was the fumes from the asphalt mastic after I removed the tiles. No one could stand being in the room. JASCO (about $25.00 a gallon) makes a tile adhesive remover, which will easily loosen the adhesive, but scooping the goop up has to be one of the worst home improvement projects I have ever undertaken.
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joists, and start over. Of course, this means pulling the base cabinets and such in most cases, but if entire kitchen is being redone anyway, an option worth considering. This <does> mean sawing through the VA tile, but if you work it wet (spray mister), and have a helper hold a shop vac hose right by the saw, the mess is suprisingly minimal. Just saw floor between joists in chunks small enough to rock and crowbar out. Bonus is you end up with a flatter, stiffer floor, using modern adhesives and decking, screwed down. (Nails under ceramic are best avoided, IMHO.
aem sends....
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powerjenn wrote:

If you call an inspector, you run the risk of having your house condemed. At a minimum, if you know for sure you have asbestos, you are obligated to tell subsequent buyers of the house (for all I know, you may also have to tell any guests and run the risk of having your children taken away from you). If you are officially told you have asbestos, the entire piddly project just went up in cost by several thousand dollars and many additional months of bureacratic shuffling.
Even if you have all the asbestos removed, you may still have to disclose. It will be like telling prospective buyers you discovered graves in the backyard, but all is okay now because you had the remains re-located.
Try to put cemet or other leveling over the suspect tiles. If you REALLY have to have the tiles-of-unknown-material removed, hire someone who will NOT tell you they think the tiles are asbestos.
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First thing, dont go for the inspector. It can really cost you in the long run. Asbestos removal, disclosure when selling the home etc.
In any case there are a few ways to handle this stuff. (BTW some of the black cutback adhesives has asbestos in it too.... EVERYTHING was made better with asbestos then!)
What I did was to first remove the tiles whole. Using a dry ice block attached to a rigged up 2 x 4 frame to hold it, I was able to put it onto a tile, let it sit for a minute and the tile would pop off. (apparently the glue's properties end when its frozen)
With some luck it mostly stays on the tile too. In any case wearing a nice respirator and having a shop vac handy sucking air outside. If some tiles broke, spray then with water and dispose.
In your case with 650 to remove the whole thing? Go for it. What I did was a pain in the ass! I get too involved with my own projects sometimes...
Tom
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