I would like to finish my basement floor. The basement does not have
any problems with water or leaking.
Here's my problem. House built in 1939. Basement is semi-finished with
floor covered with cracking/peeling vinyl asbestos tiles. There are
several areas of the concrete that bulge upward, approximately 1/2 inch
higher than the rest of the floor, making the floor uneven. I have
approximately 7 feet of clearance from the floor to the ceiling. I have
a few ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions?
1. Forget about the vinyl asbestos tile and install a subfloor (like
the dricore interlocking system) using their spacers to make up the
difference in floor heights. Or is 1/2 inch too much to make up with
2. Scrape up the vinyl asbestos tile, use a leveling compound to level
the floor (anyone have a suggestion about what kind of company does
this kind of leveling?), then install sleepers and a subfloor.
3. Scrape up the vinyl asbestos tile and hack out the areas of
raised/heaved concrete with a sledge hammer and chisel, then fill in
these areas with a concrete patching compound.
By the way, does anyone know if vinyl asbestos tiles are dangerous to
deal with. I've read that because the asbestos is in the vinyl it's not
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT) and the mastic used to set it can be a
problem with authorities.
The material should be double bagged, marked as VAT, & disposed of in
areas designated by the landfill folk. Using a spud to scrape up the
tile, thus keeping it in big pieces, wearing a resperator ( since it's
in an enclosed space ), closing off any air ducts comes close to
government requirements for containment.
Encapsulation, that is covering it up, is acceptable and cheaper.
The 7'-0" head room is a problem if you want to have a space called
"habitable" by code in the basement. (Sleeping rooms require emergency
escape openings in addition.).
If I wanted to make a nice set of spaces, I'd look at removing the VAT
and having the high spots ground flat.
a) I don't think that the VAT police are going to come in the night for
you if you are a do-it-yourselfer in your own home.
b) I prefer to remove these things instead of encapsulate them. Why?
If you do choose to encapsulate you will need to disclose the knowledge
that the house contains asbestos to the next homeowner.
c) firstname.lastname@example.org is right about the headroom. You might find
that your house is worth a lot less money when you go to sell it if
your basement ceiling height is less than seven feet. I even know
people with a 6' basement which have gone through the trouble of
digging out the basement by hand to make it over 7' with a new poured
Hope this helps,
Locally it is illegal for a homeowner to remove ANY asbestos-containing
material (siding or tile). It MUST be removed by an authorized
professional. The stupid thing is this, they do nothign other than what you
described. Go to a payphone and call the local inspector.
Thanks for your advice, guys. TB, when you talk about grinding the
elevated spots flat, are you talking about using the hammer and chisel
method, or some easier way with some kind of power tool that I'm
Also, for removing vinyl asbestos, do you need anything more than a
scraper, or is that usually enough? Do you need a heat gun or anything
to losen them up?
My father was in the flooring business. He removed lots of vinyl
asbstos tile. Thiw was before all the scare tactics used to make
someone rich. You are correct. The asbestos is contained in the
vinyl. As long as you dont sand or grind it, its safe. Just scrape
the tiles up full or in pieces. A heat gun might help. Get a wide
and durable scraper. My dad made his own by sharpening the end of a
piece of broken auto leaf spring. (local junk yard or service
To get rid of the floor bumps, there is a grinder that is used for
streets. Its a large drivable machine. However, I think they do make
a small version (electric). Check your local tool rental place. Or
rent a concrete saw, and set the blade for 1/8" deep and start cutting
grooves. Finish with a chisel and top with hydraulic cement. Of
course remove the tile first or you will release asbestos dust.
Cutting concrete is very messy, so be prepared.
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