Up until about 1972, vinyl flooring and asbestos had a close relationship. Asbestos was used in the backing underneath vinyl flooring surfaces.
So, if you have an older vinyl floor, what do you need to know? Before you panic, take a look at these 5 facts:
1. Simply having asbestos under your vinyl flooring isn’t a threat to your health
The only time asbestos is dangerous is when it gets loose into the air. If it’s contained underneath your solid vinyl flooring, you don’t have to worry about it. However, if you try to remove the vinyl flooring, the asbestos will get loose into the air, and you could wind up with a serious problem on your hands.
2. You don’t necessarily have to remove vinyl flooring that has asbestos underneath it
As long as the floor is in good condition, you can just lay new flooring over it. That way, you don’t have to deal with removing it. Since vinyl flooring is so thin, it’s not difficult to lay new flooring over it.
However, if your old flooring is chipped or crumbling, you will need to remove it before you lay down a new floor.
3. Before you try to remove any old vinyl flooring, have it tested for asbestos
You can either take a piece of your floor to a testing lab, or have a professional come to your house and inspect it. Taking it to a lab is cheaper, with most labs charging $15-$30 to test a sample.
To safely get a sample of your flooring to a lab, use a utility knife to cut off a piece of flooring that’s 1” long and about 1/8” wide. Make sure you have all of the layers of flooring – including the backing and adhesives.
Have a spray bottle of water on hand, so that dust doesn’t get into the air. Then, put the sample in a plastic bag and close it tightly.
4. If asbestos is an issue with your vinyl flooring, call a professional
The presence of asbestos means you can’t handle the removal yourself. You will need a certified asbestos abatement contractor. There are lots of safety regulations that deal with the removal and disposal of asbestos, so you need someone who can get rid of your flooring safely and legally.
5. The key to removing vinyl flooring with asbestos is to work slowly
Since kicking up dust is dangerous, your pro will have to work slowly – with a lot of water on hand to limit the dust that gets into the air. Your pro will also need to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to make sure the every tiny particle gets removed.