Best Way to Cover Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT) in Basement?

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Posted by: from Union
3/11/2013 at 3:58:09 PM

We just bought a home built in 1940, and the basement has wall-to-wall vinyl tiles that we have been told by our inspector "definitely contain asbestos."

Most of the tiles are in perfectly fine condition. There are a few that have some big chips in them (but don't seem to be otherwise damaged or falling apart). There are also a few tiles that seem to have some small "bubbles" on the surface (but are not cracked open).

I'd prefer to encapsulate them and then put a new floating vinyl floor over them. However, I have seen many different theories for what to use to encapsulate the VATs.

Any advice on what to use to cover the floor before laying new floor on top would be helpful.

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Date/Time3/11/2013 at 5:19:45 PM

Worse thing you could do is remove them yourself. Use a qualified removal company if necessary. You can paint over them with a good quality floor paint, 2 coats, then use a moisture barrier, and apply your floating floor.

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Andrew in Union
Date/Time3/11/2013 at 6:26:29 PM

Oh I agree; I would not want to remove them myself. I have heard many stories that even if the tiles come up undamaged, the mastic used to glue them to the cement slab is actually worse than the tiles themselves in terms of asbestos. I am trying to avoid removing them at all (even professionally).

Do you have any specific recommendations of what paint I could use as a sealant over the floor?

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Frank from Whole House Pros Inc. in Elliottsburg
Date/Time3/11/2013 at 8:08:52 PM

My experience is to use an "Elastomeric Coating" similar to the ones we use to renovate exterior surfaces such as rubber roofing and block walls. These materials will not chip, crack, or peal and will last a lifetime indoors.

Frank A. Magnelli

Whole House Pros

PA Contractors Registration #PA 094152

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Date/Time3/11/2013 at 11:33:04 PM

To start you should not even think about keeping the tile. The tile has to be removed and brought to the correct dump site. It can be costly, but just think about your health. Is it worth getting cancer, I would hope not.

So the correct answer is have it removed, you will not regret you choice.

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Andrew in Union
Date/Time3/11/2013 at 11:44:51 PM


I certainly appreciate your advice and concern, but I have heard from MANY sources that, unless absolutely necessary (i.e., the tile is severely damaged or crumbling), it is actually a worse idea to remove the tile than to just encapsulate it. Once the tiles begin to be removed, fibers can escape into the air and the mastic itself can prove to be quite dangerous.

Even with hiring a professional, there is no guarantee that there won't be any problems and releasing the fibers is the real issue.

If the tiles are kept whole and undisturbed then I won't have any health concerns.

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About Time Home Improvement in Bellmore
Date/Time3/12/2013 at 7:00:06 AM

You can use a self leveling concrete to encapsulate it. This product can be poured over entire surface and it sets ready for finish flooring.

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Date/Time3/12/2013 at 1:39:02 PM


In response to your question, we have installed many floors over existing asbestos tiles. The typical method that we use is do not disturb the floor at all. With this in mind carefully apply Henry Unipro universal patch and skim coat. If this product if troweled properly will create a very stable all very level surface. This will insure an expert installation and a safe environment for your family.

Brad Howell Builders and remodelers

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Date/Time3/13/2013 at 1:26:51 PM

Remove that first... you DO NOT want that in your house if you can help it!!

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Kelly from CRU Kustom Workz in Honolulu
Date/Time3/1/2014 at 2:07:40 PM

What I would do in this situation is "OVERLAY" the existing material with a thin three ply membrane composed of polypropylene, fiberglass scrim, and aluminum membrane called (ABS) to trap the entire area.

Here is a link for you to understand more of what this product is capable of - Then I would build a floating subfloor (check out this link - "" for ideas) over that.

Removing asbestos vinyl tiles consist of a lot of work and very costly since you have to get a specialist to remove them. There is a method used in the old days which consist of watering the material and scraping the tile, not sanding it. Here is a link you can look over -

What ever way you choose, making sure its done right will aid in low health risks.

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