Subfloor Over (possible) Asbestos

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Posted by: from Saskatoon
2/26/2013 at 6:14:29 PM


We recently moved into an older home (1950s) and were planning on replacing some laminate flooring. The floor has old linoleum under the laminate, which may or may not be asbestos. We need to put a new subfloor down as the kitchen has had one added and we want all the floors to be at the same level.

My question is, can we place a subfloor over the linoleum without having an asbestos remediator come out, or will the screws disturb the fibers if it is in fact asbestos?


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Date/Time2/26/2013 at 7:37:30 PM


Great question! Any type of disturbance to an asbestos containing material has the potential to make asbestos fibers become airborne. Saying that I feel the best option for you would be to get the suspected ACM tested, this shouldn't cost you more than $50-100 for a single test and when the inspector is there he should be able to give you a rough idea if there is any other asbestos containing materials in your home if there's any other renovations you are planning in the future.

The asbestos content of the flooring is another good thing to know about it before going further with possibly disturbing it and if there is asbestos present than perhaps a few tubes of PL subfloor glue with a few wetted down screws would be a better idea then a fury of screws being penetrated through the floor.

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Date/Time2/26/2013 at 7:43:28 PM

We would not recommend installing a new subfloor layer over any existing flooring material. If the material is asbestos it is one of the least expensive asbestos removal processes.

You can have a piece of the flooring tested for asbestos at a laboratory for about $100.00. If the results of the test are negative then you wouldnt need to waste your money on a removal expert.

We would not leave existing flooring in place under any circumstances, asbestos or not.

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Date/Time2/26/2013 at 7:46:37 PM

This a question a lot of home owners ask.

Asbestos is only harmful when airborne and in your case possible asbestos in the backing, not the linoleum. You are putting down subfloor then screwing through it and into the linoleum/subfloor so the chances of it becoming airborne is extremely minimal. If you were to remove the linoleum and start sanding off the backing from the substrate below, that is a whole different ballgame.

I was once told by a building technologist; there is more asbestos in the air standing at an intersection from car brakes than on most job sites!

Good luck with your project!

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Date/Time2/26/2013 at 7:55:07 PM

Removing the old linoleum will disturb the fibers more than leaving it in place.

You are installing plywood overtop of it, so put a layer of plastic sheathing down prior to laying the ply.

When you screw down the ply any fibers will be held below.

If this was my house, this is exactly what I would do. Now I have had clients ask me to remove these materials. And we have suited up and sealed the area off completely. Then had a large vacume going in a truck outside as we did the work.

But as carefull as any company is, there will still be more fibers around after removal than if you properly covered it up.


James Fram

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Date/Time2/26/2013 at 8:42:10 PM

If the flooring was installed in the 1950s it almost definitely contains asbestos, non asbestos containing products were only introduced in the late 70s and became mandatory in the 80s, you can send a sample off to a lab for confirmation for around $40.

The best case scenario would be to have the asbestos removed by a professional abatement company. Screwing into it will decontain it and cause it disperse throughout the air, which will present a safety hazard to you and your family. Depending on the circumstances you may be able to glue down plywood, a sub frame or transition strips over it to avoid the removal cost.

In any case, treat the asbestos with care, even a very small amount can be dangerous.

Good Luck!

Tim Berger

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Date/Time2/27/2013 at 7:19:04 AM

In my own opinion i leave it to the expert who had more knowledge about it get those guys to investigate then get them to install subfloor then if you have the knowing to do the laminate then u install it. This guys that knows they can get in and our in a day or two for me less head ache and they take the mess away.

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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time2/27/2013 at 8:01:48 AM

My God .... Why cut corners with your health?

For $100 to $150 have it tested by an accredited lab.

If the tile or glue contains asbestos get it removed.

Is saving a few hundred dollars worth the health effects on you, your family and every friend that visits?

If it doesn't then install your new flooring.

Cutting corners just for the aesthetics of how the floor is going to look is the wrong approach



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