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Asbestos & Floors: What You Need to Know

Ask Ken: Should I Be Concerned About the Asbestos in My Floors?

Ken's Quick Answer:

"Asbestos is scary. But the best solution may be to simply cover up your existing floor. If you have questions, make sure to contact a professional."

Ken's In-Depth Answer:

Today, I want to talk to you about something that some people may find a little bit scary: Asbestos in your floor. Any vinyl floor that was installed before 1991 has a good chance of containing asbestos. It's probably somewhere in the backing or the adhesive.

That's just the way they did things back then. Now, with all the concerns about asbestos, people say 'well, what am I gonna do?' I've even had people with old tile in a basement say 'I've got to get it out of there! It's asbestos on the floor—that's dangerous!'

Well, there are a couple of things you need to know. The first thing is, if the asbestos is down nice and solid, you really don't have anything to worry about. It's not like asbestos gives off some harmful gas or powder coming off the surface. (If it's cracked, broken, or compromised in any way, that's a different story!)

"Any vinyl floor that was installed before 1991 has a good chance at containing asbestos. It's probably somewhere in the backing or the adhesive."

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Asbestos is only dangerous when it crumbles and the particulate goes into the air and you inhale it. That's where you run the risk of getting mesothelioma.

So, how do you deal with asbestos in a floor? Well, most of the time, the best answer is to cover it up. For instance, if you're installing carpet or a floating floor you can put it on top. If the current floor is rough or patchy (or you have a broken tile that you can lift up with your hand and isn't crumbly) you can take a cementitious patch and fill in the gaps. After that, again, the best strategy is to simply cover it up.

On the other hand, if you have a floor that's really deteriorated, that's something that needs to be handled by a professional. Contact a licensed abatement company. If you have any questions, chances are that there's a lab in your community where they can do a test and tell you what you actually have on your floor.

Don't worry about asbestos. If you can, cover it up. If you can't, then get it removed and make sure that you have a professional do it.

If you have any questions about asbestos and flooring, don't hesitate to give us a call at 401-214-0285 or visit our showroom."

Ken Fain smiling and wearing a green and yellow collared shirt

About Ken: Ken Fain is the co-owner of Island Carpet in Middletown, RI and a floorcovering veteran of more than 40 years. His popular 'Ask Ken' video series answers common flooring questions on a variety of topics. It has reached thousands of viewers on both YouTube and Facebook.

Ken Fain wearing collared shirt and a Great Dane

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