Forum Title: Vinyl, uneven subfloor?
Hi, I've been trying to find the answer to my question and have seen other threads started by people with similar issues, but haven't found something that addresses my exact issue, so I hope someone can help. Our house has tons of old vinyl on the floors. It looks like the previous owner would just stick tiles on top of tiles. We want to install a floating engineered wood floor, but we don't want to take up the vinyl because we're pretty sure there is asbestos linoleum underneath, on the bottom layer. The floor is very uneven, especially in the kitchen where the tiles were put in after the cabinets, which means that there is a gap of about an inch and a half from where the cabinets used to be and rest of the kitchen. My question is, what are our options? The filler products say only use for 1/2 inch or less variations. We've heard mixed opinions on whether a self leveler will work. Getting someone in to do asbestos remediation for that whole area is completely out of our budget. I've seen people refer to just pouring new concrete over existing flooring, but i dont know if that is a good idea, either. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Category: Flooring Post By: JORGE PEARSON (Hollywood, FL), 02/27/2019

Best way to check for asbestos is cut out a small section and take it to a lab. Linoleum is an all natural product made of a composition of wood flour, linseed oil, gums ans other organic ingredients, not to be confused with sheet vinyl. But I doubt anyone not in that field of the industry can recognize it readily. There are other saheet goods that had backings made of asbestos and the old 9 x 9 tiles. Generally not the peel and stick stuff. It is also the black looking cutback adhesive that has some asbestos in it. As far as burying it all, I wiuld not try and bury anything that is not solidly adhered, especially multiple layers. Take it down if safe, then lay new plywood over top.

- NATALIE PARKS (Nashville, TN), 04/03/2019

Are you on a slab of concrete or is there plywood or plank subfloors? Of course you ought to have the floor tested for asbestos. It's not as expensive as you expect. If it's clean tear EVERYTHING out and start fresh. Solutions depend very specifically on what's there and how easily layers can be removed without disturbing the asbestos. Home owners in most location have the legal right to remove asbestos and there are SAFE handling instructions available all over the internet. Generally they're only applicable where the flooring is essentially just laying there and can be EASILY peeled/scraped off and carried off in large, secure pieces. For example many, if not most resilient tiles when sufficiently heated can be lifted/scraped up FULL TILE. Doing this after misting with water keeps down any dust so there's negligible exposure. Often, large sections of sheet vinyl/ linoleum are laying for decades over crystallized, meaning DEAD, dry adhesives. It just takes the right type of scraping tool and the right angle to lift it away. On the other hand MANY, if not most flooring is stuck down so hard and well you need specialized demolition equipment AND some degree of experience/expertise to get the floor, patching compounds and adhesives out of there. No installer or manufacturer of flooring, glue or patch can warranty the COMPATIBILITY or suitability of laying new products over old flooring, backings, patch or residual adhesives. Going over top IF YOU ARE ON A WOOD SUBFLOOR the best way is to nail down plywood right through the existing coverings where removal is cost prohibitive. Hard to say for sure if you can do that properly given your description of multiple layers of peel and stick tiles. In some instances one or two layers of tile/sheet goods can be removed leaving the layer of asbestos material fairly undisturbed. If you're on a slab of concrete for a subfloor you're not going to have that easy way out of nailing down some new, high quality plywood underlayment for a fresh start. In that case you have to re-examine your choices of floor covering to something designed to float over the existing mess. I think you need an expert ON SITE to give this a thorough examination and list for you the various options. Everything we might suggest is contingent on a lot of unseen and unknown variables. Good luck.

- ANGELA PEREZ (Edinburg, TX), 05/15/2019

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