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Floor Tile/Glue Update

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Hi all. Just wanted to give you guys an info update for anyone interested on our removal process of our bivyl composition tiles and the mastic glue. I just finished removing 1800 sq. ft. mastic glue from our floors after removing the tiles.
Tried to do my research regarding asbestos amounts in the tiles and in the glue and got lots of similar info....seems like the tiles have maybe 3 or 4% asbestos and the glue, maybe 40-50% asbestos.
Using a handled metal scraper that I purchased at Home Depot specifically designed for the job, I popped those tiles right off. In fact, very few of them even cracked. I wore my mask of course. My city offers a free toxic waste program so I was able to dispose of the tiles appropriately.
For the glue, I used a product called Jasco Sealant Remover ($22 a gallon!!!). It is in a water-soluble liquid form, which is good, because once it picks off all the glue, you can scrape it to the next section without letting any asbestos airborne. This took FOREVER. Not for the weak kneed. I also wore a respirator with a vapor filter on it because those fumes are pretty nasty. I scraped up the used remover with a metal dustpan (this stuff eats anything plastic) into chemical resistant 5 gallon paint drums, later pouring them back into the original metal containers that the glue came in. Did I mention this took FOREVER?
$$$ wise I would say that this project probably cost me at least $600. But I feel it was worth it because grinding the glue off really was not an option for me, though some flooring companies said it was.

I think it is also important to know that if you've ever wondered if you could just remove all the glue and have a bare slab to walk on, you can, but you won't be able to get rid of the glue marks/stains. Also equally important, if you plan on pouring a new concrete flooring over your slab, there are some products (i.e. Ardex's K-15) that does not require you remove the glue at all. We opted for new concrete floors but decided to go with a different product because the people we wanted to use were exclusive to this other product. The floors cost about $6.00-6.50 sq. ft., which I think is great, and that includes prep and staining and sealing. We did get bids for less, though.

I hope this information is helpful to somebody out there who is considering removing their vinyl composition tile and starting over. It can be done!

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Did you check to see if the glue was water soluble at all?

I know very often that the glue on the tiles is but not always, I also don't know if the asbestos containing glue is water soluble and vice versa.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Thanks for posting your experience with tile and glue removal. I agree that sanding would create airborne asbestos particles- a real documented health hazard.

My question is in regard to the glue removal. What new floors is this necessary for. I would love to put cork in but is it necessary to remove the glue first? Since glue removal may not be in the cards for us because of the labor and inconvenience, what flooring does that limit us to?

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

i did not check to see if the glus was water soluble--i did not think that that mattered. When I went to home depot, the floor specialist there said that the jasco was the remover most people used for typical vinyl composition tile. he had worked in the field for 30 years and remembered the mastic used. so i do not know that it would pertain to all types of glues, but you could certainly purchase a small bottle and test a spot...

regarding the reasoning for removing the glue--We were faced with many issues in choosing new flooring. We have the original aggregate flooring in the front of the house that is level with the slab, so we didn't want to put a new flooring on the slab that would raise the floor substaintially. Hardwood flooring and ceramic tiles probably would have been the main culprits. The vinyl composition tiles were only an 1/8" thick, but we didn't want to replace the flooring with new vinyl tiles, because I had this in my old house and found it difficult with animals and children to keep this floor looking fresh. There were also flooring that we didn't want to use, such as carpeting and cork. So, the kind of left us with poured concrete (it was also in our price range). I chose to remove the glue because the product that we were pouring could not properly adhere to the glue.

I think there are different flooring materials that you could put down on top of the exisiting glue. I think the only consideration would be the strength of the bond between the new glue and old glue. The glue and tiles are harmless when left in place, so certainly, if you were putting in carpeting you might just leave the tile. I just know that the removal of glue has been a topic before so I wanted to give my story.

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Lynn, I didn't remove what mastic was on my slab, but my cork installer skim coats the entire slab with Ardex feather finish. Not sure what he did with the mastic, I don't think he removed it. Perhaps the feather finish works over the mastic. I can check if you want. Drop me an e-mail if so.

/te

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Jasco cleaning products are really nasty; petrochemical based solvents. Not only are they bad for your lungs and your hands, they're bad for the environment and they promote the import of foreign oil. :oops: 90% of the Home Depot stripping products are "old school" petrochemical solvents.

Too late now, but there are non-toxic mastic removers that don't require intense respirators and thick rubber gloves. There are also many soy based choices, such as Franmar's "Bean-e-doo mastic remover". Home Depot doesn't sell it and they don't know about it, although I've written them a letter suggesting they carry it. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

I used Bean-e-doo for removing the mastic under the tiles in my Eichler. It worked really well. The only downside was that I had to get the stuff by mail order.

For fun, compare the Material Safety Data Sheets for the two products. Which one would you rather inhale?

http://www.franmar.com/MSDS/html_b_mastic.html
http://www.jasco-help.com/msds/sealer_and_adhesive_remover.pdf

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

I would definitely have preferred to use a safer product! i did a lot of research and never even heard of these other products. too bad your input was not available during our last discussion; i would definitely have taken your smart advice. thanks for the info. good for future knowledge!

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Joined: Apr 20 2003

You wrote "...I think it is also important to know that if you've ever wondered if you could just remove all the glue and have a bare slab to walk on, you can, but you won't be able to get rid of the glue marks/stains..."
I'm curious as to what extent the surface is clean after the treatment you described. Is it not at all sticky? Can it be painted? We'll be putting in a new kitchen, and would like to remove the linoleum flooring (not original), and use the bare slab until we can decide/afford new flooring. Is this recommendable, based on your experience?
thanks,
--Bob

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

After the glue removal, the floor was quite smooth. It was just very ugly with permanent swirly dark marks from the glue pattern. Actually, the marks themselves weren't that ugly; it was just very inconsistent from room to room. I don't know what caused the darkness, but I tried sanding it and those marks cannot be removed. I know you can fill in any cracks with a cement putty and then sand that down, but I already see the old cracks forming where the new concrete was poured. You can paint your slab, but from what I understand, an acid wash is necessary, as is some kind of sealer to keep the moisture from coming up from the slab. (The latter may be more important!)
I would definitely look into that non-toxic glue remover if you are planning to walk on it everyday. Although a sealer would probably keep any chemicals that have penetrated the porous concrete below the surface, why not just try?
I might add that it might make sense to do a test for aesthetic purposes. A flat paint over the entire slab might look "plastic" depending on the color. However, a paint treatment or stain over the first color might be interesting. Just a thought. good luck

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Joined: Apr 21 2003

Cindy, thank you for your post - it was very helpful. We are also struggling with the flooring issue (currently looking to replace the living room/dining room area) and we also have the aggregrate concrete loggia bordering the living room which makes the issue of thickness of replacement floor important. We have thought about new concrete layer applied to slab but my big concerns were removal of glue and the issue of cracks in the slab.

You say in your post "I know you can fill in any cracks with a cement putty and then sand that down, but I already see the old cracks forming where the new concrete was poured." Would I be correct in interpreting your comment to mean that if you have any cracks in your slab, even if you fill in the old cracks, they are likely to come back on the new surface??? If so, how do you feel about the cracks aesthetically? Also wondering what went into your decision around which concrete company/product to use and if you are happy with the end results?
Thanks!!

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

The cracks that have appeared are directly over areas where we had larger slab cracks.Someone told me that it could happen. I was also told that adding intentional lines in the new concrete might help hairline cracks from appearing, but we didn't do that so I don't know if that would be true. I don't mind the hairline cracks, but they are noticeable.
I was quite dissatisfied with the workmanship of the company. I must say that I was quite naive and only had 2 contractors bidding on the job. The contractor we chose bidded with a different product, and then changed his product without telling us. Essentially he broke our contract by using a different product and using us as guinea pigs with this new product. I am happy with the end result of the floors, though I know it could have been done better. We were up against enormous deadlines and in the end chose to be satisfied with the floors the way they were. Had we all the time in the world I would have ended up having the floors repoured. I should have insisted more on seeing the company's prior work, which was a BIG DUMB mistake on my part!

Anyhow, if you would like specific details on the company or more information on the pouring process, please feel free to email me directly (morbank@earthlink.net). I've learned quite a bit from this renovation (not that I could do it myself, but what to look out for!). I guess sometimes you learn the most from bad experiences! Luckily the painters/stainers were excellent and the new roof went on without a hitch. Whew!

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