Forum HomeCA-Modern ForumsHome Maintenance Hotline › Wood/Laminate floors, remove existing linoleum or not?

Wood/Laminate floors, remove existing linoleum or not?

11 replies [Last post]
Joined: May 20 2003

I plan to replace all my carpets with either hardwood or laminate.

Under my carpet I have 12 inch square linoleum tiles. Would
it make sense to remove them before laying wood, or should
I leave them there.

I want to remove carpets for better radiant heat.

I know that the tiles probably contain asbestos, but I am
not personally worried with that.

In short the issues that concern me most are as follows:

1) Would removing the linoleum increase possibilty of
mositure intrusion from underground?

2) Would an extra layer of linoleum make radiant heat
less effective?

3) On semi cool days, when it is not cold enough to
switch on the heat, would bare laminate on concrete
feel uncomfortably cold to walk on? We do
not usually wear shoes at home.


Joined: Mar 21 2003

It's best not to disturb the existing tiles because when you dispose of them if they contain asbestos you as the generator of the debris own it forever. If the glue is older than about 1975 then it's not water base and should help as a barrier to small degree against moister. Ever layer does hinder the radiant heating some but you need to ask yourself if the mess of removal is worth it. Hardwood flooring is usally not attached to the concrete but "floats". Talk to a floor installer you trust and see if there are any warranty issues.Good luck.Scott.

Joined: Mar 20 2003

Actually a few months ago we went through alot of the asbestos tile removal issue.

Someone posted 2 things: Under a certain weight you can throw the tiles into regular waste. I believe it was 50 lbs. Above that weight you would have to go through asbestos abatement channels.

Furthermore the asbestos content in the tiles is very low I believe we found out it was 3-4% so it posed a minimal threat.

The great source for asbestos was in the glue which may or may not contain asbestos and if it is present it is high concentrations.

Some one else has a source for an adhesive removal and it was posted recently. Also some of these glues ARE water based, the glue in my house was.

On the new flooring: If you put a true hardwood floor down it also needs a plywood subfloor underneath. So your total floor thickness will be about 1 1/2". They need to have the wood subfloor to nail the top to. I don't believe the subfloor is attatched to the concrete. But that is just more material to insulate against the radiant heat.

Joined: Mar 20 2003

> Would removing the linoleum increase possibilty of
> mositure intrusion from underground?

That's "possibility" and "moisture" by the way. Yeah, it's an interesting theory and probably correct. Concrete is porous, the linoleum is waterproof.

> 2) Would an extra layer of linoleum make radiant heat
> less effective?

The linoleum on the floor of my Eichler is very thin, perhaps 1/16". Also, it's a very dense material. The R-value is 0.05 Compare that to the other materials you're installing and you'll see that this is not an issue.

I don't know the answer to your question about comfort.

Give some thought to the issue of "underlayment". That is, will the linoleum be a good backing surface for your new floor? After you remove the carpet, are the tiles intact or do they pop up easily?

Also, make sure that the radiant heat pipes are not punctured during the installation of the new flooring material.

Good luck!


Joined: Apr 2 2003

There is some difference of opinion on whether laminates and hardwoods are a good choice for radiant heat systems such as those found in Eichlers. (If you don't have working radiant heat, it's not an issue). The discussion revolves around insulation and leaks.

I'm not sure how much wood flooring insulates the heat from the slab preventing it from heating the surrounding air (the original tiles were very thin). I suspect it would do so to some degree. However, someone who has actually investigated this can speak to the matter. Supposing insulation of the heat is not a problem, you should next think about how you would recognize and repair a leak. Not only radiant heat leaks, but also domestic water leaks, are not that uncommon in Eichler. Flooring that comes in individually install sections (stone, ceramic, vinyl tile) are much easier to replace. For that reason, some who have wanted wood have opted for parquet. You don't want to be replacing a large area of expensive strip hardwood, as one unfortunate Eichler owner did recently, due to water leaks.

Regarding the potentially asbestos tiles underneath, if you have working radiant heat, I would definitely think there would be too much insulation to install hardwood overtop of those. Perhaps if someone has done this, they can comment on the result. As for removal, dealing with hazardous waste can be, well, hazardous---and proper precautions should be taken. An asbestos abatement team can be hired or you might consider doing a room here and there on your own--with proper precautions of course. In San Jose, at least, homeowners could remove up to a certain square footage without permit. You would do the work in stages to stay within the allowable limits. You would then dispose of it through the city's hazardous waste program (basically make an appointment and drop it off).

The comment that you would own the asbestos "for life" surprises me. I know when you dispose of things through the hazardous waste program that is not the case--I know this, because I've done it. I wasn't aware that there was a continuing "ownership" of waste when dealing with asbestos abatement companies--someone who has done this, please advise. It is the case in some other states (such as New York) that ownership continues but I didn't think that was the case here.

Regarding whether covering on concrete (whether wood or tile or linoleum) would be too cold. I have vinyl composite tile on my slab and do not wear shoes in my house (sock or bare feet only). I find the floor pleasingly cool barefoot in summer--not cold. If you find it a bit cool in the early spring or fall, you can always slip on a pair of socks.

Good luck.

eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: May 21 2003

I can give you all a little bit of insight into some regulations, and more into procedure's. I'm a Flooring Contractor in the Bay Area and run into this situation quite a bit. As far as California is concerned a Contractor is allowed to peel and scrape 100 sq ft of Asbestos Flooring. Notice I said peel and scrape. For some reason ,only known to the Laywers, we can still remove underlayment without any amount restriction we just cant remove the Flooring itself in a manner that will create an abundance of airborne particles. The underlayment factor doesn't apply to Eichlers but I just wanted to give you some information. As a contractor walking into a job my first concern's are is the flooring stuck down, if so, how thick is it, If I added height to the present flooring will any doors need to be cut for clearance? As long as the floor underneath is stuck there are no problems with going over it, and it usually saves the customer alot of money. Floors that will be adhered to the slab, with the exception of Ceramic Tile, usually will tranmit the radiant heat into the flooring quite well. Some of the Wood floors will actually hold it a little longer before dissapatiing.

Joined: May 21 2003

You run out of room fast in there! LOL Just wanted to finish by saying double check the type of flooring you chose to see if it's recommened over concrete. You'd be surprised to learn most laminate floors are not concrete approved, let alone radiant heat approved. And to the best of my knowledge only Asbestos Abaitment Companies are Liable for the material they remove. And if you are working with a floor your not sure about, leaving the present flooring down will give you a nice free vapor barrier.


Joined: Mar 20 2003

when i redid my floors (repoured thin concrete) i opted to remove the tiles myself...I can get into that more in detail if you would like, or check my past postings.

However, one comment: The glue that was used to stick down the tile is this very dark stuff. I was told by a number of people that this dark glue can penetrate surfaces, even concrete, and come up and discolor any flooring above it. So, if you remove your tiles, you should most likely treat the existing glue---reseal it or remove it, to keep from discoloring any new flooring. I would think regardless you would want to reseal your concrete to help minimize moisture.

Joined: May 21 2003

What your referring too Cindy is an old adhesive called "Cutback" It's a dark black solvent based adhesive. Theory goes that it never truly cures. I have pulled up jobs that were installed over 40 years ago and the stuff was still sticky. It is theoretically possible for it to bleed through floors, but very unlikely in your case. Thats another reason why if at all possoble i leave the tiles down. Or recommend that the customer remove them themselves. There really not that hard to remove, and they would save significant cost's. And pending on the new floor choice some of the newer floors have epoxy based adhesives that not only glue the new floor down but help to seal the concrete. Moisture in slabs is a problem in general, and with radiant heat you just have to be a bit more careful in flooring choices and procedures.


Joined: Mar 21 2003

We had Junckers brand wood floors installed a few years ago. Installers insisted on taking out linoleum. They installed a black plastic sheet as moisture barrier and a sort of thin felt pad on top of that. (That probably destroyed much of any win on heat transfer we got from removing carpet.)

Our floor is a floating wood floor and has no subfloor since it's not nailed down. In theory the floor can be taken up if we need to go hunting for a leak someday, as it's put together with a clip system rather than nails or glue. (But in practice it would be a heck of a mess with the plastic and felt pad etc)

The floor is warranteed for use with radiant heat.

Joined: May 21 2003

Unfortunately some floors require the plastic sheeting(moisture membrane) in order for the manufacturer to warranty over concrete and, or radiant heat. At 3 to 6 mil's it's not too thick though. In that situation I would imagine the void, from the floating method installation, dissipates most of the heat over the membrane.


Joined: Sep 16 2010

Another reason to laminate wooden strips into beams is quality control, as with this method each and every strip can be inspected before it becomes part of a highly stressed component such as an aircraft undercarriage.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.