Asbestos Backed Vinyl Flooring

Home Depot has been hired to lay new ceramic tile in my home, however, they require old floor covering to be removed by us because of the asbestos thing. Our house was bulit in 1986. Is the chance of asbestos backing unlikely since builders were supposed to stop using asbestos products in 70’s??

Not all asbestos products were/are illegal to use. See this page for some information about which products containing asbestos you might still find in use today.

I’m rather surprised by that. When we bought our older home (1931), the home inspector pointed out what he thought were asbestos tiles and told us that we had two courses of action:

  1. Remove said tiles.
  2. Install new flooring directly over the tiles, sealing them in.

He recommended #2 - seal 'em right up. In his opinion, the special equipment that was required and difficulty of getting all the asbestos out was beyond
DIYers. Meaning that if we were to remove the tiles, we’d have to call experts at considerable expense. However, we could tile right over them and be just as safe.

Therefore, I’m rather surprised that Home Depot wouldn’t also know this, and wouldn’t be willing to come and tile right over any asbestos tiles that might exist. After all, from what I recall the inspector saying (and this could be incorrect), the asbestos tiles themselves pose no danger, it’s only when one tries to rip them up and gets that asbestos in the air that there’s problems. So it’s best to just seal them in.

This probably doesn’t help any, but I thought I’d try.


Snickers, ceramic tile is installed on a bed of mortar. The mortar will not stick to the vinyl tiles.

My understanding is that Home Depot farms their work out to subcontractors. Could it be that the subcontractor is worried about asbestos and not the store? Beyond that, I’m sure that both the store and the subcontractor want to avoid any liability and may be erring on the side of caution.

First of all what is floor construction?
Concrete slab?
Wood joists and sub floor?
Is sub floor adequate to support tile and not flex slightly and cause breakage?

If on concrete slab, use an ice scraper to break tiles away from concrete, breaking the mastic bond. Very minimal risk of asbestos particle becoming air borne.

If on wood joists and sub floor it must be adequately reinforced to support the breaker board and the tile and with no flexure.

Get a second opinion. Since you live in an area large enough to support a big box warehouse or two look for a tile specialist business. They may charge more but usually will provide an estimate and tell you what is necessasry for a satisfactory end product job!

Never heard of ‘asbestos backed tile’. There was VAT or vinyl asbestos tile, quite common through the late 1960’s which was replaced with VCT or vinyl composition tile, containing something which will be found equally evil in another decade or so. Without chemical analysis, I could not confirm that the flooring in your home was/is asbestos-free.

This is the place to go for information regarding ceramic tile installation. I follow their guidelines because I want my customer callbacks to be good ones. :wink:

I’m not saying anything specific about VCTs, but when chrysotile (white asbestos) began losing popularity as a filler material added to just about freakin’ everything, another mineral from the serpentine group, talc, became more popular. Thing is, “industrial grade” talc is often contaminated with chrysotile. So even if a product doesn’t contain deliberately added asbestos, it often contains “accidentally” added asbestos.