Asbestos in Vinyl Floor?

Hi all,

My wife and I are in the midst of a home renovation, and have come across some info that suggests that our existing vinyl floor and its adhesive may contain asbestos fibers.

I searched all over the web, but I could not find any info as to when/if asbestos was ever banned from vinyl floor backing and its adhesive. Apaprently, older floors contain it, and its not a problem unless you try to remove that floor.

Our house was built in 1992 - I am really hoping that this is not a problem, but some information I came across seemed to indicate that it is still permitted for use in non-friable matierals. Flooring qualifies as non-friable (unless you try to remove it, in which case you have issues).

Can anyone offer any insight? I’m afraid to rip up the floor now. Was asbestos ever banned for such use, and when? We plan on submitting a sample of the floor and backing to a lab for testing ($50), so I’ll keep you informed… it just scares me as the only info I came across is that it is, in fact, still used in the backing for some tile and vinyl floor.



Yes, asbestos has been used in floor tiles. I don’t know if they are still being used. I don’t think they pose any danger as the asbestos shouldn’t be friable, (it would just be a fire retardant and encapsulated in the vinyl) but there may still be EPA regulations regarding their removal and disposal.

IOW, I can’t add anything to what you have already said.

Unless you create some process for chopping up the flooring and dispersing the fibers, you don’t have much to worry about.

Vinyl flooring installed in 1992 will give you little to worry about, since asbestos in vinyl was outlawed as of 1982 (this did not prevent the sale of existing stocks, however). Same for the adhesive. If asbestos does exist, your exposure is going to be minimal unless you take a sander to the floor to remove the adhesive.

If you are still concerned, and have the clearances available for doors, etc., you can overlay the existing vinyl with the new. Less work, no “telegraphing”, much faster. Note that the warranty for the material will still apply, but ONLY for one overlay. Next time you’ll have to tear up both layers.

I had some building demolition/rennovation projects in my earlier career. When asbestos is nonfriable (as in floor tiles) it’s a lot easier to deal with. IIRC, the contractors were able to lift it off the floor and dispose of it without all the suits/filters you need when dealing with asbestos dust.

I’d get it tested to make sure, but you shouldn’t be facing a major clean-up effort. As adam yax stated, check on the disposal laws for your area if the tests come up positive. You might also consult with an asbestos removal contractor in your area for advice.


If the house was built in 1992, it is very unlikely there is a nice wood floor under the tiles, so there is no reason to remove them.

If you want to put in new flooring (and these tiles contain asbestos), I think you could cover the existing tiles with new plywood and then you would never have to rip up the original tiles.

If they are in good shape LEAVE THEM ALONE! Intact asbestos (and lead paint) is not dangerous; the free fibers (for lead paint chips and dust) cause by improper removal are dangerous.

I don’t think you have to worry about either in a house built in 1992. But you might want to check out the insulation used.

What does a “nice wood floor” under the vinyl have to do with this? There has to be a smooth underlayment under the sheet goods, or you would see every knot and raised grain. More than likely, it’s A/C plywood, rather than one of the newer underlayment woods or FiberRock, but acceptable as an underlayment nonetheless.

The problem with putting plywood over the vinyl is the transition from the kitchen to the adjoining room. Even a piece of 1/4" Tec-Ply is going to require a transition strip and possibly present a stumbling problem. I am doubting that this is tile, but rather sheet goods, which makes overlayment even easier (unless joemama has a textured vinyl surface like I do).

I don’t understand your reference to insulation. What does this have to do with vinyl flooring? If insulation exists, it will be below the underlayment and subfloor and will, in all likelihood, be fiberglass.

By the way, the regulations for this type of material are primarily in place to protect those who work in the construction industry and who are exposed to asbestos hazards on a routine basis from VAT, sheetrock joint compounds, roof tiles, etc. The one-time home improvement guy has little to worry about from exposure to some vinyl adhesive, which isn’t friable (unless you work at making it so).

Disposal of this type of material consists of bagging it and throwing it in the landfill. Trust me on this. We deal with this all the time. You can knock down an entire house loaded with this material just by merely keeping the place hosed down to prevent a large airborne release.


Asbestosis is NOT something you want to f** with. I was at a funeral last month for a good friend (actually first cousin) who died of complications due to asbestos exposure. We went to high school, played football, church etc.

He got it while working at a glass factory. We both worked there at one time as did my mother who also has complications due to asbestos exposure. It doesn’t take much!

That being said:

The EPA put an absolute ban on all materials used in the construction of housing for the public in 1989. Most asbestos containg materials were outlawed in 1977. But you know how many businesses are…they found loopholes. In 1999, the final word was given to the city of New Orleans in their appeal to the EPA, that the 1989 ruling would stand.

It is highly doubtful that you would be exposed to asbestos in the floor of your home.

BUT…why would you need to remove the old floor in the first place. Having done A LOT of vinyl and carpet myself, usually the new flooring can be laid over the old.

BTW I worked Sherwin-Williams for nearly four years (late 70’s) and remember the asbestos=BAD arguments w/ the large co.'s claiming we (the people) had nothing to worry about. :rolleyes:

They did the same thing when lead-based paint was banned.

Why rip out the old lino UNLESS there is something nice under it? Go over it. But it does have asbestos and one should only overlay flooring once and so would have to rip up both courses in another 20 years, wouldn’t be best to overlay the asbestos-containing floor so that NEVER had to be ripped up?

I have a 1/2" transition going into my kitchen that presents no problems, but I grew up with raised threshhold. [I speak literally here; I don’t mean ‘kids today, can’t even handle a half in step’.]

I am googling while we speak (so to speak), but I refer to foam insulation from a couple of decades ago that was proven to have?/suspect of having? adverse health effects from organic compounds, let’s see if I can find anything.

Found it; only skimmed the article, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to worry about with this house

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution - Formaldehyde

Thanks for the clarification.

As Chefguy pointed out, we have a tranistion problem. Currently, there is vinyl in the kitchen, and the adjoining family room (open floorplan) is carpet.

Right now, the carpet runs to the breakfast nook. We want to run one contigous floor in the kitchen through the nook into the family room. We chose Pergo, and it seems to me that since I tore out the carpet, I’d also have to remove the vinyl to get a uniform and level surface (concrete slab under both). We’ll put a vapor barrier over the slab, then the Pergo.

I tried pulling up some of the vinyl - it looks like its going to be quit a job, as the adhesive to the concrete is very strong. I’ll likely have to pull up as much vinyl as possible, and then use some sort of solvent to dissolve the adhesive and scrap away any remaining backing. Any other suggestions as to how to do this?

My main concern is the backing and adhesive - given that it appears I’ll have to scrape it up, I’m worried about the possibility of asbestos fibers getting released. We’re going to send a sample to a lab this week - I’ll keep you informed as to the results.



My first thought is why remove the vinyl - pack out where the carpet was to get a level surface. That will likely be easier than removing the vinyl and the adhesive. If you can find really cheap remainders of vinvyl tile, you could use that maybe.

I would rather install crown molding that rip up vinyl. Good luck.

LOL. We are doing that, too.

I doubt you’ll find any asbestos, maybe some formaldehyde, but in any event.

Taking the old vinyl isn’t that big of a deal. Just to be safe though get a 3M filtered respirator, they’re not that expensive and far superior to a particle mask and believe me you’ll need it again.

Also go to a paint store and get some paper coveralls. Throw 'em away at the end of the day. You don’t want to bring anything home to the family or mixing with other clothes. They’re real cheap, like 5$ each.

I assume you have a razor knife. You’ll also need a long handled scraper. It looks like a garden hoe that’s been straightened out.

Take the razor knife (I usually start in the middle) and a cut strip about a foot wide in the old vinyl, start scraping it up from the middle, maybe cut the strip in half as well. Whatever, you’ll figure that out pretty quick. The vinyl should come up pretty easy cut into strips this way. When you get one strip up, roll it up, bag it, cut another strip. It’ll go pretty quick and a little warm soapy water helps too. It’ll soften the glue and keep most particles on the floor.

Have fun :slight_smile:

Oh, make sure the scraper is very sharp when you start and flip it over every now and then while scraping to keep it sharp.

Whenever I’m asked to lay a new flooring surface, I factor in the tear-out and disposal. Installing new over existing creates a key question on which you hang the success or failure of your work: how well done was the previous job? I don’t want to have to do a full tear out because I banked on an unknown variable.

Transitions, and door bottom shaves are another consideration, as well as, if this is a kitchen, can appliances be removed? I ask this question, recalling a service request for a dishwasher. Multiple floor layers precluded my getting it out without countertop, sink, and drop-in range removal. The feet were all the way up-I could barely get the kickplate off. Labor to tear out the L counter, the sink, rangetop, and reinstall same, restoring the joint to the ceramic backsplash would have been obscene.

That’s why I tear it all out, replacing underlayment if I can’t skim coat with an approved product. Kinda like that old car ad went, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

Final thoughts (while the hampsters were stumbling): I doubt you’ll find A/C ply. Aspenite or another derivation thereof is likely. If you wish to install ¼" nominal plywood, don’t accept the stuff at the local home center unless it is ‘underlayment rated/certified’ by APA. There is a lot of lauan out there that isn’t fit for the task.

Even a rough floor, if structurally sound and well bonded mechanically to the floor joists/I joists can be made smooth with a product such as Ardex SD-F®. Their website is and although you may have to search for a local distributor, the products are worth the work, and meet all standards of the Resilient Flooring Institute and the Tile Council of America.

9 out of 10 floors are traceable to bad preparation, not bad installation.

Email me directly if you have further questions. Good luck.

Luan=absolute crap

The best underlayment material we’ve found so far is either Tec-Ply or an equivalent if using wood; FiberRock (from USG) if using a composite. The advantage to FiberRock is that it is nearly impervious to water, can be butted completely up to adjoining pieces (since there is no expansion or contraction), and takes little prep before laying the vinyl. Wood underlayment needs to be put down immediately before the vinyl. FiberRock can be put down at any time. Good luck!

joe You did say the house was on a slab, right? You going back with ???

Scraper and maybe a floor sander’ll make it like new again. I did one TODAY… good sharp scraper and hot soapy water. Like eatin’ a pizza, little bites.

Did one on another remodel recently. Two layers of vinyl on top of 1/2" cd…which was on top of two more layers of linoleum…which was on top of 4" oak tongue and groove. Got it back to original hardwood. :slight_smile: