Floating floor (LVP) over black mastic

Discussion in 'Vinyl Flooring Q&A' started by Larry_e, May 9, 2018.

  1. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    I had a contractor install some LVP flooring and per his recommendation, the old 9x9 tiles had to come up given that many of them were taken up in the kitchen before I bought the house and removing them would make leveling the floor throughout the house easier. He’s been installing flooring for 30+ years as a second generation floor guy.

    I stopped by when he was removing the tiles and they were coming up very easily. He was barely prying them and they were coming up intact. The black mastic was left down and he put 6mil vapor barrier down before putting the floor in.

    Now I may be overthinking this but I feel like he should have encapsulated the mastic rather than just throwing plastic over it then flooring over it. Wouldn’t the mastic deteriorate over time and send dust out from under the barrier like near the baseboard near high-traffic areas? ...Especially with temperature/humidity fluctuations where the floor will expand and contract a bit and you can tell the floor isn’t completely flat against the concrete?

    I worked HVAC for over a decade so I understand that I’ve likely been exposed to more than what may be present in my house, however, after becoming a Dad, I fixate on any threat to my family and it’s been terrorizing me for a while now.

    I have a HEPA filter running non-stop in my house and I meticulously wiped everything down when he was through working. I also made sure to pull the thermostat off when he was working.

    I can’t even objectively say that he’s put my family in harm’s way so it’s hard to figure out how to confront him if I need to... also, I come from a long line if tradesmen who are basically cowboys about the topic so it feels strange stressing about it but it also feels terrible writing it off if something were ever to happen to my kids or wife.

    Do I make this guy re-do the work and use Ardex feather finish or something else?

    I’m sort of pissed off I’m in this predicament.

    Anyway... advice?

    Attached Files:

  2. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    9x9 tile- red flag. Black mastic another red flag. It could be possibly asbestos. It sure should have been tested right from the git go. He has covered the mastic, but again with children in the house I wouldn't have touched it in the beginning without testing.


  3. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    in theory... and remember it's a theory, the black mastic should be tar based in which case it never really dries out. Again, it's a theory but in that case it should never really change from the state it is in. I find the probability of the adhesive being reactivated more likely, it tends to want to be sticky forever however I don't think anyone here will be able to offer you a guarantee. Knowingly disturbing asbestos tile in any way is a huge liability and unfortunately there is no putting the worms back into the can however at this point I think the less you disturb it the better you will be. Chances are there is a very small amount of risk if any leaving it well alone.

    To patch as an encapsulation layer is a common misconception in the industry because patch of any kind is not typically regarded as encapsulation, mostly due to the fact it can exhibit the exact properties that you are concerned the mastic might.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    It’s covered with the vapor barrier but wouldn’t the flooring breath a little with temperature fluctuations? Maybe I could get an air test done and make a better decision from there? I’ve heard mastic is not considered friable but this stuff seemed dry not gooey...
  5. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

    There are sealers that can be used to encapsulate the black tile emulsion, then the substrate should be smoothed/flattened with a quality floor patching compound or SLC. There are very specific rules about asbestos abatement in California and any installer with 30 years experience would know that, even if they weren't aware of the specifics. Unfortunately, there are a lot of installers with many, many years of experience doing some things wrong over and over again.
  6. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    Thank you for the input! I’m confused about the last bit. Why do people seem to use ardex feather finish on the mastic and say they’re encapsulating it? This may make it w

    Do you have any advice on my best course of action?

    Maybe an air test and move forward from there?

    Ask the guy to redo it or reimburse me?
  7. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    the only possibilty for asbestos to be in the adhesive (mastic) would be from contamination from the tile. Here in Canada much like Jim alludes to in cali, the rules around abatement are very strict (if not often followed) and I would be of the mind set that any disturbance is just going to compound the issue.

    I exposed asbestos in my home unknowingly when I removed a layer of carpet to install some carpet tile. Underneath the pad was old felt backed roto vinyl. it had to be removed because it was in tatters and just hanging out. Without a doubt there are contaminations on the floor however it's an acceptable risk. I believe you are in the same boat. For the record, I as well have 2 young ones at home and I didn't lose much sleep over it.

    In all honesty you are more likely being exposed to a greater level of asbestos standing on a street corner at a stop light than you will in that kitchen.

    If you really are concerned which it sounds like you are, approach your contractor, maybe offer to split the cost of an air sample to show good faith and ask at the same time what he wold be willing to do of said sample comes back positive?? seems like good tact.
  8. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I’d say the risk is minimal. I assumed your complaint was going to be sticky noise. The asbestos is kinda encapsulated already in the mastic. Usually the % total is @ 2-4%. Then the particle size has to enter the lungs, much being contained through the mouth, nose and esophagus.

    A baby may be at risk initially due to lung size, kids are pretty resilient.
  9. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    Sorry I missed your post about encapsulation, but basically people do things wrong because that's what people do. Unfortunately terminology gets bandied around and assumed one is the same as the other. I have referenced a coat of patch as an encapsulation layer in regards to covering adhesive (which technically it is not) and I am not alone. So then, one can lead themselves to reason that encapsulating glue is the same as asbestos... except one is a health hazard and another is just a p.i.t.a
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  10. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

    We aren't health experts and most of us aren't asbestos certified either. Any advice you receive should be taken with that in mind. All we can offer is opinion.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    funny story....
    it is why I preamble any thread with the word opinion or theory. Goodbye legal liability.

    and for anyone that hasnt read through the complete terms and conditions of the Web site our good buddy Jim has made sure we are all indemnified in our participation here :)
  12. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    Thanks for the background

    This is an excellent idea honestly as far as confronting him about it and getting some peace of mind.

    My grandpa and Dad worked HVAC and plumbing their whole life and they’ve told me stories that perplex me given how serious asbestos is taken now. My gramps talked about chamfering sewage pipe to get better connections and he’d breathe the dust all day for years. I’ve personally rolled around in vermiculite (unknowngly -it was probably contaminated) and who knows what else, when I did HVAC. ...but now I have kids and my phobia is higher than ever.

    I appreciate your time and advice.
  13. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    Yes, I understand an air Test is objective and maybe I should just get it done.
  14. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    it can be scary right??
    Like most things, and again this is just my opinion, the asbestos hype is a little overblown in terms of risk...HOWEVER the risk is entirely real. If governing bodies went around telling people that hey, this stuff is bad but really... you will probably be OK? ? I don't think anyone would take it seriously. It is a major contributing factor to many health related risks... and that is something to always take seriously.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Asbestos is also mixed in adhesives, that’s why they test adhesive as well.

    I’d guess San Francisco and New York City breathing asbestos from braking was common.

    I don’t think much asbestos if in the surroundings was from the adhesive, it probably came from the tile if it was broken up and released into the air.

    I’m not in deep with knowledge of asbestos but the two types in tile and adhesive could be different. I usually test the adhesive due to it being the hardest to deal with.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Elmer Fudd

    Elmer Fudd Administwative Asst. Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    It is covered by plastic and the LVP, it is NOT going to cause harm to anyone, unless you dig into it and eat all the black adhesive. Only the "friable" asbestos is harmful, that means it must be able to float in the air. Asbestos enclosed in adhesive CANNOT do that, so you are golden!

    Hey I am living proof, 70 and spent 30 years installing asbestos laden products! Of course don't ask my wife as she thinks i have lost my marbles. But they are safe in a small chamois bag!!
    • Funny Funny x 3
  17. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    You “think” they’re safe, I “thought” the wife and I were in a different mood, she casually mentioned have you checked them one day, she was giving me a medical exam. She was right, had ultrasound and Drs. Visits are following actually after I get my kidneys(ultrasound)checked and also a chest X-ray.

    So I believe in the vigilance that you’ve discovered this website, and in everything you and they do.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    Update: I ended up getting a TEM air sample done and in my house. It cost me $350 and I’m still debating asking the contractor to pay for it. The test came up negative for any asbestos structures.

    I felt I had to post this to hopefully give someone else a little piece of mind. For any future projects, I’m going to get multiple bids even if a family friend is ultimately going to do the work just so I can at least see the different scopes of work that they estimate.

    Thank you again everyone. This site is a great resource. I’ll be sure to send people this way.
    • Like Like x 3
  19. Mark Brown

    Mark Brown On The Surface Flooring I Support TFP

    Thanks for the follow up and I'm glad you can now rest in knowing. Fear is bad...
  20. Larry_e

    Larry_e Member

    Yes definitely

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