It runs a little counter to what you might guess, but covering asbestos tile is actually one of the best ways of dealing with the situation if you turn out to have asbestos in your home.
Asbestos is only a health risk when it is broken up and the fibers are released into the air in large quantities. As long as it’s left alone and isn’t disturbed, vinyl flooring or tiles pose no health risk whatsoever.
Therein lies the rub when it comes to removing contaminated flooring, as unlike siding or ceiling tiles it’s difficult to remove floor tiles without scraping or tearing them.
Licensed abatement specialists can handle the situation — bringing in equipment to ensure any fibers that are released are captured and collected — but those services come at a high cost and due introduce some element of health risk.
Covering Asbestos Tile Versus Removal
Encapsulating is a fancy way that asbestos experts have of describing when asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are covered and sealed, preventing the material from being damaged and any fibers released into the air.
It’s often used to describe specific abatement steps but the general meaning of the term is exactly that we’re talking about here as far as covering up and effectively sealing off the material.
Asbestos tile can be encapsulated in several ways depending on if its vinyl flooring or individual tile pieces, with carpet, hardwood floors, and newer vinyl flooring all valid options.
DIY or Call a Professional?
If you would install the flooring yourself in a normal situation, there’s no reason not to if you’re covering asbestos tile.
The process is essentially the same and doesn’t require any specialized knowledge as far as the installation process of the new tile or flooring.
You will need to be sure to take into account the underlying material that you’ll placing your flooring over as far as any special underlayment or adhesive necessary to make sure that the new flooring is properly installed and doesn’t fail.
Be sure to account for the raised height of your new floor, as you’ll be adding new material on top of the old flooring and this could impact thresholds, doors, and appliances.
Since you aren’t directly working with or removing asbestos materials, you won’t have the same concerns as far as safety equipment or proper disposal of any asbestos containing materials.
This also means that you can hire a regular contractor to install your new floors, as covering asbestos tile or encapsulating it doesn’t necessarily require a contractor licensed and trained for asbestos removal.