How to Remove Asbestos Tile Glue

Home Tips

As time has gone on, building and renovation practices have eliminated dangerous construction materials from construction sites, limiting or removing them to make properties safer.

One of these dangerous materials is asbestos: a mineral composed of flexible fibers that, when inhaled, can cause major damage to the body. While asbestos is not as widely used as it was from the 1940s to 1970s, renovations on older homes will likely involve this material, particularly under tile or plaster surfaces.

If you believe you have asbestos in your home, here are some tips on how to identify and safely remove it.

Asbestos Tile Glue

How to Tell If Tiles Have Asbestos

The first step in asbestos removal is to identify whether or not you have it in your home. The most effective way to do this is to test your floor tiles. There are generally two ways to go about this: have it professionally tested or test it yourself with a DIY kit (using the right safety measures, of course).

There are also some ways you may be able to tell without coming into contact with the material. For example, homes built before 1980, when asbestos was banned, may contain asbestos, especially if they were built anytime from 1920 to 1970.

There are also some tell-tale signs that come from the quality and style of the tiles themselves. Square tiles that are 9-inch, 12-inch, or 18-inch were often popularly installed in older homes and may contain asbestos.

Asbestos may also reveal itself above or beneath the tile, with tiles becoming more stained over time or black mastic, a type of adhesive, being found underneath the tiles.

But when you discover asbestos in your home, what are the next steps?

Safely Removing Asbestos Tile Glue

The safest method for tile removal when asbestos is involved is to have a remodeling company take care of the removal for you when you begin your home renovation.

However, you can also do it yourself if you’re looking to avoid the costs that come with hiring someone else. Some safety tips to follow when removing asbestos tile glue include:

  • Making sure you have the necessary safety equipment, such as clothing that covers the body and will only be used for the tile removal, goggles, a respirator mask, and a head covering.
  • Having tools nearby such as a floor scraper to help you remove the tiles (as well as sharpening tools to keep your blades as precise as possible), a sprayer to reduce airborne fibers from spreading, bags in which to place the asbestos tiles, and sealing materials to keep asbestos fibers from traveling to other rooms throughout the house (although you must keep in mind that ventilation is important). It can also be helpful to have scrubbing pads, towels, and other scraping utensils in case you have some difficulty using just one tool to remove the tiles and adhesive.

There are multiple ways for preparing the tiles for removal. Some experts advise soaking the entire surface in warm water for a few days. Others may recommend directly heating the tiles and some will say that using dry ice to freeze the adhesive and easily break the bond is a better method. Additionally, solvents may be a helpful way to break the adhesive bond (as long as they’re not flammable).

Make sure to thoroughly research your options and decide which one is best for you before beginning the process. For this guide, we’ll continue with the basic recommendations to help you get a better idea of what DIY removal will look like. However, if in doubt, consider reaching out to a professional to help.

Once you have all of your materials ready and your space prepared, carefully remove one tile at a time, making sure to spray the area down to keep it wet. Make sure that you completely remove the tile and the adhesive. There may be some leftover bits here and there once you finish, but you can mop those up, disposing of the mop head and thoroughly cleaning your mop bucket once you’ve finished.

It can be helpful to set up a HEPA air filter as well to purify the air as you work as well as additional lighting so that you can see that you’re removing all of the adhesives.

Asbestos is not to be taken lightly, and even if it is in a state where the fibers would not spread, conducting home renovations can cause the fibers to disperse throughout the area, putting you at risk.

Whether you plan on hiring someone to take care of tile removal or you plan on doing it yourself, use this guide to learn more about whether or not asbestos is hiding under your tiles and what you can do to clear it out.