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asbestos floor tile

aaron_agosto's picture

So I just started my first commercial job out on my own. We are renovating a coffee shop in Pittsburgh. The shop had a raised floor consisting of 2x6 joists landing on doubled sleepers laying across the orginal joists. We took up a good portion of this raised floor, and found asbestos floor tiles on the orignal floor, which seemed to be in good condition, and well adhered. On advice of the architect, we took up the rest of the raised floor. Our plan was to lay down plywood over the existing asbestos tile so as not to disturb it. We found significant water damage under the area where the coffee bar was, when we pulled up the raised floor, we noticed alot of the asbestos tile had loosened it self, and some peices were broken. In that area, the original sublfoor is in really rough shape, and I wouldn't feel good at all about covering it up without repairing it. But that would mean disturbing alot, or all of the tile.


I dont intend to remove any of the tiles myself. But I am really just worried about liability at this point. I'm waiting on some phone calls from the health department to see what my next step is, but I'm wondering if anyone here has found themselves in a similar situation. If so, what did you do about it?

aaron (post #207341, reply #1 of 8)

You are wise to be concerned about liability-and I'd certainly looking over my policy as I'm pretty sure if there is coverage it may be in a rider you don't have.


While I have worked around asbestos in several forms, I or the company I had worked for took precautions but no where near the requirements today.

I'm supposing that you are not working on a coffee shop in the middle of an open field in Pittsburgh.  Close the site and secure it an all debris. 

I also figure you are working under a building permit and would you be the general contractor, responsible for the other trades on the job?


In the old days, we would wet it down, bag it up and dispose of it.  Now? 

Best of luck.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Well, we havent removed any (post #207341, reply #2 of 8)

Well, we havent removed any yet, aside from the few stray tiles that were not even glued down. I did some looking around online, and found out in PA floor tiles aren't considered friable, and therefore arent regulated....


Unless they have are heavily disturbed, or damged in a way that would cause them to crumble.


So everyone is out of there. We got the basic gutting done and cleaned up, and the tile is as it was. I guess I will just wait to hear back from the health department and see what they have to say.


As far as the permit, we dont have one yet. The borough wont issue one until we get plans, the architect wont draw them until we get it gutted. But the borough allows gutting and prep without a permit.

Way to go. (post #207341, reply #3 of 8)

There is a tooth ferry.

I would still treat it as if it were the worst thing on earth.  But of all the things I've had the displeasure of tearing out-those things are the easiest.  A flat scraper (long handled ice scraper) or if necessary-the wide blade adjustible floor scraper should pop them up quick.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Note that the adhesive is apt (post #207341, reply #4 of 8)

Note that the adhesive is apt to contain asbestos too, and is considered by some to be worse than the tile.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Asbestos. (post #207341, reply #5 of 8)

Did you have the tiles tested?   Just looking at the tiles and guessing at the age isn't enough to say they are asbestos containing tiles.  I worked many a commercial job where we boxed ourselves in a corner because we thought  the tile contained asbestos.  A few did not and saved us a whole bunch of grief with added cost, chnge orders and such.  Best to have it tested and then move forward from that results.

Asbestos removal (post #207341, reply #6 of 8)

Having worked the commercial and industrial sector  for 47 years I can tell you the if it is a 9"x 9" tile, it is more than likely asbestos tile. The thing you need to think about is that if you pop the tile, the mastic that they used to use normally has asbestos in it too. I have worked with many asbestos removal firms over the years and it can be expensive.I  think  you had better contact an asbestos containment and removal contractor and get a professional opinion on how to address the situation.  I olny know the ones in Central/ South Central  PA, no one from Pittsburgh. Good luck. I would let your customer know about the added costs which should not come from your pocket.