Removing Asbestos Floor Tiles

tan tile floor with dirty grout
What You'll Need
Flat bar
Duct tape
Safety goggles
Disposable coveralls
Sheet plastic

If you live in a house that was built before 1989, there is a chance that asbestos floor tile is something that you will have to worry about. Many years ago, asbestos was a very common building material that was used in floor tile, insulation, siding, and more. Once it was discovered that it caused mesothelioma and lung cancer, they pulled it off the market. However, it still has to be dealt with at some point in the houses that used it. If your house has asbestos floor tile, here are the basics of how to remove it safely.

Step 1 - Dress Appropriately

gloved hand holding a safety first sign

The first and most important thing that you need to do is dress appropriately. If you do not wear the proper materials for the job, you could risk health problems. If you have any respiratory problems already, this could greatly complicate them. Even if you do not have any problems, it can hurt you over the long run. Therefore, you need to make sure that you wear protective gear all over. Put on your safety goggles, a respirator, gloves, and disposable coveralls to protect yourself from any loose fibers that might fly up.

Step 2 - Wet the Floor

Once you are dressed appropriately for the job, you need to make sure that the tiles are thoroughly wet. Take a bucket of water and dump it on the tile. Wetting the tile will help keep all of the loose fibers on the tile. When you run into problems with asbestos, it is because the fibers get airborne. Keeping water on the tile throughout the process will keep everything safe.

Step 3 - Pry Up the Tile

broken up tile on the floor

Once the tile is sufficiently wet, you need to start prying it up. Throughout the process, you need to make sure that you are very careful not to break it up into little pieces. If you can, try and take the tile up in whole pieces. If the tile is not attached to the floor very well, this should be possible. If it is stuck well, it might break up. If this is the case, just keep wetting it and try to keep it to a minimum. Keep doing this until the tile is removed.

Step 4 - Disposal

As you take up the tile, you should place it in boxes for disposal. You can get plastic containers or just use several cardboard boxes instead. If you have cardboard boxes, line them with the sheet plastic and place the tile inside. Once the tile is in the boxes, you can seal it up well with the duct tape. This will prevent any loose asbestos fibers from getting out into the air. After you have everything in the boxes and have them sealed up, label the outside of the boxes so that others will know it is hazardous materials. Dispose of it in the proper way according to your area's regulations for disposal of hazardous materials.