Can You Paint Over Asbestos Tile?

Image of Asbestos Tiles but Can You Paint Over Asbestos Tile?Asbestos tiles rose to prominence between 1950 and the 1980s. Even so, they still are a favorite of a large group of individuals. The best thing about these products is that they are practically indestructible, strong, cheap, and versatile. But the question is, Can You Paint Over Asbestos Tile?

Yes, you can paint over asbestos tiles since it makes them easy to clean and maintain. Doing this is also the safest way to seal and protect the material.

What’s best about asbestos is how it’s fire and heat-resistant. Not only that, but this item also absorbs sound, making the perfect building material.

What Paint Can I Use On Asbestos Tiles?

I recommend using oil-based paint due to its excellent adhesion properties. Besides, it’s also better at resisting wear than latex paint. 

Suppose your floor will be in constant use. Consider coating with polyurethane for enhanced durability.

How to Paint Asbestos Tiles

Before painting, start by properly preparing the surface. Here are the steps you need.

Step 1: Check for Any Fault.

You’ll have to inspect the tiles for any broken, cracked, or heavily worn. Also, check if there is any exposed adhesive since it might contain asbestos fibers.

Tip: You shouldn’t inhale asbestos fibers since they can cause serious illness.

Step 2: Remove or Repair Damaged Flooring

In this step, it would be wise to look for a qualified contractor for the job. Doing this will help prevent further damage to the tiles.

Step 3: Prepare the Surface.

You can do this by removing any polish or wax. 

Tip: It’s not recommended to use materials such as abrasive pads, sandpaper, power stripper, or wire brushes on asbestos tiles.

The best material for surface preparation is chemical solvents. For this case, trisodium phosphates will work best. A mixture of one part alcohol with three parts water can also be of help.

Step 4: Vacuum the Floor

The reason for this step is to get rid of any remaining dirt or dust.

Tip: Ensure you have protective clothing.

Note: Intact vinyl asbestos tiles don’t release asbestos fibers into the air since they are non friable.

Painting the Floor

Below are the necessary steps you’ll need to paint asbestos tiles.

Step 1: Choose the Best Primer

I recommend using oil based primer since it will help in enclosing the asbestos fibers. As seen above, having the fibers in the air poses a threat to your health.

Step 2: Prime the surface

Before priming the surface, ensure you cover the baseboards with masking tape. You can also consider removing them. 

Use a roller or a brush to evenly prime the surface. Ensure you leave an escape route so no bubble can get trapped before the surface has completely dried.

Step 3: Paint the tiles

You’ll only begin this step after the primer has dried. Go for an oil based paint since it’s water resistant and adheres better than latex based paint. 

For better protection and enhanced durability, coat the paint with polyurethane. Before doing this, allow the painted surface to cure for at least two to three days.

I recommend applying approximately three coats of clear water based polyurethane. 

Tip: For a prolonged life span, you may want to add a maintenance coat of polyurethane every two years.

Is Asbestos Tile Under Carpet Safe?

I wouldn’t suggest covering your asbestos tiles with carpet. Most carpets have strippers that might damage the tile. 

It even becomes worse since the damaged tiles might release harmful asbestos fibers into the air.

How to Safely Remove Asbestos Tiles

Even though removing asbestos requires professionals, you can do it at home. However, ensure you abide by your state’s and city regulations of asbestos removal.

Also, take the same safety precautions as the professionals.

The Equipment for Safe Asbestos Flooring Removal 

  • Plastic sheets

You’ll use the sheets to seal off the working area. Doing this will prevent asbestos fibers from spreading. 

Also, don’t forget to turn off the air conditioning unit and the heating ventilation.

Tip: If you have any item you can’t carry away from the working area, consider covering it with plastic sheets.

  • Air purifier with a HEPA filter

Yes, you might have covered all the exposed areas. But this doesn’t prevent the tiny asbestos fibers from contaminating the surrounding air.

Therefore, you may want to have an air purifier in the working area to reduce the risk of contamination.

  • Pump sprayer filled with water

While removing asbestos from your floor, you’ll realize that there will be some dust in the air. Therefore, you’ll have to keep the tiles wet.

You can quickly do this by spraying the floor and any old adhesive underneath. Consequently, you can use a solvent to dissolve the old adhesive.

  • Disposable coveralls and gloves

You’ll need disposable overalls and gloves since asbestos is not very easy to wash out of clothes.

  • Respiratory with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter

It’s necessary to protect yourself from harmful asbestos fragments. Therefore, you’ll have to use a full or half face mask with a HEPA filter. 

  • Sealable plastic bags for disposal

Sealable plastic bags will be necessary due to the harmful nature of asbestos fragments.

  • Wet wipes or a HEPA vacuum

To prevent stirring up asbestos dust, consider cleaning the work area and tools with disposable wet wipes.

When Should I Remove Asbestos Tiles?

It’s not safe to stay with chipped asbestos tiles in your home due to their harmful effect on your respiratory system. For this reason, you should immediately remove your asbestos tiles when you notice any cracks. 

It’s even better when you do it before the tiles chip off to reduce any chance of air contamination.

How to Seal Asbestos Tiles

Asbestos is known for causing various respiratory diseases such as cancer. The best way out is to seal them to prevent future exposure.

Note: it’s important to call a professional if the tiles have chipped.

Here is how you can seal asbestos.

Step 1: Removing the Baseboards

First, you’ll remove the baseboards in all areas with the tiles. The best tool to use is a pry bar and a hammer.

You have to be very careful while prying the baseboards away from the wall. With this in mind, you’ll avoid splintering the boards since you may want to use them again.

Removing the board is a good decision as it will enable you to apply the embossing leveler effectively.

Step 2: Prepare the Floor.

You can do the floor preparation by wet mopping it. Doing this will ensure that no dirt and debris are left to contaminate the air.

Suppose your floor has any oily areas. Consider using a degreasing cleanser before you rinse it with water. 

Give the floor some time to dry until it’s moist to the touch.

Step 3: Mix the Embossing Leveler.

When mixing the embossing leveler with water, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

I recommend using a wood paint stirrer stick to do the mixing until you get a smooth consistency.

Step 4: Fill the Bucket With Water

Fill one of the remaining buckets with clean water. It’s this water that you’ll use to rinse the metal trowel when applying the leveler compound.

Step 5: Pour the Mixture.

It’s now time to pour the mixed embossing leveler compound on your asbestos tiles. 

Note: Don’t pour in excess since you only need a moderate amount.

Step 6: Smooth the Mixture

Do this gently using a metal trowel. 

Tip: The embossing leveler takes a short time to set or cure. Therefore, you’ll have to trowel quickly.

Ensure you uniformly spread the mixture on the tile’s surface to create a thin level layer. If you do it correctly, the thin layer will create a perfectly sealed surface. 

Step 7: Rinse the Metal Trowel Every few Minutes.

It would be nice to keep rinsing the metal trowel in the bucket filled with clean water. Doing this will prevent the accumulation of the leveler compound on the metal trowel.

Step 8: Allow the Embossing Leveler to Dry.

The recommended drying time is approximately two hours. It will also help to check the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate drying period.

Remember not to walk on the surface when it’s yet to dry.

Finally, carefully re-install the baseboards using a hammer.

Is It Safe to Cover Up Asbestos Tiles?

Yes, it’s safe to do so, especially when dealing with old asbestos tiles. You’ll have to cover up the tiles to prevent fibers from releasing into the air. The unique way of doing this is by preventing damage and wear.

What Is the Best Way to Cover Asbestos 

I suggest covering up your asbestos tiles with an asbestos encapsulation. The appropriate time for doing this is after sealing the floor.

Asbestos encapsulation mainly contains epoxy flooring. This product is durable and provides a great base for floating floors or carpets. 

When Should I Encapsulate Asbestos Tile?

The suitable time to do this is when you realize your asbestos tile is not in good condition. Encapsulating asbestos is simply sealing it with epoxy.

Note: Calling an expert to do the job will save you a lot of money and keep the tiles sealed and safe for future use.

Do I Need to Worry About Asbestos Tile?

The best thing about asbestos tiles is their durability and resistance to heat. You only need to worry when they chip.

Chipping will lead to the release of asbestos fiber into the air. 

Can I Cover Asbestos Floor Tiles With Concrete?

Yes, you can, and I am going to show you how to go about it.

Step 1: Clean the surface

Before using concrete on your asbestos tiles, ensure you thoroughly clean them. You can consider wet mopping and scrubbing the tiles.

A clean surface is best since it will provide better adhesion resulting in a more successful seal. Also, remember to remove the baseboards so that you can effectively clean the tiles on all corners.

Step 2: Let the floor dry.

After cleaning, allow the floor to dry before you can proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Coat and seal 

The best product to use for coating and sealing the tile is concrete bonding acrylic primer.

Tip: You won’t find the ordinary concrete necessary for skim coating over a vinyl tile floor. Even so, you can choose to use other self leveling specialty concrete formulas.

Also, go for products that you can apply over VCT (Vinyl Composition Tile) cutback adhesive.

Step 4: Make the application correctly.

Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines during the application. The unique thing about self leveling concrete is that you can apply it to various thicknesses.

Step 5: Allow the floor to cure

After the application, allow the floor to cure. The product will dry and leave a smooth top coat over the primed tiles. 

What’s best is that the underlying tiles will not be at risk of crumbling with age. Besides, there will be no more exposure unless you drill or cut into the floor. 

Step 6: Do the finishing

You may opt to finish with polished concrete. If not, go for other options like setting a smooth landing pad for other flooring products. 

Such products include new adhesive tiles or a floating floor.

What Size are Asbestos Floor Tiles?

You’ll find these tiles in various sizes, including 9” x 9” or 12” x 12”. In some years, the asbestos tiles were sold in 18” x 18” sizes. 

The tiles are quite bigger than most modern tiles.

How to Recognize Asbestos Floor Tiles

It’s good to identify the presence of asbestos floor tiles in your home. Doing this will help prevent the harmful fibers from feeling your home.

Here are the physical characteristics that will help you identify the asbestos floor tiles.

  • Age of the tiles

All homes built between 1950 and the 1980s likely have asbestos tiles. During this period, asbestos was highly used in building materials.

  • Tile size

As stated above, the asbestos tile was available in different sizes.

It was a standard size for different asbestos floor tiles, including asphalt, plastic, and vinyl.

  • Black adhesive underneath

You can also identify asbestos tiles with a black adhesive underneath. This product is called black mastic or cutback adhesive.

The product was commonly used for gluing the asbestos tiles. Additionally, it’s asphalt based; thus, it also contains asbestos.

  • Discoloration

If you discover an oily discoloration on your tiles, it’s likely to contain asbestos. Since asphalt is the main product in manufacturing asbestos, it might sometimes leak, and the oil in it will cause discoloration of the tiles.

How Do You Clean Old Asbestos Floor Tiles?

You must be very careful when cleaning asbestos tiles, especially the old ones. Here is how you can go about it.

  • Routine cleaning

For routine cleaning, consider using a wet mop whenever possible. Suppose you choose to dry mop, don’t use petroleum based mop.

Such material will eat away the wax.

  • Spray buffing

You may want to clean your asbestos tiles by spray buffing. When doing this, ensure you use the least abrasive pad.

It’s also good to run the floor machine at the lowest speed rate of approximately (175-300 rpm). 

Doing this will ensure that no asbestos fibers escape to the surrounding air. 

  • Wet scrubbing

When wet scrubbing your asbestos floor with a neutral cleaner or water, ensure you use the least abrasive pad.

The wet vacuum equipped with a HEPA filtration system will help to suck up the remaining liquid.

After scrubbing the floor, apply a coat of wax to keep the tiles looking clean and shiny. 

Note: Ensure you follow all the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning your asbestos tiles with any floor cleaning product.

What to Avoid When Cleaning and Maintaining Asbestos Flooring

  • Do not disturb, remove, or damage the tiles in any way.
  • Avoid cleaning with butyl or high pH cleaner.
  • No sanding.

Is Asbestos Flammable?

No, this product is non combustible and non flammable. Therefore, it’s not recommended to dispose through burning.

Does Asbestos Have a Smell?

The worst thing about asbestos fibers is that you won’t recognize them through smell. Besides, you cannot see the fibers with naked eyes.

Therefore, you must be careful when handling asbestos tiles.

Final Thoughts

We have seen how asbestos tiles are strong, incombustible, alkali and heat resistant, sound absorbent, versatile, among other advantages. The only drawback is that asbestos fibers can cause serious respiratory diseases. 

Even so, there are various ways to prevent the release of these fibers into the air. One of them is by sealing the tiles. Painting is also a better way of protecting many surfaces while giving them an elegant look. But…

Can You Paint Over Asbestos Tile?

Yes, you can protect your asbestos tiles by painting. I recommend using oil based paints since they are long lasting and have good adhesion properties.

It’s my pleasure that you have read this article to this point. Suppose you have any clarification, please feel free to share with me in the comment section below.