A. Clayton DeKorne responds: Most old vinyl floor coverings contain asbestos, so cutting, grinding, sanding, and dryscraping the old floor is not a good idea. Asbestos wasn’t completely banned from resilient floor coverings until 1986. Tile adhesives predating 1986 also contain asbestos. However, the adhesives used to secure sheet goods are less of a problem, as they never contained asbestos and are usually applied only along the perimeter and at seams.
If you have to strip away the old flooring, don’t let the word asbestos scare you. The flooring and adhesive can be removed safely without bringing in an asbestos abatement contractor. The Resilient Floor Covering Institute publishes very clear guidelines, in booklet and video form, for removing old resilient flooring ("Recommended Work...
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