August 02, 2011

The Red Mountain Report

by: Taz Loomans


This is the 2nd installment of The Red Mountain Report:

This past two weeks we’ve spent largely figuring out what to do with the flooring in the east unit of Red Mountain. The original floor was vinyl tile:

We definitely wanted to remove it, but were concerned it might be asbestos tile or might have asbestos adhesive. So we got it tested at this place called Fiberquant. They will test a sample you bring in for only $25.00. We tested the flooring in the west unit too, which has ceramic tile, just in case.

It was a happy day when we got the results:

So we proceeded to remove the vinyl tile ourselves:

Our plan was to exposed the concrete floor and seal it. (Find out why I love concrete floors.)

We were chugging along and ran into a glitch. We noticed that the adhesive underneath the kitchen vinyl tile was black. A red flag went up because we had read that a lot of times, the old asbestos mastic of the 50s and 60s was black. The sample we had tested was from the living room, we hadn’t thought of testing a sample from each room!

We didn’t want to deal with expensive asbestos abatement, so we decided to leave the vinyl in the kitchen and bathrooms, which also, it turns out had the black mastic underneath. But fret not, we won’t have to live with this ugly tile in those rooms. We found a much better looking and more sustainable flooring that will go right over the vinyl:


Did you know cork can be glued down as a roll-on floor and it comes in boards that make up a floating floor and click together for easy installation? We got the latter kind because gluing down any flooring over existing vinyl tile could pose problems in the future.

But in the living room, hallway, and bedrooms, we were safe and will be able to have concrete floors. This is what the exposed concrete floor looks like now:

It’s not perfect, has some cracks in it and shows the ghost lines of the vinyl tile we removed. But guess what? We love that it’s not perfect! That’s what an old concrete floor looks like and we think it’s beautiful. We are having it cleaned and sealed and I can’t wait to show you photographs of the end product.

Meanwhile, we are debating what to do with the ceramic tile flooring in the west unit:

What do YOU think we should do with it? Please share your ideas with us by leaving a comment.

Stay tuned for the next Red Mountain Report and find out what we do the ceramic tile floor and more!

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6 Responses

  1. Diane D'Angelo says:

    Gee, Taz, I’ve taken up those tiles before, and never even thought about the asbestos exposure. Good for you guys!

    I love, love, love the cork flooring. It’s beautiful and good for your tootsies.

    Now, as for the tile — I dunno. What color is it? It’s a major hassle to remove, too. As you know, I have a mix of tile and laminate in my place, and if I had my druthers, the tile would be gone. Is there such a thing as environmentally friendly laminate?

  2. Will Novak says:

    Probably not enough for the whole other unit, but over on Modern PHX someone is giving away some free flooring that may work for a bathroom:

    I know you’re the Queen (Princess?) of Adaptive Re-use and all.

  3. Roberta Hancock says:

    I realize the cost and potential issue of discoverng aesbestos in the mastic, however, it might not contain aesbestos and then you would be able to have the concrete foors which are truly the most sustainable of all materials. Additionally, now that you’ve posted your black mastic discovery on a blog – you are sort in the position of needing to legally disclose that you might have aesbestos in your duplex in the event you rent or sell. If you don’t and it turns out that it does – you could be sued and that would really cost you! This happened to a girlfriend of mine on a rental property she has. $100 toward concrete floors is an investment I would make if I was in your shoes. You can still abate the floors if you ultimately need to by covering them and you will know that your effort and disclosure absolves you legally as a landlord and property owner.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the floors turn out great no matter what you choose to do. Good luck!

    • Taz Loomans says:

      Hi Roberta, thanks for your advice. First, we aren’t disturbing the asbestos (and you’re right, we’re not sure if it is asbestos). We are going to leave it as is and cover it with cork. This is only in the kitchen and bathrooms. We did get the flooring in the rest of the units tested and it came back negative, so we did remove that flooring and will now have concrete in most of the house. We have disclosed to our renter that there is asbestos in the flooring and that we are not disturbing it.

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