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Old 02-05-2018, 08:19 AM   #1
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Basement reno w/VAT? Details provided!

I've been lurking, researching for a couple weeks, and I have learned a lot. This forum is tremendous. I'm about to dive in to a basement reno a little bit at a time, and the flooring has me stumped.

So, I plan to finish the space with insulated walls and a combination of carpet and either VCT or industrial flooring material for a rec area / bedroom / closet space.

Why don't I just give the situation in bulleted form -- maybe it'll be clearest that way. Thanks in advance to whomever can give me informed advice and not the "better have a pro come take a look" or "be careful about snorting that stuff."

- around 700 square feet of VAT in basement of 60's ranch
- generous slope in floor away from exterior walls
- the basement is very dry - no sign of water from the walls/windows/slab
- the ceiling is low (<7") so I don't want to lose any more headroom
- when we moved in, some tiles were totally detached, some just needed a little coaxing, and most are well adhered to the floor and come up in pieces
- very thin coat, think a coat of paint, of black adhesive between concrete and tiles
- some tiles are chipping on the corners, some are a little wavy, most are decent.
- when I work the attached tiles loose, they come up in 3-7 pieces per tile.
- I tried a heat gun, but that didn't reduce the number of pieces per tile, and actually resulted in more "tearing" which seems worse.

Here are my thoughts so far:

- the last thing I want is to endanger my family; the second to last thing I want is to have to go back to clean up a mess and then end up doing things another way; I don't have much money -- will be doing things myself.

To the best of my understanding, I have 4 options to get where I want to be:

1) skim over the spots with no tile with a product like Henry 549 / Ardex Feather Finish -- pad and carpet everything. If I go this route, I don't know if I'd need to skim the entire area where I'd be using tile rather than carpet (as much as 1/3 of the space)

2) skim over the bare spots, then skim the whole space, covering all the tile with a self-leveling or feather finish product. I wonder if doing things this way will lead to crunching and popping underneath as tiles move and release from the concrete, or the concrete skim cracks...I've never used this stuff

3) remove all tile, then skim the whole thing with whatever to encapsulate the black mastic or whatever it is

4) glue down a 1/4" subfloor and then do whatever I want over that -- carpet, VCT, whatever. This I worry about because of the pitch of the floor.

Folks, any good advice will be appreciated. If there are options you'd stay away from or options I've not mentioned, please comment. For any asbestos "better just pay a pro $10k to scrape those out for you if you love your family" folks, I've done my reading on the topic. It's a factor for me, and I will be taking precautions no matter which route I go. I am using an asbestos-rated breather and keeping the area wet / wiping my shoes, as I've been scraping up some tiles to see what I'm working with. I'm in no hurry, but I don't want my kiddo playing down there with the tiles the way they are, which is a major factor in wanting to reno the space to begin with.

Thanks, all!

- Greg
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:17 AM   #2
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Hi Greg,

The black stuff is called cutback, and depending on when it was put in it might contain asbestos fibers. The fibers are already encapsulated, though, so if you're just going to use carpet or vct there'll be no problem with it. Lots of times the current vct will peel right off the cutback.

On the other hand, if you intend to remove the cutback I think you should get someone who knows what he's doing.
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Old 02-05-2018, 09:37 AM   #3
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Thanks John, that's what I've gathered about leaving that cutback alone and leaving no room for something else to react to it.

Would glue for new tile react with the cutback most likely?

Should I move toward feather finish over everything, or removal?

Have you heard of someone skim-coating right over the VAT with good results?

Thanks again!
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Old 02-11-2018, 08:41 PM   #4
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Iím a little disappointed and surprised at the number of responses here. Hoping others would be willing to weigh in on my situation.
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Old 02-11-2018, 09:21 PM   #5
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I just got done doing this and it’s a nightmare. I took up all my vat tiles in 2 baths and a kitchen with a wall paper steamer. It keeps the asbestos tiles wet and also the cutback and that reduces the chances of the fibers escaping.

I can’t tell you it’s safe but I didn’t have the money to pay someone to remove it. If you do remove it keep it wet and wear a respirator rated for asbestos you can get them fo $40 or $50. When you get the tiles removed keep the cutback wet and get a concrete grinder not a sander it want touch it you can use a Rockwell with a carbide attachment I did this it works great just takes a while but just keep it wet and wear your respirator and keep some old towels around to dry the water as you go the wallpaper steamer works great imo.

If your doing carpet just go over the cutback anything else I would remove it to be safe.

Good Luck!!
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:03 AM   #6
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Hey, thanks for that thoughtful reply. You know, for as many times as I've used those steamers, I never thought about using one for the tile. That's a great idea. I used a heat gun, but it didn't do a lot of good. I will shoot to take up everything except in areas bound to be carpeted.

Thanks a lot!
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Old 02-15-2018, 05:07 PM   #7
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I would take up the vat's. most of the time they r just laying there with gravity holding them down. I would not go over them unless you are using carpet. yes the new glue for vct or lvt will bond right to the cutback with no problems. no need to skim coat the whole floor.
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Old 02-15-2018, 09:18 PM   #8
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If the glue is non-water soluble then there are options for tile. Laticrete 254 is an approved thinset for use over cutback for installing new tile.
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Old 02-16-2018, 09:55 AM   #9
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Okay, good to know on the thinset. The cutback does is not water soluble, so it looks like I have that option. Thanks guys, for the info.

Unfortunately, many of the tiles are firmly planted -- the basement is not wet, so there hasn't been anything to force them up, like some experience.
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Old 02-18-2018, 06:46 PM   #10
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I would recommend not grinding cutback glue. They make soy based products that turn the glue to goo and you can scrape it up and then degrease the floor or floor prep anyway you would like. BeanieDoo is one product that works on asbestos glue.
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Old Yesterday, 01:59 PM   #11
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If you turn to glue to goo, the thinset won't stick.
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