Understand the Dangers of VCT Removal
VCT, or vinyl composite tile, is a soft, flexible tile installed in many locations. It may be installed over other tiles, or directly on the subfloor. The VCT adhesives grow stronger with age, which can make it extremely difficult to remove. In addition to the difficulty in removing VCT, there are some dangers involved in its removal. Understand these dangers before you begin removal:
Asbestos in the Tiles
Many vinyl composite tiles produced prior to the 1980s and installed up to 1984 were made with asbestos fibers. VCT that contains asbestos may be dark in color, including black or burgundy. They may measure 9, 12 or 13 inches square. Because the removal of any VCT necessitates the removal of the top layer or cover of the tile, ripping, sanding, scraping or moving the tiles in any way may release asbestos fibers into the air. Inhaling asbestos fibers may lead to lung damage or lung cancer. The fibers also may land on nearby surfaces where they might be disturbed again in the future.
Asbestos in the Adhesive
Removing VCT also includes removing its adhesive once the top layer or cover has been removed. Even those tiles that are light in color and which may not contain any asbestos in the tile itself may have been adhered to the substrate with an adhesive that contains asbestos. Adhesives containing asbestos typically are black or tar-like in color and consistency. Scraping the adhesive from the substrate it is adhered to may release asbestos fibers into the air. Because the adhesive grows stronger over time, agitation frequently is needed to remove it, which can be extremely dangerous if the adhesive does contain asbestos.
Damage to the Substrate
VCT frequently is installed on top of hardwood, tiles and other finished floor surfaces. VCT usually is removed in two stages: the top layer first, then the adhesive layer. Removing both layers involves the use of knives, floor scrapers, solvents, heat and sometimes floor grinders. Any of these items may present a danger to the substrate below the VCT. Hardwood floors and wood substrates are in particular danger, as they are easily scratched or gouged by the floor scraper, grinder or knives. Depending on the solvents used, these may damage the floor beneath the VCT, particularly if the flooring below the VCT is stone.
KRSI rents battery operated ride-on scrapers that are ideal for large or small commercial removal jobs. The ride-on scraper can remove carpet, vinyl, and tile in strips up to 27” wide and the mastic beneath the flooring. The scraper is perfect for a contractor who needs to remove flooring quickly and effectively.