Unwhitening, Part Two: Now! With Asbestos!

First, we painted the walls yellow on Tuesday evening, which was a pretty awesome undertaking. It went fast and fairly easy, though I have to say that cutting in is not a whole lot of fun. I always seem to get the hang of using the little tool that makes it easier about halfway through the last coat of paint.

Also, Rosie helped.

Painter dog

I think it came out fairly well. One more coat, and the walls are done. I'm not 100 percent into the particular shade of yellow -- something a little warmer would have worked better -- but I really don't feel like messing with fifteen repaintings in the guest bedroom.

White walls

Especially because this fine yellowing tile appears to have asbestos in it. The report came in today, and showed 3% chrysotile asbestos (above 1% means it is "asbestos-containing material" in the eyes of both EPA and Cal-OSHA). There's some debate about whether this is as dangerous as the other form of asbestos (amphibole), or whether it is dangerous at all. So basically, if you have to have asbestos in your house, this is the kind you'd rather have, and at a fairly low level.

But still, note that everybody writing about it says it is safe when handled correctly. So it's important to know how to handle it. Asbestos is not something I want to mess around with, so we will be doing an abatement according to current recommendations.

Also fortunately, there was no asbestos in the mastic used to stick it to the floor, so once we get it up and everything cleaned out, we can sand with impunity.

Fun with asbestos tiles

Now I'm going to do some research and when I am ready to get started, I will post about what I'm going to do to get this stuff up and out safely. I know it will involve a lot of plastic.

Edited to add: To clarify, the stick-on tiles on top are fine; we can remove them with a heat gun without any issues and will likely do that soon. It's the bottom layer of tiles that are the problem and require protective steps, and that mostly to ensure that they don't keep breaking into pieces.

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posted by ayse on 03/26/08

8 Comments

Wow, I had the same stuff (same pattern even) in my old kitchen. Which I chiseled out myself. It was probably less than 50 square feet, though. So maybe I won't died of asbestosis.

I hope.

You walls look great! I'll bet that yellow will feel a little warmer once you get furniture in there.

Chances are you won't die from tiles. Most of the stuff in tiles is pretty much tied up in the material. Sanding it would have been a bad call, of course.

And yes, the yellow will be less green when there's stuff in there. Especially curtains on the window.

i've also got chunks of kitchen tiles to send away for testing...and we *know* we have a nasty transite-clad flue to abate when we get the roof done...what i'm worried about is the flooring mastic because i want to try to use the softwood subfloor (sanded & sealed) as our finished floor...which is my longwinded way of saying that i'm excited for you that your mastic is asbestos free!

did you mention what your final plans for the floor are? is there hardwood under there? do you have a hard or softwood subfloor? are you going to try to finish it? are you doing it yourselves (i assume) or hiring somebody?

also, congrats on getting the recycled water system up and running. i'm both jealous and in awe! please remind me that you and noel started out as unsure and bumbling as eric and i are.

I've got my fingers crossed for you on the mastic.

My plan for the floor is to experiment with floor painting. The floor is softwood, original, in pretty bad shape. We're doing it all ourselves: floor guys are pretty expensive for just a small room (but worth it if you're doing the whole house).

My plan is to fill the gaps with flowable floor filler, sand it smooth, and paint it. I'm going to try gloss black to begin with because I saw it in a magazine and it was sexy. If that looks really bad I will be spending a lot of money on paint, I guess.

As for where we started out, yeah, we were pretty unsure. And we still make lots of mistakes, not all of them cheap ones. Also, we get tired of working on projects and stop for long periods before we manage to get ourselves together to restart. Which is why that stupid room is taking so long.

(Also, I would like to admit that we spent more than a year planning the irrigation system and then it took us another year to install it and it's not actually permanently connected because it turns out that 1500 gallons of water a day is A LOT, so don't be too impressed.)

I saw a special chemical mastic remover at HD. I might try that when it's our time to remove the kitchen floor. My neighbour ended up removing his fir floor in the kitchen, because it was too labour intensive to remove the mastic. He replaced it with a salvaged floor though, looks good.

I think I've seen that mastic remover, as well. I've been considering how to get the mastic off the wood paneling in the back bedroom, which seems like it ought to be a really nice, quick, short project.

For flooring, there are some very nice pieces of wood available from the salvage places, definitely. Bunches of our neighbors have replaced old floors with salvaged wood.

I'd be tempted to just pull up and replace our floors, and I've considered that as a long term plan, but the irritating thing is that they run under the walls, so doing so is not lightly undertaken. When we get around to doing our big floor project, I'll be discussing that issue with the contractor, but I'm pretty much resigned to adding flooring on top of the existing floors.

The only thing about a sexy gloss-black floor is that it's so hard to keep from looking dingy all the time. Like a black car, if you've ever had one. Every mote of dust, every footprint, is writ large on its glossy, dark surface.

Good point, Jessamyn. I think I want to try it out, on the small area of the Accordion Room, anyway. I've also had some people tell me it will scuff like mad, but of course it's in a low-traffic space, anyway.

I'm sure I will regret this.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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