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Old 05-16-2010, 07:28 PM   #1
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Question Remove Subfloor Without Stripping Aesbestos Floor Tiles?

So just got a 1964 Safari. Excited to start the project. It has the 9" aesbestos floor tiles. I plan to remove the subfloor and try a "shell on" subfloor replacement similar to that in the "It's a girl" post. Has anyone removed the subfloor without scraping up all the asbestos tiles? I have no clue where these elevator bolts, screws, etc. are, so I imaging it is a bad idea to just set depth on skill saw and try to rip down the middle (longways) of the floor??....But, I really dont want to mess with scraping all that asbestos. Is it inevitable??
Do any posts have actual pictures of subfloor removal process itself (not just "now its here - now its not")? This is my first experience with elevator bolts, I assume you cut out access holes within the large sections to be removed and squeeze a sawz-all down between frame and floor to chop these in two and free the plywood? Thanks for any insight before I either ruin a blade or dawn the tyvek asbestos suit.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:45 PM   #2
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I used a carefully set circular saw, using a heat gun removed a row of tiles, then cut, but even that isn't foolproof since the mastic probably has it too, so wear a good mask, and be as careful as you can.
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:50 PM   #3
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I really think you'll want to have all those asbestos tiles pulled up before you run a skill saw through there and start floating all that stuff in the air. Most of them will pop up anyway, or help them with a heat gun.

After getting mine up, I used a 1" hole saw without the pilot bit and cut right down around the tops of the elevator bolts, stopping just as I reached the crossmembers. When done with that, I ran a skill saw set just a bit less than subfloor thickness all the way around the perimeter, leaving about 6" or so outside the C channel. The old plywood then lifts up very easily.

And, welcome to the forums. Read as many of the restoration threads as you can find and you'll learn lots.

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Old 05-17-2010, 08:46 AM   #4
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OK, that sounds good. Thanks for the info. I have a friend who is an industrial hygenist, so I can probably get a hook-up from him on a suit/respirator and get to it.
Thanks again.
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Old 05-17-2010, 02:50 PM   #5
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This method worked for me. Wear respiratory protection.

Floor removal
Steps for floor removal:
1. Use chalk line to mark the crossmembers and the 1 inch angle in the center. Only mark the first two full width sections.
2. Set your circular saw to just less than the plywood thickness. Cut just outside the crossmembers.
3. Finish opening the cuts with a Sawzall.
Attached Thumbnails

4. Mark the location of the screws.
5. Chop the plywood off just to the side of the screws. I used a 10 tooth hacksaw blade, works OK for sawing short distances in plywood.
6. Turn the recip. saw sidways and saw through the screw.

Nice thing about this method is you end up with a nice stack of plywood ready to haul to the dump.

OOPS-forgot to mention: before I started, I dimensioned EVERYTHING to the nearest 1/8th inch.
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Old 05-17-2010, 03:28 PM   #6
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Heat gun is a good idea, used it and a flat shovel and was able to scrape tile off without causing the dust. If I was in a big city probably would have used dry ice as tiles would probably pop off with a hammer once frozen. I would save sawing technique as a last resort.
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Old 05-17-2010, 05:04 PM   #7
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Sorry to disagree. I tried a heat gun.

Then I gave up and tried a propane pavement torch. Burned the floor. Tile wouldn't budge. I don't know what adhesive Airstream used back in the 60's but it's hard as a rock.

Waste of time, in my opinion.
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:50 PM   #8
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It just depends on the trailer I think. Mark I've done floors with the exact same issue, won't budge no matter what. 69 was that way. I just chipped things off. On the 63 the tiles became pliable after just the slightest hint of heat. Perhaps they used different materials in the tiles over the different years or different manufacturers.
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:37 AM   #9
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Excellent, thanks again, Mark thanks for the photos.
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:39 PM   #10
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I'm really sorry to rain on this parade, but I have to speak up about what I've read above! Being a new member, I'm hoping my extensive experience with occupational health and environmental issues can serve a useful purpose...I'm not trying to be a jerk about the following, but I know I'm risking being looked at as a prude, nerd, etc. Oh well...

I worked as an Environmental Professional for most of my career and have been extensively trained in asbestos identification, testing and safe removal techniques. I seriously recommend you take a look at some of the following websites before you plan this job any further:

Minnesota Dept of Health
Oregon DEQ
Ezine Article

markdoane, I will try not to be too sarcastic about the method you chose, but I hope you're at least 50 years old. The normal latency period for mesothelioma is around 20 to 30 years...so, if you're one of those sensitive individuals, you might still live a full life before it sets in.

Asbestos is Very Seriously Hazardous! Mark's suggestion to use respiratory protection would have to cover utilizing a fully encapsulating suit in addition to an air purifying respirator or supplied air respirator under the suit. If not, you'd want a good respirator for you and the person who is spraying a constant mist of water over the cutting operation. Breaking the fibers with a saw is one of the biggest no-no's of asbestos abatement.

Please don't take any chances with stuff like this when you're trying to have fun and restore an Airstream! It's just not worth the risk.

I apologize if this offends anyone, but I just can't sit idly by as people put themselves at risk. It's like the famous last words of some young adult males..."Here, hold my beer and watch this!". I was always the guy who talked them out of it or left the scene of the accident before it happened.
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Old 05-19-2010, 04:24 PM   #11
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Huh... A fully encapsulating suit with supplied air sounds pretty intense.
I talked to my friend that is an industrial hygenist at the Y-12 plant (Where they built the bomb, pretty creepy place with lots of nasty materials around).
He said the tiles I have are probably 2% asbestos and the mastic is probably 5%. He recommended a heatgun if it would work to remove tiles, said they typically prefer to flood the area where tiles are removed which loosens the adhesive and keeps anything from getting airborne. Cant really flood it but I can wet it down some. He recommended a half-face respirator with P-100 "magenta colored" cartridges along with a tyvek coverall. Hopefully I am safe with that and some care not to generate too much dust. Thanks again to all for your help, wish I knew more about this topic when I was in high-school undoubtedly tearing asbestos insulation and stripping lead paint off old houses, but I aint dead yet!

I will post photos of the camper and progress along with other questions in the appropriate forum section soon as I get started.
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Old 05-19-2010, 06:44 PM   #12
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Knoxvegas,
That sounds like a good plan...I guess I was assuming the tiles were to be cut with a reciprocating or circular saw. Your friend knows what he is doing...the heat gun method is great and the recommended PPE is adequate. You just don't want to tear the tiles when removing them without some type of water to keep the fibers from flying.

Didn't mean to sound so alarmist, but WOW!
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:28 AM   #13
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Wait Wait Wait Wait

These things have ASBESTOS tiles??? Why is that not like a primary warning post at the top of the forums listing or the Airstream Webpage. I've ripped half of the tiles out of my '64 already?!? Does this mean I might as well take up smoking now?
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Old 09-07-2010, 11:29 AM   #14
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My only credentials is I have a relative deposed in the 1980's during the Federal Asbestos litigation (Space Shuttle would've been fine if they hadn't switched gaskets to (over)protect a few dozens of workers) and what I've read -

The non-encapsulated fiber is the dangerous one - the spray-on fire proofing or the dust from fire-proof bulkheads used aboard ship or working in transportation repair industries where brakes and clutches were repaired all day every-day.

Spinning up the circular saw is not a bright idea but 97% of the fibers are still encapsulated in the saws dust. The saws-all type makes even less fine waste dust. You have been exposed to worse driving your vehicle in heavy traffic passing older cars and semi-rigs with brake or clutch problems, the Asbestos ban is only for original equipment not aftermarket repair parts. Wet wash your tools and the work area and avoid making more dust. If you're concerned the use of an expectorant for a week might help you feel better if you are getting the heebee-jeebies.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:23 PM   #15
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Judging by the date of the original post, I'd say those floor tiles are history by now.
If they were asbestos, I would have to recommend professional abatement.

However, if it were non-asbestos tile and mastic or any other demolition and I just wanted to keep the dust down, I‘d cover everything that isn’t being removed with plastic, use a pump sprayer with an encapsulant mixed in… maybe some Elmer’s glue at 10/1, set up an exhaust fan, keep everything wetted during removal, bag the waste as I carefully removed it, double plastic bag it when done, and collect any liquid runoff. I’d wet wipe and remove the plastic, bag it, wipe my suit and respirator prior to removal and hit the showers.

And I wouldn’t look too closely at my 1970’s era and earlier furnace gaskets
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:50 AM   #16
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Wow, that sounds really intense too. I have removed most of the tiles at this point enough to see the elevator bolts on the front 2/3s of the camper. I used the respirator I mentioned in the last post and a tyvek suit. There was another sheet of newer linoleum over the tiles which brought many of them up especially where there was water damage. I used a heat gun on the others which helped some but took a lot of elbow grease with a floor scraper and sharp blades, this left a fair amount of the mastic on the floor. The whole process did not really generate any dust, I sprayed the floor with a spray bottle over the areas where I was working before scraping.

To kuteogre, I would not sweat it now, probably not the first or last time you were exposed to this stuff if you have done any demolition work on old houses. My general rule is if the tiles are 9" squares they are very likely to be asbestos.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:34 PM   #17
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That was my public forum answer. Most of my demolition has been done with a bfh and a sawzall.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:49 PM   #18
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How can you look at a floor tile and know if it is asbestos or not?
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
How can you look at a floor tile and know if it is asbestos or not?
They quit selling nine-inch square tiles when they changed formulations.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:51 PM   #20
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So you mean that 9" square tile=asbestos?
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