Replacing Floors Asbestos We Can
Well if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen a few little hints of our new kitchen floors. And if you don’t well then you’re missing out on a lot of photos of baby Geoffrey. So. Your loss. Okay let’s rewind to a week before we moved in and decided to pull up the (oh so beautiful) carpet in the utility room.
I mean. It had to go. This photo isn't even edited. It's au naturel.
We were hoping to uncover some original wood floors that just needed a bit of love, but sadly we uncovered this mess.
Womp womp. It turned out it was a vinyl that was probably added in the 70s, so we peeled up a bit of the linoleum in the kitchen and guess what? More vinyl. It’s hard to tell, but if you look closely you will see that this is actually a fancy gold glitter vinyl. SO fancy.
The problem with this fancy pants vinyl, was that it had been laid with asbestos mastic. I mean. We just can’t get away from this stuff.
We knew we wanted to replace the floors in the kitchen down the road, but we also knew that if we were doing the utility room, we’d have to do the kitchen at the same time so it would all look consistent. After doing a lot of research we learned that the safest option was to just lay new flooring over it. Scraping it up is virtually impossible, it will never be level, who knows what we would have uncovered, and it is super dangerous to breathe. We only had a week before we moved in and we needed to address the situation ASAP considering we didn’t want to walk on this vinyl let alone let Geoffrey walk on it. So we had to act fast. Normally this is the type of project we would have tackled ourselves, but because we were still in the middle of refinishing our floors, still had some packing to do, and had to move at the end of the week, we were clearly running out of time. So we made the executive decision to call in the pros.
Since hardwood wasn’t an option, I knew that I definitely wanted to go in with tile. And because I’m absolutely smitten with our original bathroom floors, I wanted to have a charming porcelain hex in the kitchen and utility room as well.
I contacted my Daltile Rep to see how quickly I could get 130sf of this tile (in 2" hex), and she said she could have it shipped from Dallas and ready to pick up in 2 days. Sold. I struggled with the grout color a bit, and ended up going with Dove Gray (on the left) so that it wasn’t so contrast-y (that’s an industry term).
Our tile contractor laid sheets of HardieBacker board to cover the vinyl mess and allow for the tile to be nice and level.
They applied the mortar onto the HardiBacker and laid out each sheet of hexagons, letting the mortar set for 24 hours.
Then they applied the grout and let it set over the weekend before sealing it.
Yes, I know that the grout looks really thick around the edges, but that is because the tile was left uncut around the perimeter of the room since we knew we'd be going back in with a more substantial base board and shoe moulding, which would end up covering it anyway. So we saved a few dollars there.
Geoffrey was very upset that he couldn’t walk on it yet.
And now for the truth: I ended up making the mistake of approving the installation before I was able to walk on it (while the sealer was still drying). The next day we ended up finding a lot of issues with some residual grout that wasn’t cleaned properly before the sealer was applied (which you can see the inconsistencies in the photos below).
If you aren't familiar with the process, once the sealer is applied it is to be immediately wiped away so that it only soaks into the grout and not the surface of the tile (per the sealer instructions). That was not done in our case. The sealer dried to the face of the tile and has permanently ruined the surface and cleanability of the tile. Also, anything left on the face of the tile is now trapped under the sealer. So grout haze, dirt, dust, etc. are now permanent. I even had my Rep come and look at it, and she was absolutely shocked at the improper installation. She gave me some tips and chemicals to use to fix it as much as possible.
So now Derek and I are going to have to strip the sealer, clean the tile, and then reseal it ourselves, which basically means we'll be on the floor with tiny toothbrushes scrubbing the floor until the water runs clear again. We haven't done it yet because let's face it, we'd need a long weekend and will lose the use of our kitchen and laundry room (and have to move some major appliances), so it's been a bit of a back burner item.
It was a very expensive mistake, and I have been dreading sharing this (not so glamorous) detail with you guys. But hey. You live and learn right? I don’t like sharing not so great projects, but I wanted to be honest and up front with why I haven’t shared our floors with you yet, or really anything for a couple of weeks. I have just been really upset with myself over the whole situation, but I’m moving on. The utility room is really the worst part, but I can’t show you the kitchen side yet because that is an exciting post for another day. So here is a snippet..
I think it’s safe to say we’ll be sticking to DIY for a while. Lesson learned.