New floors are typically installed over the following pre-existing surfaces: VCT (vinyl composition tile), VAT (vinyl asbestos tile), or coatings over concrete. While it is possible and sometimes preferable to install a new floor directly over an old surface, a number of steps should be taken to ensure that the new floor does not fail. The steps including destructive testing to determine whether the bond between the existing surface and subfloor (or existing surfaces) is intact and exactly what lies below the current surface – subfloor? Old tile or coating? Layers of tiles? – as well as testing for asbestos and other regulated chemicals.
Dave Long and Rick Frauton discuss situations in which companies have run into trouble, installing new flooring over old, and explain the steps necessary to avoid similar problems.
To avoid problems, do your due diligence:
- Do a fair amount of “destructive testing”
- conduct pull tests (try to pull up old tile to check bond and see what’s underneath)
- Strip old wax from existing surface
- layers of wax can keep tiles in place, even if the adhesive bond is broken; floors installed over poorly bonded tiles will fail
- Check when old floors were installed
- were floors in all areas installed at the same time?
- Check to be sure there is no asbestos or other dangerous chemicals/materials
- asbestos requires removal per EPA standards/guidelines
Before installing a new floor:
- Confirm adhesive is intact and bond between existing floor and subfloor is strong
- Send old tiles to an independent lab for testing, so you know what you’re looking at
- Skim coat to flatten surface and fill in any gaps or seams – if the subfloor is imperfect, the new floor will telegraph those imperfections
With Staticworx ESD flooring, you never have to choose between performance and aesthetics. Our beautiful, high quality ESD carpet tile, vinyl, EC rubber tile and sheet goods, and ESD epoxy floors are as beautiful as they are functional.