Concrete Overlays Provide a Unique Solution to Harmful Asbestos

When renovating or remodeling a space, contractors, homeowners, and trades people sometimes run into a very unforgiving obstacle -- Asbestos.  Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that has a very high tensile strength and is heat and chemical resistant.  Because of its strength and durability, asbestos is used in many building materials such as roofing material, insulation, acoustical material, and flooring tiles.  However, the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has banned many asbestos materials because of its harmful effects on those who may handle or be exposed to it.  Asbestos is mainly considered hazardous because it increases the risk of lung disease.  Individuals who breathe in asbestos during renovation, remodeling, or during the  production of asbestos materials may develop over the course of several years after exposure, Asbestosis, lung cancer, or Mesothelioma.

When an encounter with asbestos occurs on the job site, proper care should be taken in order to ensure that the health of contractors, workers, and anyone who may be in the affected area is not at risk.  Asbestos abatement, or removal, should be performed by a contractor certified to perform abatement, and involves several days of keeping the area sealed off, closing it to any residents, employees, or individuals who may occupy the space, and the use of special techniques and procedures by the certified contractor to rid the area of any harmful contaminates.

The other option is to leave the asbestos alone entirely, since asbestos becomes hazardous only when it is disturbed from demolition.  You can, however, cover old asbestos materials such as floor tile.  In Concrete Zen's recent renovation of the workshop, asbestos floor tile was found in a few areas.  An affective solution to these unsightly and harmful tiles was a concrete floor overlay that was poured over the entire shop floor, including the asbestos tile, to create one cohesive, flat surface.  The concrete overlay was performed using the same procedures as in any overlay, however, a stronger sealant was used over the asbestos tile to ensure a proper seal and installation.  As you can see in the pictures below, the overlay went over the existing tiles just as it would in any non-asbestos tile.  If you aren't interested in spending what may be several thousands of dollars and lost time spent on the closure of a space during asbestos abatement, concrete overlay may be a cost effective and aesthetically pleasing way to go.

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