You are here:

Flooring and Carpeting/Basement flooring dilemma


We have 9x9 asphalt (asbestos) tile on the concrete basement floor. Because the rest of the house is hardwood, we would like to finish the basement with plush carpet for the children (~475 sq ft). We are comfortable with our product choice (Smartstrand by Mohawk w/foam padding), but have yet to find a way to attach tackstrip without damaging the asbestos tile.
The flooring people recommended removing the first few inches so they could nail into the concrete--not going to happen. I'm not going to disturb asbestos tile, or the black mastic beneath it. Because we are framing in new walls on the perimeter, I thought I would use a 1x6" composite sill liquid nailed to the floor. The extra width on the sill (2x4 wall) would be used for attaching the tackstrip. The installers weren't comfortable with the height differential of the 1" sill (even with 1/2" padding). They recommended Dricore and stated they would attach the tackstrip to it, essentially creating a floating floor--which is my goal. Great idea but Dricore requires their tiles to be attached to the concrete floor to avoid buckling when the carpet is stretched--makes sense but still not interested in going through the asbestos!...and shouldn't the flooring people have known this? So back to square one. What if we went with the composite sill idea, but laid Superseal and plywood to cover the asbestos, raise the subfloor, and diminish the height differential? We were told it's difficult to find plywood that wasn't warped and would lay flat--really? I like the idea of floating Dricore but wonder if the tiles would buckle? I'm not sure if the installer would have trouble attaching the tackstrip to a composite base, and I'm not sure how I feel about Superseal? We don't have a wet basement, but could mold grow beneath it?
We would like to have this done for a wonderful Christmas reveal for the kids--please help us with some input! Thanks so much.

You are putting undue emphasis on the danger of the asbestos tile. Here is an excerpt from recent previous answers I gave regarding this subject:

"Unless the tiles are being abraded/sanded and you inhale the particles then they pose NO DANGER. Even then, you would need prolonged exposure, and a quantitative amount of exposure AND a susceptibility to the type of cancer caused by the asbestos.
 Long term quantitative exposure to asbestos can be harmful. A limited exposure to asbestos is extremely unlikely to be the cause of any cancer. I was an installer for 10 years, from 1966-1976 and periodically ripped up flooring with asbestos. Back then there was no masks, no protective gear because we did not know of the dangers. This was when I was 18 till I was 28. I also worked in a retail store where we stocked and I physically stacked loose asbestos tiles. I am now 65 and have no history of cancer. Here's a link that might also make you feel more at ease: It discusses the fact that asbestos related cancer occurs with repeated long term exposure."
 Now, I am not trying to downplay the dangers of asbestos and it is good to be aware but there is a need to keep it in perspective. If you realized the amount of asbestos you have probably been exposecd to during your life and walked on or passed by (asbestos coatings on pipes,ceiling tiles, brake pads, etc). But it is among those stories  that some in the media have overblown because it triggers a response and it sells.

Now in your particular case:
The tackless needs to be secured to the floor so the carpet does not ripple. Period. For the sake of simplicity I would not rip up the tile. They should be able to drive the tackless through the tile. Your suggestions as a workaround does not sound doable; height differential an I am also not sure what you mean by a "composite sill liquid nailed to the floor" ? And yes it is hard to find underlayment plywood that is NOT warped. Go to any lumber yard and pull out a sheet of plywood and look at it. You will find very few sheets that lay flat unless weight is applied or again, securely nailed/adhered to the subfloor. Carpet will not keep it laying flat.

Have them put the tackless in. They can mist the tiles with water using a hand help sprayer prior to to the tackless being put down. Then its done. Let it dry before the carpet installation.

Feel free to write back with any other questions.

Flooring and Carpeting

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


R Adams


Certified Installer 1966-1976, Certified Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985, Certified Commercial and Residential Floor Inspector since 1985 is available to answer questions on problems with carpet or other flooring, and carpet cleaning. I can guide you as to whether you may have a valid claim against a manufacturer/installer/dealer/cleaning company.


Floor covering Installer 1966-1976 Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985 Floor Covering Inspector 1985- present

Floor Covering Inspector Training School; FCITS Floor Covering Inspection Technical Services; FITS Certified Claims Inspectors Association; CCIA

Hartford Courant

B.S. Chemistry 1971 A.S. Physical Science 1969 Armstrong Certified Installer 1972 3M Certified Carpet Cleaning Specialist 1976 FCITS Certified in Carpet and Hard Surface, Commercial and Residential

Past/Present Clients
GE, Phoenix Insurance Group, McDonalds Corp, WTNH, US NAVY, Xerox, Time Warner, Pitney Bowes, Conair, Yale New Haven Hospital, UCONN, Price Waterhouse, Pepsico.

©2016 All rights reserved.