When installing new commercial flooring in your business, don’t forget the risks that come with removing old flooring. Anything installed before 1990 is likely to contain hazardous materials – and many installations after 1990 may still carry a chance of the same. You want to keep yourself protected and ensure the safety of others in the immediate area. It’s essential that your new business doesn’t risk retaining any of these hazardous compounds and exposing your customers and employees. How do you handle hazardous materials?
The following guidelines will help you proceed with caution – and realize great results:
Look up Local, State, and Federal Laws
There are many laws guiding flooring installations in South Florida, as well as the use and removal of hazardous materials. Asbestos is the major one, and the one most immediately recognize. It has this reputation for a reason – it’s dangerous. But it’s not the only material that presents a risk. The removal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, should be treated as a complete process in and of itself. Often, you need to apply for government-issued permits that allow you to safely and legally begin with the removal process.
These laws aren’t there to make your life more difficult. They may seem like a hassle, but believe us – not following them could become a far bigger problem. Pay attention to them and the requirements that are stated in each.
The requirement for protective clothing, for example, is not a suggestion when it comes to these materials – it is a necessity. Depending on the material, protective wear may include disposable coveralls, respirator, safety goggles, disposable gloves, and disposable booties that fit over your shoes or work boots.
Contain, Contain, Contain
Contain the area where hazardous materials will be exposed. Using plastic barriers enables you both to create a contained area and to protect walls. This prevents dust from leaving the zone and collecting outside of your intended work-space. In a home, of course, you don’t want these things lingering and putting your family at risk. With commercial flooring, your customers don’t want their families being put in harm’s way either.
When removing flooring, we will often wet the floor or plastic protective layers in order to collect dust and fibrous materials that become airborne. Removing flooring in as many intact pieces as possible is also important – if it’s tile, we want to try to remove each tile intact. This decreases exposure and makes removal both safer and easier.
Some tiles will come easily. Others can be much tougher.In particular, commercial flooring fastened with an asbestos adhesive can be a nightmare. Tiles fastened with this material will often cling to the floor and chip into fragments smaller than an inch, making the removal process laborious.
This process can be so arduous, you can begin to damage the floor underneath. For those removing tile in a traditional way, even getting a few feet of tile up from this adhesive can be the work of a day. In these cases, there are specialist approaches to removing these in a safer and much more efficient manner.
Note: If you think asbestos adhesives sound ancient, they were still being used throughout the 1980s, meaning a lot of floors still have it underneath. Before you seek to remove any flooring, have an asbestos inspection done.
Remove All Traces
When disposing of materials, we make sure to:
- Detach them entirely.
- Clean any additional hazardous materials off (you don’t want to just take the floor and leave the glue or fastener).
- Seal them in plastic containers or lined boxes.
- Label everything properly.
- Dispose of them as the law prescribes.
Following each step meticulously is a must for safe – and legal – removal.
Get the Help You Need
Removing and replacing flooring doesn’t have to be a headache. When it comes to hazardous materials, the best option always to contact a professional. For commercial flooring installations in South Florida, East Coast Flooring excels at safely and quickly removing and installing floors. This is what we do for a living, so we know what procedures to follow, what permits to get, and how to approach the job efficiently and effectively. We can work with you to make these projects as pain-free as possible, no matter what the scale.
We are licensed, insured flooring contractors and designers, we stay on the project from Day One to your final review, and we’re particular about using top brands and products that keep you, your family, your employees, and your customers safe.
Every step in removing old flooring is tough and takes you away from time you could invest in your business instead. Removing, cleaning, sealing materials safely away to the letter of the law, and disposing of it all – each of those is a job in and of itself. Business people who are handy and DIY-ers can handle a great many challenges that involve refurbishment and rebuilding. Any floor removal involving hazardous material is not one of these. There’s no sense in putting yourself at risk and taking time away from the rest of your business for something specialists can handle more safely and efficiently.
East Coast Flooring works with all types of flooring and all types of flooring removal. We specialize in commercial flooring, and that means we’re uniquely suited to tackling hazardous materials during flooring removal. We know that if we’re efficient, clean, and collaborate with you on every step, there isn’t a commercial flooring project that can’t be taken on and delivered successfully.