What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?

 
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:21 AM   #1
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What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


So first off, I've searched the forums (and the web in general) for answers to my following conundrum and have come up with many conflicting answers. Here's my situation and what I've found so far.

I'm a residential general who does remodels.

A friend (and customer) just purchased a 40s single-level ranch home in Portland, OR with a slab foundation. She wants to replace the existing flooring with wood and cork floors. Existing flooring was carpet with asbestos containing floor tiles and cutback adhesive under that. I am not certified to remove asbestos so I had her hire a certified abatement contractor to remove the cutback (she already removed the tiles herself to save money, taking proper precautions, as homeowners can do that in Oregon). Here's where it gets tricky.

The slab foundation is extremely rough. It looks to me like the original pour was pretty poorly done and overworked. Whoever installed the original vinyl tiles used mass amounts of cutback to level the floor so it is 1/4" thick in some places, and just trowel thin in others. Additionally, when the tiles were removed they took some of the adhesive with them here and there as well as the smooth top layer of the slab. In short, there is not a flat section anywhere in the house.

The abatement contractor did a poor job removing the cutback. They spent four days (they said it usually takes one or two) working on the 500SF of floor in this part of the house and it looks like they got about 60SF clean. They eventually abandoned the wet-scraping method and tried Been-e-Doo soy based mastic remover (http://www.franmar.com) which has rendered the entire floor extremely sticky and did nothing to remove any additional cutback.

Obviously I want to encapsulate the cutback and level the floor with a SLC product. I have been reading Ardex's installation instructions for a variety of their products and talking to their very helpful rep, so I'm familiar with "manufacturer guidelines," but I want to know how this stuff is really being used in the industry. Here's my questions for the community (finally, right ):

1. Ardex says their approved products (K-15, K-55, Featherfinish) can only go over cutback "residue." I've got more than residue going on here, and I doubt it can be removed any further.

Has anyone covered more than "residue" with these products with long term success?

2. Did the abatement contractor screw me by using the Bean-e-Doo? It seems to have activated the cutback again, and everything I've read says using solvents or chemical cleaners on concrete is a terrible idea as it seeps into the pours of the concrete later to be released.

Has anyone used SLC products after Bean-e-Doo?
Do I need to wait till the cutback is totally dry again? Will it ever totally dry again?

3.Should I advise my friend not to pay the abatement contractor since they failed to remove the asbestos containing cutback? (she hired them directly to save the money of me managing them so I'm just being a nice guy here and giving her my advice instead of taking responsibility for this mess).

Thanks to all who take the time to slog through my lengthy post!!
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:12 PM   #2
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


Cutback would NEVER be spread out 1/4" thick. Not in a million years would it dry enough to lay overtop without horrendous bleeding.

There's another "black" adhesive product from that era called "emulsion" that was used as both adhesive and underlayment for purposes exactly like the butchered concrete slab you now have to deal with.

Be advised I'm only 51 years old so SOME of my interpretations of your information are coming down from the PREVIOUS generation-----in other words I'm trying to explain to you my 2nd hand (hearsay evidence in a court of law) knowledge.

Worst thing you can do with an adhesive removal is dissolve it to the degree that it can and will penetrate deeper into the pores of the concrete. So that's BAD for future bonding of cork or wood assuming your customer wants glue down products.

Rather than beat your head against the wall and against all my better judgement THIS is the ideal application for the floating products. Just FORGET about glue down. Cork and wood both can be "laminated" to floating/engineered systems that do not require adhesive.

Likewise, you are at this point SOL on SLC. You're not going to just DUMP out a bucket over this mess and expect good adhesion. Just get a REAL PRO with a 10' or at least 8' screed rod and Ardex Feather Finish. First pass you flatten out the slab. As that mixture is hardening you trowel it down as you would a concrete pour---------TIMING is everything.

Next day or at least a few hours later a REAL PRO who knows what a 20"-24" Marshalltown Xtralite Finishing Trowel is all about skimcoats that sucker dead smooth and flat.

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Last edited by BKM Resilient; 05-17-2012 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:51 PM   #3
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


Thanks BKM Resilient for the reply. It's always good to hear from a salty dog like yourself !
You are the first person to question the black stuff being cutback adhesive despite me mentioning how it was used to float out the crappy slab to begin with. "Emulsion" adhesive, huh? That's a valuable piece of info! Thanks.

I guess I forgot to mention in my original post that we ARE doing floating floors (4 1/4" cork plank in living room/hall and strand-woven bamboo in bedrooms). I've never been fond of glue down flooring and advised the client to go with a click/floating system early on.

I am no concret expert despite having done most every kind of concrete job at least once, so I was willing to train up and give the Ardex a try. I am having second thoughts now, and am leaning toward finding a REAL PRO as you mentioned to take care of it. My local Ardex rep is going to work with me and provide materials for me to practice with in their training area at my local supplier, so I'll probably do that and see how good I can get at it.

Everyone seems to say I need to remove ALL of the black stuff (whether it's "emulsion" or "cutback." I'm concerned that even with a REAL PRO smoothing it out, Featherfinish or K-15/55 won't adhere to the black stuff.

Anyone else have thoughts on that?
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:46 PM   #4
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


BKM,

I like feather finish, too, but since the floor is now sticky what about a pattern felt to stick onto the floor?
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:55 PM   #5
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


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Originally Posted by olzo55 View Post
BKM,

I like feather finish, too, but since the floor is now sticky what about a pattern felt to stick onto the floor?
*************************************
Where, under the patch? You'd have to use some glue. I'd be worried about that bonding more than something like Feather Finish or Webcrete 95 with latex additive.

He's got to level the floor and the big concern I would have is the bond to the slab with the adhesive remover residue. From experience I've seen that when I trowel over such messes the worst areas will react to the moisture in my patch and not allow a good bond. But the good part of that is that when you scrape up the loose or mushy areas caused by the contaminated slab you've generally cleaned off enough of the substance to now go back over and get a decent bond.

There are more aggressive means to that end like shot blasting or even pressure washing but this is a residence and that's probably not in the budget and barely feasible to begin with. Sometimes those solvents can be rinsed off with piping hot water and rags or mops------a lot of rinsing of the bucket!. In the end you just need the patch to stick solid. Good thing it's just a floating floor and you don't have to worry about incompatibility issues with the new adhesives and coverings.
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Old 05-18-2012, 11:35 PM   #6
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


You need to hire someone who has a shot blaster, Then prep floor after that with Ardex FF and glue to your hearts content. The concrete is saturated with cutback and other bond breaker junk. Thats if gluing anything down to it. If it's a floater then your wasting your time LOL Just throw some six mil over it and or a 2-3 in 1 cushion/vapor retarder.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:32 AM   #7
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


yeah after I re-read the post I saw the leveling requirement. Shot blast would get it all.
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:03 PM   #8
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


So whatever became of the asbestos guy? Did he give you T/M or what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BKM Resilient View Post
There are more aggressive means to that end like shot blasting
If it's got asbestos in it, that would be highly unwise. And it sounds like it's re-emulsified anyway.
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:26 PM   #9
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


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So whatever became of the asbestos guy? Did he give you T/M or what?


If it's got asbestos in it, that would be highly unwise. And it sounds like it's re-emulsified anyway.
**************************
Correct CO but I've done it a few times and apparently once the asbestos abatement has passed inspection they are TECHNICALLY free to abuse that slab to their hearts content. Supposedly all the danger is gone.

But I agree with your analysis. It's highly unwise.
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Old 06-11-2012, 04:29 PM   #10
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Re: What Is Your Experience Covering Cutback Adhesive On A Slab Floor?


Thanks to everyone for your comments on this topic!

Here is an update:

One of the owner's of the Abatement company came and looked at the floor and realized they screwed up. They didn't charge my client anything for the "work" they had done and basically just walked away from the job. It was his opinion upon finally seeing the slab that it needed to be replaced. I tend to agree with him at this point. He offered to dispose of the slab and file the necessary paperwork for the asbestos at his cost if the homeowner decided to jackhammer the slab out themselves which I thought was a stand-up thing to offer.

Since then, I have been advising the homeowner as she has gotten three other concrete contractors to look at the slab and give their opinions on whether it needs to be removed or can be covered.

One said definitely remove the slab and pour a new one. A new slab will prevent high transitions into the rest of the house and the front door and will allow for a proper vapor barrier to go down underneath. There is no existing vapor barrier under the slab and there are some signs of moisture (at least enough to make me nervous about putting cork and bamboo flooring over it).

The second suggested "chipping" off the top layer of the slab and then skim coating it, presumably with a self leveler product. He didn't say how he would do that or seem to acknowledge the asbestos content in the adhesive. I advised the homeowner to ask more questions about his process and his guarantee on the skim coat sticking. I haven't heard back on the answers to those questions yet.

Third guy was a tool who suggested just throwing down some 30lb felt and setting the flooring right over it. I guess he didn't notice how INCREDIBLY un-level the existing slab is (definitely outside the 3/16" in a 10' radius standard for click together flooring!).

The saga continues. . .

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