Q: I've heard that dry ice removes vinyl tiling from hardwood flooring. Is this true? — Anji, Seattle, Washington

A: Steve Thomas replies: I've never heard of using dry ice for that purpose before, but if it's true, then I'd think it works on the principle of making the tiles so brittle that they crack away and you can remove them. But I don't know how it is you would go about actually applying the dry ice to the tiling.

There is one other thing you should make sure of: that your flooring is indeed vinyl tiling rather than an older tile that may contain asbestos. You can't be too careful, because if it does contain asbestos, then you could be creating an environmental nightmare in your own home if you try to tackle the job yourself. So I would recommend getting an asbestos testing company in there to tell you what's in the tiles before proceeding any further. The problem with asbestos tile is that if you do any sanding then you can cause the asbestos to become airborne and contaminate the entire house. This can also be the case with the mastic that holds the tiles to the floor. (Mastic, now made without asbestos, is just a black goo that's used as an adhesive, but 20 or 30 years ago it had asbestos in it too to give it a nice consistency.) If that happens, you find yourself in a situation where a simple little job suddenly becomes the mammoth task of decontaminating your whole house. So what I'm saying is, better safe than sorry.

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