I just bought a 1923 home in Cleveland, OH, and had a weird problem with the flooring in the half bath on the main floor. As you can see from the photos, there is not only a bulge in the flooring, but also a weird liquid seeping up from the floor. My kids wash their hands in the bathroom, and probably splash water on the floor, but I'm not sure if that's what's causing it.


1.) What is the red material underneath the green vinyl/linoleum tile floor? 2.) What could that leak be? 3.) Any idea what the bulge in the floor might be? 4.) Could we safely lay tile over the floor? 5.) Is there asbestos material or tar material from earlier time periods that may be toxic, if so who can I call to remove/repair this?

Thank you very much!

Please ignore the white spots, we were painting and always intended to remove the flooring, so mistakes were made!.

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  • Is it a rubbery substance? I wonder if it is RedGuard...
    – auujay
    Sep 2, 2018 at 19:28
  • 1
    It may be red guard on top of an older linoleum floor, I would want to remove everything down to the wood floor to make sure the trapped moisture has not rotted the floor. On my current home the bath had 6 layers of different kinds of older flooring 2 I know had asbestos, lucky the moisture I had was trapped between layers and the wood was good and removing all the layers provided enough room to put down backer board and tile.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 2, 2018 at 20:08
  • Who could I call to remove the a flooring if asbestos tile is present? Any idea what may be causing the bulge or the weird liquid substance eeking out? There are four total pictures, sorry if I didn't link them correctly!
    – Brendan
    Sep 2, 2018 at 21:30
  • Is the red layer paper? Rosin paper? Dec 26, 2019 at 16:03

1 Answer 1


I would be more concerned about what appears to be a low spot the toilet sets in according to the first picture. It may be the floor is bulged there, and it makes it look like the toilet is sunk, but there is an issue there. It may be the root of the problem. The red stuff may be the adhesive layer of the peel and stick tile that you have now, but I don't think it's that. I would think it is the color of the next old floor down. The picture does't show it all, but it is curious how that red layer looks like it is coming up as well as the tile above it, like the joints in the tile are lined up.

Your answer to 2 and 3, is the toilet leaking swelling the floor, in my opinion. and 4, the floor needs to come up, down to the subfloor to expose any rot, so it can be repaired.

5, Since your house is old enough to have asbestos tile and there may be many layers on the floor, yes the possibility is there. The are asbestos remediation companies out there that test and remove the asbestos if any is found. These companies are pricey in what they do, IMHO.

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