This floor is about 20 years old. It's some kind of fake plasticky tile (no seams between the tiles, looks like all one sheet) on top of a lighter gray papery material on top of a darker gray concrete-like material (but not as hard). I drilled a little hole for inspection, and I didn't go all the way down, but ultimately there is a wood subfloor at the bottom.

I'm looking to replace this floor with vinyl planks. Can I just peel off this plastic stuff, apply floor primer, and lay the planks over that?ugly beige fake tile floor

  • An answer notes that this looks like possible asbestos. Is the house only 20 years old? Because if it is older then there might be asbestos underneath, and asbestos is generally safe if undisturbed but tearing it up is, at least in some places, a major ordeal. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 1:45
  • The floor is 20 years, but the house is more like 80. The previous floor was tile. Was asbestos flooring sold 20 years ago?
    – alexantd
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 2:05
  • 1
    Asbestos flooring was not supposed to be sold 20 years ago. But it might have been an underlayment under the previous tile, left in place and covered by the new (now 20 years old) sheet flooring. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 2:13
  • 1
    That makes sense. Thanks.
    – alexantd
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 2:47
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    It may be worth having a small sample tested so you know for sure whether it's asbestos or not. While it may look asbestos-like, it's really hard to tell by looking at it. If it is, the accepted answer would be a very good way of dealing with it. If it's not asbestos, then dig in and remove it completely if you want.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 12:11

2 Answers 2


Clearly sheet vinyl (often misnomered linoleum, i.e. polmerized linseed oil and cloth, the original sheet plastic floor, rarely seen in the wild these days.)

At 20 years old (2001) unless you are in some crazy country that did not stop using asbestos when it became clear what a hazard it was, it is not at all likely to be asbestos backed, but you could have a sample checked if the age is questionable or you want to be paranoid about it.

Asbestos can only be identified in a lab test. A picture of one fibrous material and another fibrous material will look pretty much identical regardless of asbestos content or lack thereof. The backing is much more likely to be plain old paper at that age.

  • Linoleum, real linoleum, is still widely used in hospitals because it's naturally anti-bacterial. Beyond that, not so much...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 16:51

that looks like asbestos backed linoleum glued to the wood. You will have lots of fun with that. If the linoleum is intact can you just put the vinyl floor planks down on it and leave well enough alone?

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