How To Encapsulate Black Mastic

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

If you are one of the millions who have discovered the existence of asbestos in your home or business, you likely know how unsettling black mastic can be. The majority of black mastic found in older homes and businesses contains asbestos, a substance that has been linked to many serious health problems.

The best way to encapsulate black mastic is with penetrating or bridging encapsulant. Clean the surface of the black mastic with a neutral cleaner like Waxie-Green Solsta 243 before you apply an encapsulant. Avoid sanding the surface, wear eye and mouth protection, and use a professional sprayer from a home improvement store to safely encapsulate black mastic.

This guide is here to take you through your encapsulation project so that you can choose the right products, and prepare black mastic for installation the proper way. Let’s get to it!

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Choosing The Right Encapsulation Product

Choosing the right encapsulation product for the job is an integral part of creating a lasting solution that does not break the bank.

There are many products available that can successfully encapsulate black mastic and the ‘right’ one for you will depend on the materials and condition of the surface to be covered.

Penetrating Encapsulant

Penetrating encapsulant is very much as it sounds. When applied to a surface, the product seeps down into the material before hardening. The idea behind this type of encapsulation is that the sealant works to lock fibers within the material in place.

Bridging Encapsulant

Bridging encapsulants, such as floating floors, plastic covers, and some types of specialized carpets, can be effective in sealing off hazardous materials. Unlike penetrating encapsulants, however, these simply cover the problem and therefore have a less permanent result.

Preparing The Black Mastic For Encapsulation

Whether you prefer the penetrating or bridging encapsulation methods, the process of preparing the black mastic for sealing is nearly the same.

Step 1: Check For Damage To The Black Mastic

The first thing that you should do is check the black mastic flooring for any signs of damage. Damage can come in the form of lose tiles (12 x 12 and 9 x 9 in. tiles are very commonly seen in connection with asbestos flooring), worn corners, abrasions, and much more.

Because it is the fibers from these materials that can affect serious harm, any damage to black mastic could mean that fibers are more susceptible to becoming airborne.

Step 2: Clean The Surface With A Neutral Cleaning Product

Some products designed to encapsulate black mastic can have trouble adhering to certain surfaces. To remedy this situation, it is a good idea to clean the area before applying the sealant. Ensure that the cleaner is neutral and will not upset the black mastic. Waxie-Green Solsta 243 is quite good.

Things To Avoid

The nature of black mastic makes it difficult to work with in certain situations. Any material or action that will disturb the black mastic can result in a release of the hazardous fibers within. For that reason, there are a few things to avoid when preparing your black mastic flooring for encapsulation.

  • Never sand or buff black mastic or tiles that you suspect to have asbestos.
  • Removing black mastic should not be seen as a DIY project. There are many laws outlining precise methods for its removal.
  • Chemical strippers should never be used as they can upset the integrity of the black mastic. Using chemicals that can break down the material can cause a release of asbestos into the air.

Materials Required To Encapsulate Black Mastic

Materials needed to apply the encapsulating product are fairly straightforward. You will need gloves, a respirator, eye protection, professional spraying equipment, and any other safety gear that your particular situation calls for.

One of our favorite professional sprayers is the Titan ControlMax 1700 Pro which you can find at several home improvement stores. Another fantastic solution is the Graco TC Pro Cordless sprayer as it allows much more freedom of movement while you work. The only downsides are that the batteries must be managed and the reservoir must be topped up frequently.

Encapsulating Black Mastic

Once you have prepared the black mastic floor and you are properly suited up, it is time to start the encapsulating process.

If you are using a liquid sealant, always read the labels and provided information carefully before spraying. Each product is different in how it should be mixed as well as how concentrated it is. Further, many black mastic encapsulation solutions provide different opportunities depending on how far you dilute.

For example, if you are spraying a product like ABC over a porous surface, a mixture of water and the sealant at a one-to-one ratio will work perfectly. The level of dilution will allow the sealant to penetrate deep inside of the material thus locking in the dangerous fibers.

Using Sealants

Alternatively, you can also use many sealants at full strength to create a type of shell over the surface. Using highly concentrated encapsulants allows you to completely coat a variety of surfaces and materials with ease.

After deciding on the correct ratio of sealant to water for your black mastic floor, spraying it on is a simple task. Holding the sprayer approximately a foot and a half from the surface, spray the sealant in wide, sweeping motions until an even coating is achieved.

Most sealants will dry in less than 2 hours. However, you will always want to check the product to see what the drying time is just in case. You don’t want to assume it’s a quicker drying time otherwise it can cause you to mess up a portion of your project. You don’t want to do this as this is a very costly mistake and usually involves buying more materials to fix.

Doesn’t Black Mastic Have Asbestos?

The answer to this question is complicated. Sometimes black mastic has asbestos and other times it doesn’t. It’s important when you work with it that you assume it does just in case so that you don’t expose yourself to asbestos if you break it or somehow cause the asbestos to become airborne.

Even though some do have asbestos, it’s not necessarily dangerous as long as you don’t do anything that will make it come into the air. If you want to remove black mastic and you suspect that it has asbestos, you’ll want to make sure you hire a professional instead of doing this yourself, as it’s very toxic and very dangerous.

Related Questions

Can I just leave black mastic alone and forget about it?

Whether you should leave black mastic alone or simply forget about largely depends on the condition of the black mastic. As it most often contains asbestos, the black mastic should be observed carefully.

If there is damage to the black mastic tiles, or if some parts of the mastic have been removed or otherwise disturbed, it is wise to seal it. On the other hand, if the black mastic is still in good condition, it is common practice to cover it with either a floating floor or carpeting.

Is black mastic hazardous when sealed?

Black mastic is only hazardous when sealed if the seal is broken or if the black mastic is disturbed somehow. The danger derived from black mastic most often comes when the tiles are removed as that is when particulates are released into the air.

Is black mastic encapsulation a sustainable solution?

Encapsulating black mastic is a sustainable solution in that unless it is disturbed there is no longer a health risk related to asbestos. Encapsulating black mastic also cost less than abatement which is another reason many people choose to encapsulate black mastic instead of conducting costly removal processes.

How much does it cost to encapsulate black mastic?

The cost of black mastic encapsulation is far less than removal. Apart from labor fees and some other charges a professional service may charge you, the binding compounds used to encapsulate black mastic generally run from $200-$300 dollars per 5 gal bucket.

While there are different types of sealant available, one commonly used product comes from a company called Norkan. If you use their Fiberlock ABC encapsulant, expect to pay around $200 per bucket. Each bucket will seal approximately 75 sq. ft.

Should I encapsulate black mastic myself?

Handling black mastic can be seriously hazardous to your health. If you are aware of the dangers and have taken the necessary safety precautions, then encapsulating black mastic certainly can be done in DIY style. Just remember to research your particular situation thoroughly before beginning the project.

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Wrapping It Up

Encapsulating black mastic is a great idea, especially if it’s in your home and you don’t want to pay the price to hire a professional to do this for you. By making sure you do it correctly, you can ensure the safety of you and your family. However, you need to take your time and make sure you do all the steps properly, otherwise, you may still be exposing your home to asbestos.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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