If your home was built in the 1920s-1940s, it is likely that your home has magnesite flooring. Magnesite flooring consists of Magnesium Oxychloride, which is a white asbestos material. Magnesite was applied to the top of concrete ground floors, which resulted in reddish-pink hued colored floors. Homes built all the way through the 1960s may also have magnesite flooring as it was still sometimes used up until about the 1970s. It is important to determine whether or not your home has magnesite floors because this type of flooring is unsafe and should be replaced.
Floors that were made from magnesite are prone to getting damp since they do not remain moisture proof. When this occurs, the chlorides that are in the magnesite flooring end up seeping into the concrete that is beneath the top coat. If it is bad enough, it can even corrode the reinforcements of the floor or corrode any water or gas pipes that may be present. Since Magnesite is water soluble, that means that it will always return to its previous state if it exposed to enough water. So what does this mean for homeowners
Magnesite floors are tricky to work with especially if you are trying to refurbish or renovate your home. Since magnesite is flexible, it is not a suitable material to simply be overlaid by a smoothing compound. It is also not a good material to be used with some types of floor coverings. Something flexible such as carpet can be successfully used but if a more resilient covering is used, then problems are likely to occur. Do to the fact that magnesite was used in old homes, it also means that by now, your magnesite floor might not be in the best of shape and is likely showing signs of wear and tear. If this is the case, the best solution is simply to dig out the old material and replace it with a more resilient product.