Advice on removing old floor covering

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Elizabeth

Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by Elizabeth »

I discovered that my 80 year old home is floored throughout with native cypress. That's the good news. The bad news is that under the carpeting (even my dog knows how to pull up old wall-to-wall carpet!) is a flooring material popular in the 50s called (I think) "asphalt carpet." This stuff I remember from my grandmother's home. It has a floral patterned top layer bonded to a substance most resembling roofing felt. My problem is that it is mostly stuck to the cypress floors. I have tried several methods of removal - solvent (really nasty mess); heating (difficult with modern automatic switch-off heating pads and irons); and scraping (crude, slowwwwww, but eventually effective). I was hoping to complete this project in this lifetime, but I'm pushing 50 and worried that this project may be left to my heirs to complete (Gee, thanks, Mom. Why didn't you leave us money?!!!). As this material was very popular, I'm sure someone out there has found a more efficient method of removal than I have. Even my dog won't touch this one! Help, please!

nipper@net-2000.net

Ken Holmes

Re: Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by Ken Holmes »

Elizabeth;

Whether you want to go this route or not I don't know, but the efficient way to remove this gunk is to have a flooring crew sand it off.

But before hitting the yellow pages, there's a bigger issue you should deal with: Given the age of the flooring you're pulling up, there's a pretty good likelihood that the asphalt goo you're having so much trouble removing contains asbestos.

If you haven't tested for this, you should, for your own safety's sake. This junk is fine as long as you leave it alone -- and fairly scary when you start messing with it.

If the material contains asbestos, I certainly would advise against doing any further removal yourself. The question then would become whether you could find a fully licensed and legal asbestos abatement contractor capable of sanding the floors in a hazardous-material setting. You might find someone but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Don't mean to be the bearer of bad news -- but in the end your health is more important than those cypress floors!

Good luck,

Ken Holmes

The Old House Web

kholmes@mail.oldhouseweb.com

craig marlowe

Re: Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by craig marlowe »

I have removed similar material from several kitchens (never the whole house). The two methods which worked the best are (in order of severity): 1) Slam scrapper from Home Depot in the flooring section. Slow but eventually effective and if careful minimal damage to the floors.

2) Electric floor scrapper from tool rental company. This electric scrapper has a very dull blade and is used to remove tile. I have had great success using this to "mow" the floor with almost no floor damage - AS LONG AS YOU STAY WITH THE GRAIN

Good luck

craig.marlowe@bankofamerica.com

craig marlowe

Re: Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by craig marlowe »

I agree with the asbestos - it is guaranteed with the square glued down tile - however, we have never had success sanding this material. I have a slightly brain dead flooring contractor (must be the asbestos) who has even taken 6 grit paper to this material and very little results.

craig.marlowe@bankofamerica.com

K. C.

Re: Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by K. C. »

Having done this in 4 rooms of my present home ( a former nursing home), I can testify that there is no easy way. I chiseled up the flooring with a hammer and scraper, and used a wallpaper scraper with replaceable blades to get up the black tarpaper. Buy lots of blades, and go with the grain to avoid divoting the floor. To get up the last of the black gunk, I used Parks adhesive remover, and the wallpaper scraper. The last layer was a grey glue that is water soluble, so I used warm water, a scrub brush, and lots of rags. Let the water stay on the floor as little as possible so that the floor boards don't warp or contract, and let the floor dry a while (2 weeks?) before sanding and finishing. I tried sanding and the big scrapers but this method was most effective, with the least damage to the floor. I don't think there is asbestos in the tarpaper and glue, but you might want to wear a respirator during the chisel-up phase. Also the Parks smells and acts like paint stripper, so use plenty of ventilation. It's a rotten job, but have at it. The results are well worth the time and effort.

Patricia

Re: Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by Patricia »

Can these theories be used to remove the tar paper under original linoleum? I have a 1889 victorian and we have removed the carpet in the kitchen and have one layer of original linoleum to remove to get to nice wide plank boards.....What do you all think?

queenanne7@AOL.com

tfrmmr
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Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:08 pm

removing old flooring

Post by tfrmmr »

According to my carpenter dad, asbestos is only in the tiles, not the 'gloo' on the floor. I know all about that #@!! gunky flooring--I just renovated a 1920's bungalow with many 'updates' I had to remove. Sweat drenched and debris covered, I hammered a big crowbar wedged into the felt and wood floor. I hacked 5 hours to scrape a 5x5 section of tile on tile flooring in the a/c it was still a miserably hot job. . maybe not the best way. But I uncovered enough wood to see it wasn't worth slaving just in keeping with preservation. Lacking time nor patience to finish that 230 sq.ft. room, I opted to recover that section with good felt and laid carpet. It's a high traffic area and looks great now with low-nap berber.

lee polowczuk
Posts: 146
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:04 am

Re: Advice on removing old floor covering

Post by lee polowczuk »

Patricia wrote:Can these theories be used to remove the tar paper under original linoleum? I have a 1889 victorian and we have removed the carpet in the kitchen and have one layer of original linoleum to remove to get to nice wide plank boards.....What do you all think?

queenanne7@AOL.com

I used hot water and scraped up the "tar paper" the best i could... then hired someone to sand the oak floors.. they started with 36 grit, i believe.

this was in my kitchen.... best 280 dollars i ever spent for the professional floor sander.... i then stained and finished.

btw... i had 7 layers of stuff to remove....


Image
Last edited by lee polowczuk on Wed Nov 28, 2007 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Texas_Ranger
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Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
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Post by Texas_Ranger »

Most floor sanding companies won't touch gunky floors, so you have to remove it first.
Most ideas have already been mentioned, here's one more (crazy) one: try cooling it. Maybe liquid nitrogen gets it brittle enough to scrape off ;)

An electric scraper is the next best bet I guess.

A professional's advice would usually be: buy a new floor.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com

KathyJB
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roofing paper ugh

Post by KathyJB »

Found the same thing on my floor. I don't think a whole lot of it stayed on the floor. When we sanded, most of it came up. The rest kinda gave it a little character. Now the question is, will it stain and will it seal?

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