Will replacing a few strips cause the floor to buckle later on?

Q: I recently purchased a newly built home with maple hardwood floors throughout the house. The builder installed the floors and then a few sub-trades came in to install doors and paint. As a result, the floors have some scratches and a few deep nicks throughout the home, as well as paint splashes. The boards are in strips and the builder has offered to replace a few strips here and there and then sand down and refinish other areas. I’ve been told that replacing a few strips will only cause the floor to buckle down the road. Is this true? Is replacing a few strips and sanding a viable option to re-doing the whole area? My fear is that the floors will buckle a few months later.

A: If this is factory finished flooring, the only way you will get an exact match is by replacing the boards or having all the floors sanded. No, replacing boards doesn’t cause your floor to buckle. Only excessive moisture can cause that.

Similar Q: We have just purchased a new home with approximately 1200-1300 sq. feet of 3/4 inch pre-finished Oak hardwood flooring. About 250-300 boards are split. The contractor wants to replace the boards. Is it feasible to replace this number of boards without affecting the integrity of the floor? We are concerned that the floor will never be the same, and that we will end up with a major repaired floor as opposed to the “new” floor we expected to come with our new house.

A: That is a huge number of boards to replace. No doubt about that. Is this pre-finished flooring? If they use a good adhesive I don’t see that this would be inferior to what you have now, but if this isn’t pre-finished, it would all have to be sanded again.

Saving old wood floor covered with tile

Q: We have a 100 year old house. The entrance way has wood floor, with very old tile on top. We want to save the wood floor. What can be done?

A: A number of issues arise here. How do you know the floor is thick enough to be sanded? If it is hardwood, it is likely the old 3/8 thick type which can be sanded twice. The tiles, almost guaranteed are reinforced asbestos tile. I would advice you to pass unless you are able to easily remove the tiles without much breakage.

What would be the best way to pull up hardwood floors that have been glued down?

Q: What is the best way to remove laminated wood strip flooring that has been glued down to concrete?

A: Hire some young, strong, cheap labour? Good question. I would start with a large wrecking bar and see how that works. You may have to rent a tile chipper. Depends the adhesive used. Probably some sort of mastic. Then you have to deal with the stuff on the sub floor.

Similar Q: What would be the best way to pull up hardwood floors that have been glued down?

A: A wrecking bar and a strong back OR rental of a tile remover. It is a machine with a blade in front and it gives quick chopping motions.

How to remove some old tile

Q: I am trying to figure out how to remove some old tile that has plywood underneath. My house was built in the 1900’s and I guess later the owners wanted to update the kitchen with that awful red, tile looking brick. We discovered in a corner that there is the mortar or whatever is under the tile, and then a thick layer of plywood. What would be the easiest and safest way of removing old tile floor without damaging the hardwood floor?

A: These tiles likely contain asbestos. I think I would either cover over it or hire a firm that specializes in asbestos removal.

Removing floor glued to OSB

Q: I have a very cheap engineered hardwood floor that was destroyed by high heel shoes. It needs to be replaced. It is glued down to Advantech OSB. I have been told this will be a nightmare to remove. I was then told just to nail down 3/4′ oak over the top of the old floor. The old floor is 3/8′ thick. Is installing new floors over these layers a good idea?

A: I wouldn’t nail anything over top of the floor you have. I would try a wrecking bar or rent a machine that is used to remove tile.

Floor blocking dishwasher

Q: I need to pull up a couple of rows of laminate hardwood flooring in my kitchen as the ‘do-it-yourself-er’ who owned my home previously put in the flooring without allowing for the dishwasher to be removed. The dishwasher is now broken and it’s stuck. The tongue and groove flooring in 6′ by 2.5 ft sections seems to be glued down. How do I go about pulling it up without damaging it so that I can put it back down? Is there anyway I can make the boards removable so that I can get the new dishwasher out if needed?

A: I don’t have any good news on this question. If it is glued down you may as well pull that laminate up and put down a new floor. All these type of floors are click joint and have been for a number of years now. Why someone would glue it down is a mystery but inexperienced DIY persons do some strange things. If laminate is what you want for the kitchen, I would recommend either a Torly’s or Quick Step product.

Little staples sunk into the wood

Q: I just bought a house that was built in 1942. I tore up the carpet in it, due to being completely nasty, and found that there was wood flooring underneath. It’s in pretty bad shape. It has paint all over it. I think it would look really nice if refinished. However, when I started to look, there are all kinds of little staples sunk into the wood. Does this mean they’ve been sanded down too much? If not, what are they? The flooring is about 3/4″ thick. what should I do?

A: Is the wood actually the pine sub floor or is it 3/4″ thick hardwood? The staples, I presume in the top of the boards, are likely from the carpet under pad being stapled down. Not a concern. Pull as many out as possible and if any legs break off, counter sink them with a fine tip nail set.

We really want to save as much of the wood as we can

Q: We just bought a 1950’s home with all original hardwood floors. They were covered in carpet and still in pristine shape. We’re in the process of remodleing the home, which includes moving several walls and expanding off the back of the house. We really want to save as much of the wood as we can and reuse it in the main part of the house. Prior to construction starting we want to pull up all the floors. Is this possible without damaging them so that we can relay them once the house is complete?

A: If the floors are 3/4 thick, yes it is worth saving them. If this is the old 3/8 type, in my view, it is hardly worth it. After re installing it, so much would have to be removed to get them flat, there would likely be little wear surface left. That type of floor can safely be sanded 2 times-3 is you are lucky.

How do I remove engineered wood floors that are glued directly to a slab?

Q: How do I remove engineered wood floors that are glued directly to a slab?

A: I’ve not had the joy of doing one of these yet, and if one comes up, I may have to decide I am too old to face it.:) You can rent a “chopper” for tile removal. It has a blade on the front and when you start it up, the blade moves in and out. Bostik also sells adhesive removers which might help to soften it up.

Removing staples from wood floor

Q: Is there a tool to remove 1 1/4″ staples from wood floors without breaking the staple? How do I go about removing staples from wood floor?

A: Ingenuity is the best tool. :) Are you talking about “U” shaped carpet staples? They can be tough. Screw driver, nail punch, wire cutters and a I’ve seen a tool at the hardware store which I don’t know the name of. It looks like wire cutters, except the cutting edges are facing the front of the cutters. They look like something you could pull a tooth out with.

Removing floor laid with rubberized adhesive

Q: I had a flood and the engineered wood floor which was laid with rubberized adhesive must come up. It is glued on a concrete slab. What is the best way to remove the floor?

A: Honestly, I think if you know who manufactures the adhesive, your best place to start would be to contact them. I know with Bostik, they have a cleaner that will actually dissolve there urethane adhesives. Perhaps you have Dritac?

How to save the subflooring when removing hardwood?

Q: I am removing oak hardwood floors in my ’89 home that are glued down onto particle board subflooring. I will be replacing it with tile. There is about 300 sq. feet of hardwood flooring that needs to come up. I’ve been researching methods online with little success and what I have read makes it sound like a total nightmare. Will I be able to salvage my subflooring by carefully removing it with a prybar and hammer? Besides using my circular saw to cut small sections at a time for removal are there any other secrets to this inevitably painful project?

A: I don’t know any secrets I’m afraid. If you ever find one for this situation, let me know. I think I would be screwing down 3/4 plywood over top afterward, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with mucking up what you have. I can only think of one reason anyone would install such a sub floor– It was cheap.

Ripping out linoleum

Q: I just took ugly laminate flooring off my kitchen floor. It still has two different linoleum’s that are glued down. I need two take it down to the wood. How do I do this, without destroying the wood? Do I use some kind of heat gun and scrape out with a scraper or am I out going to hurt the floor itself?

A: If you are lucky and this was installed properly, then you should have 1/4 poplar under that, stapled to the sub floor. That would be much easier to remove. If you need to remove this because it is sitting on a hardwood floor, it is likely the floor isn’t worth saving, which is why they covered it over. I would consider removing the entire mess down to the sub floor, install 3/8 spruce sheeting and then a new hardwood floor.

Removing the parquet first?

Q: So, parquet flooring should come up before hardwood of any type, 3/4″ or engineered, goes down, nailed of course?

A: If you want to be sure your new floor is solid and stays that way, I wouldn’t even consider installing over parquet, or even over another strip floor. Take it out. Make sure the sub floor is solid and secure, and then install the new floor.

Removing tar paper

Q: I need to remove the tar paper and tar backing left behind while stripping my pine floors of years of layering from laminates. I believe this material was laid sometime in the 1940’s or 1950’s and it was adhered directly to the pine plank flooring. How do I remove this tar paper like material?

A: Never been down this road. Would it work to heat the tar paper with a heat gun, enough to soften it and cause it to release from the wood? You would still need to have the floors sanded after ward if you plan to use these as your finished floor.

Similar Q: My daughter and I just ripped up 2-3 layers of linoleum and have discovered old wood flooring. it seems to be in good condition and I would love to refinish it. Unfortunately, it looks like someone put down a layer of tar paper. I was just wondering if stripper would take the tar off? Or if there is a better way to do it? We can’t afford a professional at this time.

A: Mineral spirits will probably soften it enough to remove, but you have a mess in any case.

(If someone out there can provide an solid answer, please contact us! We can post your answer, with your name and a link to your site if you can provide information.)

Related Q: I live in an old house and someone put down glued tar paper, then tile, on top of the hardwood floor. We took of the tile and I started using stripper to take up the tar paper/glue, but it takes hours to let it sit and scrape, sit and scrape. Is there an easier way we can do this? We can’t afford to have someone do it and we rather like doing it ourselves. (By the way, we already did one floor- no tar paper, only tile/glue, and it looks fantastic!)

A: The ‘easier way’ is to hire someone who knows what they are doing and has spent the money for equipment to do it. Since you enjoy doing this, the amount of time spent should only increase your pleasure.

Refinishing used gymnasium flooring

Q: We obtained about 500 sq. ft of maple gymnasium flooring that we want to refinish and install in our cabin. The flooring is probably 50 years old or more and has been heavily waxed, and it looks as though there may be a shellac finish under that. We had to dismantle the flooring but we are at a loss as to the best way of taking the finish down to the bare wood, removing the old gym lines, and then refinishing.

A: You really need to get a professional sander/finisher involved in this if you want a clean, flat floor. If you have absolutely nothing to fill your days for weeks to come, then you can hand scrape it or use little tiny hand tools and chip away at it. That doesn’t make sense to me, but I know that you can’t rent my equipment and it takes a period of apprenticeship to become skilled at using it. Spend some money and save yourself a lot of grief.

1/4 Inch thick wood floors?

Q: I have a number of damaged areas in my 80 yr. old floor. I pulled up one board section and it is 1/4 inch thick. Can I get this material any more?

A: The standard thickness, for decades with long strip is 3/8 top to bottom. I’ve never seen anything 1/4. If this floor was originally 3/8, then you are down to the tongue and groove, with nothing left to sand.

Removing staples

Q: My recently purchased home has oak flooring underneath the carpeting in my living room. I was able to remove the carpeting, padding, and tack board easily enough. They also put down linoleum glued to plywood in the entry way of the living room. This also came up easily enough (with a little extra effort). My problem is this: They used heavy 3/4″ staples to secure the plywood to my oak floors, and every method we’ve tried to remove the staples has been mostly unsuccessful. The staples are in so far that one of my boards nearly came our with part of the staple! For the most part, the staples just snap off leaving me with two prongs sticking out of the floor. Any suggestions on how I can get these out without ruining the floor?

A: I have seen a plier type of tool that looks like it was meant to pull teeth. I would get one of those. That is the problem with staples. Even with installing, if a guy uses a staple nailer and it mis fires…getting the staple out is a pain. I don’t like them either.