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?

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.

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.

Removing carpet, backing, linoleum, tile

Q: Is it possible to fill 1/4 or less cracks in hardwood floor before sanding and finishing?

For anyone who has carpet, linoleum, tile on their hardwood floors and are looking to remove it this is what we did. First we had to take off the very old 20+ year carpet and it’s pad which was falling apart. We first used a ice scraper. We also found a roofing shovel with ridged edges worked well for tough spots.

After carpet was removed, we found old linoleum backing under that. So we scrapped some more. Finally went to the local Menards (Hardware center) and asked for some tile/glue remover in the carpet/tile department. We got a gallon which you mix with water, put on a small area at a time, leave on for hour or two, and it worked like a miracle. The linoleum backing and glue scraped right off. After you scrap it off, you use clean water and a rag to rub off any extra glue that is left. You are left with a beautifully clean hardwood floor that is ready to finish. Hope this helps some of you.

A: All good tips. There may still be one variable that is unknown under this situation. It may be safely assumed that the adhesive from the linoleum has also seeped between the boards, and now is quite likely that this adhesive remover also resides there as well as in the heavy grain, if the wood happens to be oak, ash or other such heavy grained wood. How this will react with a floor finish is anyone’s guess.

Related Q: I tore out carpet that is probably 50 years old, and found hard wood floors, but I am having a terrible time getting the backing from the carpet off of the floor. Water isn’t working. HELP!

A: If it has simply stuck from age and is not glued on, you should be able to remove it with a flat blade drywall trowel.

Hardwood floors under tile

Q: We just purchased a house that has ceramic tile flooring in the living room. It is on top of a hardwood floor. I don’t know if there is a layer protecting the wood, but from peeking on one corner it looks like it was laid directly on the wood. Is there any hope of salvaging the wood floors underneath? Can you give us any tips for removing the tile?

A: I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the floor underneath. All that moisture from the cement? Removal? Heavy hammer, wrecking bar, gloves and band aids.

Removing tile

Q: We have a tile down the front hallway and wood almost everywhere else. Is it possible to lift the tile and replace it with the hardwood flooring we have left over from the doing the rest of the house?

A: Do you mean ceramic tile? Yes, you can break it up and remove it. Make sure you protect your floor from shards that break off.

Carefully removing boards

Q: My hardwood floors were installed under the kitchen cabinets and have not held up well. I would like to replace them with wider planks, but how do you remove the old flooring without tearing out the kitchen cabinets?

A: Either a hammer and chisel or toe kick saw.

Removing glued down laminate flooring

Q: I’m into a project removing glued down laminate flooring. How do I remove cheap, laminate, wood flooring from my foyer and hall way? It is glued down rather randomly throughout the space and is extremely difficult to tear out. Is their a product that will remove the glue and make this job a bit easier? The flooring is about a 13/8 inch thick, if that helps.

A: Cheap laminate is not generally a glue down product but a floater. I don’t know what the adhesive is, so it looks to me like a lot of muscle and time is what will take it out. If I knew, for example, that a Bostick adhesive was used, then they have an adhesive remover.

Glued laminate removal

Q: We have a 20 X 20 section of 1/4 inch wood laminate flooring. We are trying to remove the entire area to put down new floors in our home. We are having a difficult time removing the flooring as it is a click in place and it has been glued to a particle underlayment. Is there something that can be used to heat the glue to make the removal easier?

A: I would use a circular saw and cut the floor into smaller sections, about 3 feet wide and try using a wrecking bar. But then, you will still have the mess of the adhesive. You won’t have a smooth clean surface to work with. I don’t really like multiple layers, but in this case, since the laminate is very thin material, I would be inclined to screw 1/2, if not 5/8 plywood over top of it, into the joists.

Oily old floors

Q: I recently removed carpet and rubber padding from a bedroom (which did not stick) and removed all staples from a beautiful oak floor. The problem is the oak floor feels oily! Is this because it has been covered for so many years? What should I use to clean this up? The house is approximately 50 yrs old.

A: If this is a wax finish, which is a good chance, given it’s age, Dura Seal has a good product called Renovator for waxed floors. www.duraseal.com If it is varnish or polyurethane, you may wipe it down with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits or purchase a polyurethane cleaner such as ****** cleaner, Basic Coatings Squeaky cleaner, or the Dura Seal or ****** cleaners from you local hardwood flooring supplier.

Oak floor underneath

Q: I have recently moved into a house which has 1930’s vinyl flooring throughout the ground floor. I had pulled this up and found underneath some sort of board- hammered down with hundreds of nails. I have managed to pry some of this board up with a crows for and a mallet but it is very hard work. Is there an easier way? Underneath is a lovely old oak floor which just needs sanding and finishing. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

A: I will give you the best suggestion I can give anyone for this job. Hire a professional. This work really is beyond the scope of most home owners.

Tongue and groove grime

Q: We are removing 3/4″ X 2 1/2″ oak flooring from an old farm house. Do you have any advice as “How” to remove the dirt, grime, soot, etc. in the “tongue and groove area”. The dirt is packed in and hard to remove with a stiff brush.

A: I would think it is a lot of hard, patient slogging, unless you want to get creative and set up a router table with a bit to clean out the areas. I wish I had more to offer.