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.

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  1. Follow-up Q: I don’t think the adhesive remover has seeped into the cracks or grain. Once you clean it up with water, it is very clean, and no remaining residue on floor. I can not see that it has gotten into cracks either. It all appears to be very clean now. The floor is smooth, not tacky feeling any more, and just lovely and ready to sand. I think if it got between cracks then it would be noticeable, but since we still have gaps, I would say it has not. Are ¼ cracks normal for wood floors?

    A: No, quarter inch gaps would not be considered normal. Gaps the thickness of a dime would be considered “normal”. With such large gaps there are a couple of approaches I might use. You can use latex/water based fillers sold in tubs at flooring retailers, such as Bona or Woodwise filler. You could then fill the entire floor. Given the size of the gaps, you would have to do this several times. I would allow over night between filling. The one draw back with these fillers is they tend to pop out if there is movement in the floor. Another option is to use Timbermate wood filler which promises not to crack out, and this filler seems best used for large gaps only, since I have heard it is quite difficult to sand. Or you could squirt some moisture cure urethane adhesive into the gaps. This adhesive can be purchased from Home Depot. This will foam up as it cures but is sandable and stainable. It will never pop out. when it dries you could sand it flat and apply above wood fillers over top of it, just to fill in the air pockets that are exposed when you sand the surface of the adhesive.
    Just a few ideas.

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