removing plywood from old fir

warminsApril 30, 2012

In preparation for a kitchen remodel on a 1939 house, a contractor suggested that we may have fir under the vinyl tile. I love the look and am happy to save some money. I pried up some of the tiles and there is a layer of plywood. I got enough of the plywood off to see that there is indeed what looks like beautiful fir under the plywood. But how to get all that plywood up without gouging or damaging the fir?

Thanks for any advice.

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If you can get the tiles off first, that may expose the heads of the nails fastening the plywood to the fir. If so, then using a hammer and suitable hand tools you should be able to get beneath the nails and pry them up through the plywood. After enough of the nails are released, it should be easy to lift the plywood panel off at that point.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 11:50PM
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Thanks for your quick response. So far I haven't noticed any nails but I haven't taken up much of the plywood.

I suppose it wouldn't be safe (for the fir underneath) to take some kind of saw and make some shallow cuts through both the tile and plywood. I am a total neophyte but I did buy myself a nice circular saw.

What kind of tool do you recommend for taking off the tile? I see folks on DIY shows using something that looks like a giant wide putty knife on a long handle. Do you know what those are called? Can those be rented? I used a regular putty knife and a hammer - slow going.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:11PM
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What kind of tile are you talking about and how thick is the plywood?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:26PM
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The tiles are vinyl or some such material - looks like they have been put down with regular glue rather than peel & stick (the residue on the exposed plywood is black in places), although not 100% sure - just guessing by estimate of age of tiles - probably from the 70's - ugly but still in good shape. The plywood appears to be 1/4 ".

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:19PM
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If the tiles are brittle, i.e. they break and crumble when attempting to remove them, they might be a vinyl asbestos construction.

Find out all you can about VAT and then make decisions based on what you learn.

The plywood is most likely attached with staples...see if that is true. If it is, then the panels will come up with the tile attached with little effort. Get a prybar or two under the leading edge and pry the panels loose. The best prybars for this are what we call 'wonder bars' and are about an inch and a half in width.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 10:40AM
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