Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

weedyacresMay 5, 2013

I bought myself a $50 wallpaper steamer and went to work on my hardwood floors this past week. It really works! Here are some photos:

Front bedroom before, with glue-down carpet pad of ~70's vintage, judging by the shag carpet on top of it.

I scraped off the cushy part of the pad, and used the steamer on the residue.

And here's the after. Still has some film in a few areas, but it should sand out fine.

Back bedroom before, with some sort of trowelled-on adhesive.

And after (not quite done).

It's about 8 hours of work per 11x11 room, so hasn't gone real fast. But it's not backbreaking work by any means, just slow going and tedious.

The bedroom floors are in decent shape. There's one board with a gouge in it, and a few spots with small divots, but whatever doesn't sand out I'll just leave as "character" marks. Other than the water-damaged hall area, everything I've exposed looks completely refinishable.

The kitchen is another whole ball game, as there's a couple layers of glued-down vinyl to deal with, not just residue, so it requires a lot more elbow grease and upper body strength. :-) But the steamer softens everything up, allowing me to make progress with various and sundry scrapers. And after several rounds I can get down to the bare wood. Here are some progress photos:

This was with a lot of manual scraping with a wonderbar:

And here's after a bit of work with the steamer.

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I'll never understand why people cover up beautiful wood floors. You're doing a great job!

We pulled up shag carpeting last week. Then we pulled up padding that had been nailed into the wood floors only to find another layer of carpet. Below that final layer was what I assume to be the rubber backing or even padding. It had been there so long that it had disintegrated into a greenish powder on top of the wood floors. lol I'm hoping a good cleaning with a stiff deck brush will bring it up. As you can see from the picture, there's even more work to be done. ;)

Good luck with the rest of the floors!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:31AM
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Have you tried a multi-tool with a scraper blade?

You have to be careful to hold it flat, but they speed things up.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Bungalow: you're lucky that your padding had disintegrated. :-) BTW, steam works to get paint off hardwood as well, so that you can avoid the hazards of sanding potentially lead-based paint.

While I wasn't around when people started covering up hardwood floors, I suspect it was because, at the time, wood floors seemed cold and rustic, and carpet seemed modern and comfortable.

LazyG: We do have a scraper blade attachment for a sawzall. I had forgotten about that. It might be a good help peeling the kitchen vinyl off, if not all the adhesive.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:08PM
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"BTW, steam works to get paint off hardwood as well"
A heat gun is not as likely to cause warping.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Would a blow dryer also help to soften the glue? Just thinking out loud here. I'll be ripping out carpeting (alas & alack posh posh 70s shag) shortly, too.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:26PM
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brickeye - I have a heat gun! Do I have to do anything special or just heat the paint and scrape it away?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:39PM
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A blow dryer doesn't put out enough heat.

1917Bungalow: heat until it starts to bubble, then scrape. Every paint is different, so pay attention and you can learn what the best combination of heat and time is.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:27AM
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If you are going to strip a lot of woodwork, invest in a good thermostatically-controlled heat gun (not just by regulating airflow). That way you can identify the minimum temperature for each particular situation.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:15PM
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I thought I'd post a "final success" photo of my kitchen floor in this thread. It was a painful process, but the steamer ultimately did the trick. Unlike the bedrooms, it took about 6 passes along each row once I was down to the black stuff to get it all off. Whew!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 9:17PM
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Good work Weedy.

Carpeting was used to aid in insulating a cold wood floor as well. Carpeting was for the rich only until mass manufacturing made it affordable to the working class.

Vinyl was the " new amazing flooring ", as in WOW you have sheet vinyl, it looks just like marble! As when laminate came out, wow looks just like wood.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 1:48PM
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