Removing linoleum from unfinished hardwood?

msbattJuly 18, 2009

Is there a solvent that will loosen old, glued-down lino but not damage the hardwood? It doesn't appear to have ever been varnished.

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I don't know the answer to your question. However, when I removed my linoleum from my original unfinished pine floor in my kitchen, I simply eased a pry bar under it and pulled it up. There was some black-ish residue left behind, but the floor guy just sanded right through it when the floors were finished. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:03AM
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How old is this flooring material? Older linoleum / seamless flooring material frequently had asbestos in it and sometimes the adhesive had it too. You do not want to be scraping, ripping, and sanding this material before you have a small sample of it tested at a lab. Contact your local health agency or the State environmental agency for more info.

Here is a link that might be useful: Asbestos in flooring

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:24PM
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I can't tell you the name of the solvent I used because it's been too long, but it was some basic thing from Home Depot, nothing special. It worked fairly well. Some areas I could lift up with just a tiny bit of scraping but others needed the solvent then sanding. The floor is long leaf pine and had never been finished. It didn't damage it.

Probably adhere to the warning about asbestos. We didn't know of it and didn't think of it, so didn't worry about it....what's done is done ;) (We also were not living in the house at the time)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 10:15PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

I can't tell you the name of the solvent I used because it's been too long, but it was some basic thing from Home Depot, nothing special.

Could have been this,it will work but you will need a respirator

Here is a link that might be useful: goof off

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 5:40AM
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No, that wasn't it.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 10:59AM
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In my research on different DIY projects for my home, I have read on many homeowner blogs that people have used the Silent Paint Remover (SPR) on old linoleum adhesive with a lot of success.

I have not tried it myself, but if you research on Silent Paint Remover you will find the information. It's not an inexpensive tool, but a lot of DIYers swear by it.

I will be facing this project myself next year, so please post back any tips/tricks that you have found successful.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 2:30PM
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I don't have any advice except to say that I am doing the exact same thing right now. With a floor scraper and elbow grease. I keep looking for some magic solvent, but I haven't found it yet. I'll try to find the Silent Paint Remover.

My wood is untreated too...why did they do this? Was this some sort of great idea back in the day? Putting in nice wood and then slathering it with tar and lino?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 1:51PM
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Circus Peanut

I did this. Erk. But it's SOOO worth it!

My remodel energy was very fresh at that point and I was spending money like water: bought the Silent Paint Remover for $399. At least I was able to sell it later for almost that much on eBay (might be a source for you?).

To avoid the toxicity of chemicals, the trick is to heat the tarry stuff up so it's just gooey enough to scrape off. This way you are also not making any asbestos content friable (ie turning it it to dust to breathe in); that said, of course you have to take all sensible precautions.

But depending on how much floor you have, another cheaper heat source like infrared heater (space heater) or a good old hair dryer might be just as effective. Try it with a hair dryer and see how well it works for you. (Remember your face mask!)

I suppose that back then, any man-made material was "modern" and cutting edge. Lino was definitely seen as the best possible hygienic surface. Pine and fir floors were the poor man's floor, so it probably didn't cost much more to just floor the whole place with it rather than switch to another subflooring for the kitchen. Maybe?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 2:36PM
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Whe we moved into our 6 year old house in 1991, we wanted to change the kitchen vinyl floor. We were told that asbestos was being fazed out of vinyl just when our house was built. Therefore, because our floor might contain asbestos, no one would touch it. We decided to install new vinyl on top of the old. You don't want to mess with asbestos. Find out if you have it, and if you do, have it removed professionally or leave it alone. It's not a hazard if it's kept under wraps. But if it becomes airborne, which will definitely happen if you remove it, it's a serious health hazard.

Mesothelioma is a rotten lung disease. It will sneak up on you years or even decades after asbestos exposure.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 7:49PM
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I'm having good luck with Goo-Gone.... its not perfect, but its loosening the nasty stuff. I've also been using a clothing steamer, which helps.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 8:58PM
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Okay. I gave up, and called in the pros... They used a professional floor scraper (basically, a large razor blade on a long stick) to get the lino up, and then used a giant sander with 24 grit sandpaper to get the tar up. They also told me that it is NOT asbestos - just plain old tar.

After 8 months of me and my neighbor and his friends scraping, scraping, scraping... it took the pros about two hours.

It looks AMAZING. I am thrilled. Its only just been sanded - I'm waiting on the matching heart pine I ordered to patch it, and then they'll put the finish on it. It's costing me $1200 for scraping, sanding, and finishing, plus an extra $400 for the patch work (including ripping the 5" boards down to fit in my 3 1/4" floor). The heart pine boards to patch? $38 a box, times two boxes. And to tell you the truth? Totally worth it. And it should be done after three days of work. Three days!

I have been up all night every night in the last week stressing about the darn floor - the idiots my neighbor got to work on it (supposedly pros) damaged it, and I was sure it was just ruined. Now I can finally get some sleep. That right there is worth the money.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 10:26PM
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I do not blame you one bit!!!

With old houses, you have to pick your DIY battles and decide what you will pay the pros to do!

Congrats on the new floor!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 12:37PM
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Our local tool rental shop carries the necessary equipment: a hand floor scraper and hydraulic and other mechanical floor strippers. We did ours by hand too, my husband spent a few days on his butt with scraper and a heat gun, and the rental shop announced that they had these tools a few days later!

We are pretty sure the fir floor had been finished previous to the lino being laid down, but it was no easier for all that. Get the tool!


Here is a link that might be useful: Floor tools listing

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 1:02AM
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When I took the 1970s vinyl flooring off of my unfinished Douglas Fir floors in the kitchen last year, it left chunks of old glue everywhere, too. I actually own a Silent Paint Remover, and NO it is NOT the way you want to go! Once the chunks start smoking, they release nasty-smelling, and I presume toxic, gases--so scratch that idea!
But I did find that my floor steamer works GREAT and it is absolutely non-toxic. Using steam to soften up the chunks, I then used a metal drywall spatula to scrape it off the wood. There is a small film left, but it comes off easily when you sand the floors.
I didn't want to JUST sand them, because in another part of my house, the floors were painted with some sort of shellac, which when sanded/heated turns into a plastic-y goo that quickly hardens and coats the sandpaper, making it useless. At $15 per sheet, turning useless in 30 seconds got expensive quickly, and I had to hand-remove the shellac before I could sand.
So steam gets a thumbs-up in my book!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 2:11PM
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