How to remove 1930's linoleum GLUE from 1900's wood floors

lotsahousesAugust 11, 2008

Hi, We have an old commercial building, built in about 1902 or so....and during the 1930's to 1940s, in some of the upstairs offices, which we are turning into a loft and personal office space, some linoleum was laid over the lovely old buttery pine floors from the Victorian Era. We are trying to remove the linoleum glue from the wood. DOES ANYONE KNOW OF A GOOD METHOD or PRODUCT? We have heard LIME, like from mortar, is good for this... help?

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sombreuil_mongrel

Some glues are water soluble, others are a tar-like mastic.
I would use a frequently resharpened paint scraper on the latter.
Lime + water will stain pine (and other woods) a dark color, so beware if you want to eventually refinish.
Casey

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 6:21PM
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sautesmom

I have the same problem, from an old kitchen floor on douglas fir wood underneath. The old glue sticks up in chunks. I tried heat and it started smoking toxic fumes. Then I was going to use a sander attached to a shop vac, but I just recently discovered that the new floor steamer mops work GREAT! I set it right on the wood and steam on high for about 30 seconds, and the glue scrapes right off!
If it doesn't work on your glue, try the sander.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 8:20PM
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kudzu9

Before you do anything to it, like scraping, chipping, heating, or sanding, have the mastic tested by a lab for asbestos. Many of those old "glues" had significant quantities of asbestos fibers added and they will become airborne and create a significant health hazard if improperly removed.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 2:38PM
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lotsahouses

THANKS to all for your replies, that's a great help. The glue is a black tar-like substance, as mentioned by someone above... The floor steamer (do you mean like a Bissell steam cleaner that you put water in the attached tub? I have one of those upright Bissells. Is there another type of 'steamer mop' that you mean?) sounds GREAT to me....but I had not thought about asbestos. Hmmm.

The other thing is, we are REMOVING SOME OF THE PLASTER from the INNER BRICK WALLS. I realize when our building was built, the brick wasn't meant to be exposed, but it just looks so cool, as we all know. We want to take it off in places, then 'feather' the existing plaster over to the brick areas and smooth the places where it meets. We are using a MORTAR HARDENER on the brick, as the mortar itself in many places has turned to sand.

ANYBODY WITH ANY TIPS ON HOW TO DO THIS? Harden old mortar/chip off old plaster/feather the edges?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 5:50PM
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nskylark

We had the same problem during our kitchen remodal, and had a bunch of wood floor guys in to look at it...ultimatley we went with a guy who just sanded the heck out of it. He had a very low grit sandpaper that he used to get all the black off. The good thing about old wood floors is that you don't have to worry about sanding through any wear layer since it is solid wood. Although after you take the tar off the floors may not be in perfect condition. Ours had a black "shadow" at every joist line. Floor guy said that the heat builds up were the floor joists met the wood floor and permanently stained the wood. But a darker color stain took care fo the problem.

Here are some before/during and after pics for you...
You can see the black underneath the tile.

After sanding the heck out of it:

After:

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 1:54PM
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Franklyn_fastmail_us

I have been refinishing wood floors for over 35 years now. Sanding to me is the most efficient method providing you use the right sander and sandpaper. View the article I did about this with pictures which is linked to below.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to remove glue from an old fir floor

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:39PM
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brickeyee

Before removing old mastic have it tested for asbestos.

Sanding it off is one way that WILL release the asbestos fibers if they are present.

I have yet to see a HEPA rated floor sander.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:14AM
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worthy

Sand away! It'll be 25-50 years before the mesothelioma, asbestosis or lung cancer shows up.


Your Lung on Asbestos. (But you should see those beautiful floors!)
Source: http://mesotheliomaz.info

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 1:03PM
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DavidR

Warning - I have not tried this! But I remember reading years ago about a way to remove recalcitrant floor tiles - spread dry ice all over the floor. Supposedly it hardens the glue and shrinks the tiles, so they literally pop loose.

If I had your situation, I might try dry ice on a small area, to see if it would have the same effect on just the cement.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:01AM
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ideagirl2

we went with a guy who just sanded the heck out of it. He had a very low grit sandpaper that he used to get all the black off. The good thing about old wood floors is that you don't have to worry about sanding through any wear layer since it is solid wood.

Right! All you have to worry about is mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers! It'll take 30 years or so to show up, so if you have little kids, you know they should at least get through college and start living productive lives before they get taken out by lung cancer. Kind of like this guy, rock bassist Gerard Smith, who just died of lung cancer at the age of 36 (or 34, some news reports say; mid-thirties, anyway)...

Here is a link that might be useful: Musician dies of lung cancer age 36

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:55PM
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slateberry51

we had to get a tile adhesive similar to yours off a floor. we tried 3 things: the super-duper toxic stripper (can't remember brand, but it was probably full of methylene chloride or toluene or something great like that), the "safer" stripper, and 100% orange oil. I thought: the toxic stuff will work the best, the safer stripper less so, and the non-toxic orange oil will work poorly or not at all.

The orange oil did the best job! couldn't believe it. But if you use it, be aware of combustion issues with the rags. you don't want to pile them up. Spread them out outside to evaporate so you don't burn your building down.

plus it smells great and is fine for wood. Just let it evaporate before you go to the next finishing step.

Here is a link that might be useful: the orange oil I used

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:06AM
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slateberry51

Just realized OP asked question in 2008. I gotta drink more coffee before I post to threads--d'ope!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 8:11AM
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aliciaandbilly

We just removed linoleum from our douglas fir hardwood floors in the kitchen by using a wallpaper steamer. Worked like a charm! Just score the hard top layer of linoleum to pull it off in strips, then score and steam the felt paper, glue, tar paper, and more glue. It was a lot of hard work, but seemed to minimize damage to the floors and the amount of sanding required.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 10:01AM
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concretenprimroses

I'm glad that you didn't notice the age of the thread Slateberry. I'm glad to have it revived and to hear about the orange oil. We have a asbestos tile removal in our future. Ours looks a lot like the tile posted earlier in this thread, and we know its got asbestos because dh found an original tile box in the cellar. The wall paper striper sounds like it worked great too. Not sure if its appropriate in my case with the asbestos.
Kathy

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 5:21PM
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inox

This is not a product endorsement, just an interesting hit from searching at Google for:

HEPA floor sander

Here is a link that might be useful: DustPro⢠600 HEPA Industrial Vacuum

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:09PM
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brickeyee

That is a vacuum, not a floor sander.

You are never going to gather enough of the sawdust from sanding to meet HEPA standards.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 6:52PM
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trouts2

sombreuil_mongrel,
Your above post was like a revelation from God. For years I�ve been agonizing about what to do with and old kitchen floor that had linoleum with a toweled on adhesive. Various solvents would not work and it never occurred to me to try water.

I gave up and put a rug over the floor but that make a height problem at the doors. For years I�ve avoided what I considered would be a major hassle.

The crud comes up fairly easily with water and rubbing. A lot of the black backing paper sticks to the floor but with more water and scraping loosens and comes off. Under it all is a decent solid hardwood floor that should be fairly easy to get into good shape. I�m thrilled that this will all work out. Thanks for the post.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:00AM
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sombreuil_mongrel

"Your above post was like a revelation from God."
You are welcome, my child.

LOL
Casey

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 8:11AM
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cmcdar

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

I know it is years after the OP, but I wanted to say thank you to especially to sautesmom for the suggestion of using steam. It saved us hours of work and maybe even a marriage ;-)

We went to Home Depot and bought a Wagner Wallpaper Steamer - it worked like a charm.

This post was edited by cmcdar on Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 7:33

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 7:30AM
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cmcdar

We were leaving some glue on the wood floors but the black paper was coming right up.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 7:34AM
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Snoozin57

That looks like exactly what I am dealing with! House dates 1920 and the linoleum is over wood floors in the kitchen. Is it conceivable that was put down in the 30's or 40's???

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:59AM
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lazy_gardens

the mortar itself in many places has turned to sand.

that needs to be dug out and replaced with good mortar so your walls don't fall down. it's called "repointing"

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 3:02PM
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airqual_guy

I feel compelled to warn anyone reading this thread to be very careful if you're tempted to try the dry ice idea.

Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, and does not have to asphyxiate to be dangerous. Breathing elevated levels for an extended period is dangerous. Work only in a well ventilated area, and beware of signs of drowsiness.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 11:02PM
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cookingofjoy

From nyskylark's post above:
Ours had a black "shadow" at every joist line. Floor guy said that the heat builds up were the floor joists met the wood floor and permanently stained the wood. But a darker color stain took care fo the problem.

Has anyone else had this problem? Or found a solution to it?

I think we have something similar on our stair treads. The lines didn't show until I started sanding.

Here is a link that might be useful: stripes on treads

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 7:18PM
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emoree

Oh god these pictures are bringing back nightmares from when we first got our house!! Kill me now!!! Never again, ugh!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:33PM
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