Pulling up sub floor

lynn_r_ctJune 25, 2014

I need to pull up the particle sub floor which will be replaced by 23/32 T&G plywood. The room is about 23' X 18'. I am going nuts! I am using a short "crow bar" about 18" long and a hammer and it seems as if the pieces are coming up only about 2 inches square at a time. There must be an easier way???? I am about to drink myself silly or throw the hammer at someone. My husband is useless, he tells me to hire some one but I am looking to save money where I can.

This is a dining room, kitchen remodel, which involves moving gas, water and electrical lines, not to mention the cost of lighting, appliances and kitchen cabinets. I am sure you can understand why I am trying to do whatever I can to save a few bucks.

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Is the particle board similar to the picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_board?

If so, what you are experiencing is normal.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 5:07PM
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Don't hurt yourself by excessive drink or hurt an innocent bystander with a hammer throw. Just get some explosives. Well, that could take care of the husband problem too, but might do too much damage to parts outside of the sub floor.

Seriously now, why not just hire a day laborer or two that you can supervise? Spend a little and spare your marriage.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 5:43PM
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If you are truly using an old fashioned crowbar, do yourself a favor, get a Wonderbar or some similar type of wrecking bar, much better suited to pulling up sheet goods.
Another useful technique for this is to get a pack of cheap saw blades for a circular saw. Set blade depth equal to the thickness of the particle board, and make a series of cuts 6" or so apart across the room. The narrow strips may be easier to pull up than the full pieces. Use cheap blades because you will run through nails and staples that will ruin the blades.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 7:16PM
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Why are you removing Oriented Strand Board subfloor?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:04PM
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ditto on the wonder bar..

have you thought about the thickness change from particle board to T&G..
1/8-1/4 can make a difference at doorways..and base moulding

also try using a cat's paw to remove the nails first..then the boards..


    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:53PM
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handymac - that's it. ionized - explosives might work. I could put a claim under my homeowners and all of this would be paid for!. We have a BIG tree in front of our house and everytime we have strong winds I wish the damn thing to come down because it is right where the remodel is happening (of course I do not want anyone hurt). airqual_guy, I am using a wonder bar. Funny but when I googled it I got many hits on "Wonder bars" across the country. Maybe that is a solution There have been many moisture issues. The carpenter I used to remove a load bearing wall suggested that I remove the subfloor to replace it with T & G plywood. He is aware that I am trying to pinch pennies when I can so he has been helpful with advise. I gave him a big tip when he did the wall and I already have him lined up for some other major work so I am not expecting him to give me advise for free. dkenny - I did the nails first but the crap doesn't want to budge except in small chucks. I have considered the thickness changes because there are three rooms, a hallway, a bath and three bedrooms, each having their own existing thickness so I think I have that under control.

Bottom line, now that I have had a chance to walk away from it, and read your responses, I am going to follow ionizeds advise and bring in my "trustworthy" carpenter. Whatever he charges will actually be chump change, and while he is working I can have a drink or three and no one will get hurt!

Thanks all.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 12:06AM
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Best idea you could have!

Mobile home builders use that crap in way too many units. They even make removal worse than what you experienced, they add construction adhesive!

I once was in a position to do a lot of floor replacement in mobile homes because the owners were very low income and had been long time city/county residents. Materials were paid for and I basically did the labor for a story(they usually had lots)( and a hug(they really had lots of those).

I usually used the circular saw and cut grids---over spaces the flooring was loose---and cut away all I could---leaving those areas nailed/glued to the floor joists. Then sawed slits about 3" apart over the joists and started with my big hammer and several wide chisels.

A room the size you have would take at least a day. I worked on much smaller rooms(mainly baths and hallways.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 12:02PM
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handymac, I also need to have the subfloor changed down the hallway roughly 3 x 18 and eventually (hopefully soon) the flooring in the new kitchen. Your suggestions make sense but they still sound so time consuming. Of course in the midst of this, the garbage disposal died as well as the "whole house fan," I tend to be obsessive about things like that so I will spend hours researching the best product, not leaving much time to "cut grids". I'll just have to bring in my carpenter he-man!

You sound like a very considerate soul. Dealing with the subs I have used, I have learned, there are only two kinds.
The first are the guys who start being rude from the get go (like the one who said to me as he walked in the door... "HEY LADY, do you know how much work this involves?) I did and I ignored his quote. I know there are guys out there who are happy for the work, so to hell with him.

And then there are "the others." They call when they said they would, they show up on time (or call to let me know they are late), and they aren't trying to squeeze every dime out of me. The guy I hired instead of "Hey Lady" did a great job. He ran into some issues he didn't expect, which involved him going to the lumber yard and more labor. When the project was done I wanted him to add in the extra project and he said that wasn't necessary. I gave him a big tip, and now he is the man I will call for this job.

You definitely fall into the "others" category. How kind you are, when many are just looking for the almighty buck.

I am trying to refrain from comments about your "big hammer". Hey, if pool boys can have fun, why not subs???

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:08PM
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You never answered my question, so I'm curious as to why you would remove perfectly good OSB subfloor to install plywood. That seems like a huge waste of money to gain a 10% stiffer floor.

While your carpenter's advice may not be "bad" it certainly isn't cost effective.

Here is a link that might be useful: OSB

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 7:05PM
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Yes, are you sure your not speaking of "underlayment", especially of it is paticleboard (as opposed to OSB)?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 8:23PM
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millworkman, while indeed it is difficult for me to determine exactly which "boards" I have they appear to be the ones on the extreme left. Over the years they have deteriorated, mostly from moisture it seems because the areas are spongy. There are areas where the feet of some furniture have actually gone through that layer. There are also areas where the, what I am calling a subfloor, have buckled "up" if that makes sense - my carpenter's concern that may be caused by joists that need to be "fixed". It is like you are walking a roller coaster in some areas.

As I started to try to remove this "subfloor" with my wonderbar, the material just shredded in my hands. I can't imagine it has much "value" as a "underlayment". I haven't decided what the final flooring will be, but obviously I need a good solid subfloor - because if that fails and I have to replace the actual flooring, it would cost me a hell of a lot more then the T&G. As I mentioned, when I first discussed this with my carpenter, there was no incentive for him to recommend the change, because I had told him I was going to attempt that myself.

I appreciate everyone's advise, but I think this is one of those areas where, as ionized suggested, I need to recognize I am in over my head. Whatever it costs will be chump change in comparison to the amount of valium or booze I will consume if I continue on this project as is.

Thanks again, guys. I appreciate your weeding through my , probably ignorant, words from your trade.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 12:24AM
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Just trying to understand what your attempting to accomplish. Subfloor goes directly on the floor beams and would very rarely if ever need to be removed under normal circumstances. Particle Board as an underlayment over the subfloor and below the finished floor was used extensively in the 70's and 80's as an underlayment for carpet if my memory serves me correctly. So I believe what you are removing is technically called "underlayment" and not "subfloor". Not the end of the world but just wanting to make certain of what your removing.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 10:33AM
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The stuff she is removing is about the worst material possible for flooring. Any moisture spilled causes the material to swell/disintegrate/crumble.

And, as she has found, removing means dealing with pieces.

In my considerable experience dealing with flooring in mobile homes, that crap has to be removed. There is simply no way to deal with it once it is degraded, except removal.

It is very common in mobiles and it is also very common for people to fall through the stuff. Know of three people who had broken ankles/legs from the flooring disintegrating under their feet and they fell.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 11:57AM
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millworkman... I guess I am still not spot on with the lingo.
Directly over the joists is a layer of plywood - that I know. Over that... is what I have been calling a subfloor (obviously in error). This is the "stuff" that handymac is referring to. My house was built in the 70's as millworkman thought, and it was used as an "underlayment" for the carpet.

Carpet is gone. What is left is the "stuff" as handymac states is horrible. It is shredding as I go to remove it - largest chunks are 4" X 4" so it's unbearable to get up. There are many areas where I do feel I could fall through to the basement and other areas where it is raised up and down like a roller coaster, as I mentioned. Not being in the trade, common sense told me it needed to be removed, if for 1) to resolve any issues on the joists and 2) to be sure I have a level " layer to place my final flooring - leaning to hardwood. If I ever had to tear that up and replace it I would go way above my 3 drink limit.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 1:59PM
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lol, thanks Lynn. Just trying to be certain.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 4:37PM
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