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Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

Posted by weedyacres (My Page) on
Sun, May 5, 13 at 20:07

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.
 photo 101_2334_zpsdeb0a30d.jpg

I scraped off the cushy part of the pad, and used the steamer on the residue.
 photo 101_2511_zpsc300e733.jpg

And here's the after. Still has some film in a few areas, but it should sand out fine.
 photo 101_2554_zps94a00962.jpg

Back bedroom before, with some sort of trowelled-on adhesive.
 photo 101_2333_zps8c260671.jpg

And after (not quite done).
 photo 101_2555_zps8cde80af.jpg

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:
 photo 101_2323_zpsd768e1d8.jpg

And here's after a bit of work with the steamer.
 photo 101_2515_zpsdf59f545.jpg


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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!


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

Have you tried a multi-tool with a scraper blade?

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


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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.


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

"BTW, steam works to get paint off hardwood as well"
A heat gun is not as likely to cause warping.


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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.


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

brickeye - I have a heat gun! Do I have to do anything special or just heat the paint and scrape it away?


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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.


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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.


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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!
 photo 101_2786_zps1f0d8bee.jpg


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RE: Steam really works to remove adhesive from hardwood!

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.


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