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Removing Vintage Flooring Adheasive

My home is 100-years old this year and I'm in the process of removing vintage floor coverings from one of the bedrooms. Under the grungy carpet I found what seems to be some sort of early version of vinyl flooring. It has a smooth multi-colored surface but looks like it was made with materials similar to tar paper. Over 90-percent of the material came up easily as it was simply layed over the original fir flooring. Unfortunately it was glued down with some kind of adheasive along the seams. I've tried sanding the adheasive off the floor, but it quickly clogs up my belt sander belts, even if I use a very course grit. I'm worried about using chemical removers because I plan to paint the floor in the next week or two. So far the best way I've found to remove the stuff is using sharpened putty knife to sc**** it off the wood. This method is pretty slow and I occasionally gouge the wood (thankfully the distressed look is in). Does anyone know of an easier method for removing this adhesive?

Re: Removing Vintage Flooring Adheasive

if its very similar to vc tile it could very easily be asbestos tiles. they were used quite readily before the 1980's. though they do contain asbestos they dont create as much a health hazard as plaster containing asbestos because less of it will become air borne

as for teh underlayment, if it looks like white felt paper its also asbestos. if you decide to take it up yourself be sure to seal the room via taping off the door jamb to lessen to risk of contaminating the rest of the house, also open any windows in the room and set up a fan blowing outwards, wear a respirator and wet down the asbestos paper before disturbing it. wetting it weighs down the loose particles so they wont become air born nearly as easy

Re: Removing Vintage Flooring Adheasive


This may sound like a supremely dumb question, but have you tried using ordinary water on that adhesive? If that old flooring seems like a primitive sheet vinyl, they may have used a water based paste on the theory that the flooring will protect the paste from getting wet and re-emulsifying.

If water doesn't work, try various solvents to see what dissolves the adhesive. Lacquer thinner is a good solvent to try first because it's a mixture of several solvents, the most prevalent being toluene at over 60%. If lacquer thinner works, it's likely that xylene will too, but xylene is much slower to evaporate.

Basically, paint your old adhesive with whatever solvent you find dissolves it. Then, cover the wet adhesive with wax paper so that the solvent doesn't evaporate. Weigh down the edges of the wax paper with something like a chain or sticks, and allow plenty of time for the solvent to soften the adhesive. Then, pull back the wax paper slowly, removing the softened adhesive with a putty knife as you go.

Obviously, when working with any flammable solvent, provide plenty of ventilation in the room you're working in. Also, don't use your vaccuum cleaner or any electrical tools in that room until the fumes have been cleared. That's because vaccuum cleaners (and other equipment with electric motors in them) will blow air over the motor to help keep the motor cool, and any sparks from the brushes of the motor could ignite those fumes.

Re: Removing Vintage Flooring Adheasive

Yeah, try to use water first. However, if it is caked on and old adhesive that will just get wet, try to apply heat. Be careful though, you don't want to damage any flooring, so I would just recommend using a controlled blow dryer to soften the adhesive. Should be easy to take off after that.

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