random musings

May 26, 2010

An oldie but a goodie

So this was actually my first second third real project in the house. At the time I just took pics for Mom and my memory. Sorry for the poor lighting. My photog skilz are mad limited [okay, I'll stop ...], and this room doesn't have any windows nearby, plus, knowing me it was after 10p.

This tiny powder room on the main floor had those ugly peel 'em stick 'em tiles that did not match the rest of the house. And when I say did not match I mean to the left beige diamonds, to the right green boxed. See for yourself:

I guess the with the midwest humidity and all the tiles had shrunk a little and turned all brittle. Gaps between tiles, corners breaking off, all matter of krud getting in there. No matter how much I scrubbed, it looked dirty. [the beige "background" probably didn't help either.]

Since the corners were already coming up, I figured "no prob" this will be a snap. Man was I wrong. First, the tiles were still firmly adhered in the middle. Second the whole floor was covered in adhesive. If you've ever had to remove adhesive tile before, well, it's certainly one of the circles of hell.

My Technique:
  1. Safety implements: glasses, chemical resistant gloves, mask or lots of breathing breaks.
  2. use a [metal] paint scraper or 5-in-1 tool to get as much of the tile up as possible. If you will be re-coating the floor with carpet tile, or laminate you can be less careful about gouging the subfloor. I was planing on refinishing the wood underneath, so me? anal. retentive.
  3. Use that paint scraper to, well, scrape off the thickest part of the goo. This is also a good time to examine the condition of the floor. When I moved in, I was told the toilet had leakage problems, which would have necessitated more invasive procedures. Luckily, everything was nice and sound. 
  4. Get out the hair dryer. If you are fortunate to own a heat gun, that will work too. I don't own a heat gun, so I just used my hair dryer [the $7 walmart one]. The nice thing is that I didn't worry about burning, or singing or setting fire to anything. 
  5. Methodically work your way across the space, using the hairdryer to soften the glue, and the scraper to remove softened gunk. This is boring and tedious. You will ask yourself why? why? And you will think that the glue is all gone only to find more.
  6. After the previous step, there should still be a haze of glue there. As in, it doesn't scape up but you can feel it with your bare hands. Okay, on to the heavy-duty chemicals. I chose mineral spirits.  With a dampened paper towel, start scrubbing. The mineral spirits will dissolve remaining adhesive. I found it worked best to dampen the area with spirits first and let it sit before commencing the big scrub.
After all the gunk was off my beautiful floors, I discover that the plywood underneath was better than anything I can buy at big blue. I couldn't cover it with cheap laminate! So, after much scrubbing and sanding, etc, ta-da!

I'm linking to Hookin' Up 5/27


  1. WOW! That's subflooring? What di you you do about the nails?

  2. @Tru - absolutely nothing. The nailheads were already flush with the wood surface, and with the layers of stain, it looks like an imperfection in the wood. I have a new-to-me-but-older-than-me home, and I wanted it to look well cared for but not necessarily brand spanking new.