My recent post showing our kitchen really got me thinking; I needed to start renovating this room! The flooring is so ugly. So two weeks ago, I began the task of ripping up the vinyl floorcovering and the underlayment. I started on an area 3' x 5'. I started pulling up the peel-and-stick vinyl tiles first. They came up easily, but left an extremely sticky film on the particleboard underlayment beneath. The particleboard was nailed to the floor below, so I then began breaking it off in pieces, getting as many nails out as I could, and countersinking the nails that broke during the process.
What I found below was a beautiful oak floor! Well, not exactly beautiful. In a couple tiny spots underneath the toe kick near the counter, I found beautiful varnished oak flooring.
The rest of the floor had a thick layer of old, whitened adhesive stuck all over it. I've read that in Victorian houses, hardwood flooring was used in the public rooms, not in kitchens and second story rooms. I am very fortunate to have original oak flooring in my kitchen! Why anyone would ever coat beautiful hardwood floors with adhesive and cover them with ugly linoleum or vinyl flooring is beyond my comprehension. I believe the adhesive on my floors was from a previous flooring installation, before the particleboard and peel-and-stick vinyl.
My next problem was how to remove this old adhesive. I scoured the internet, looking for ways other people have found to remove old flooring adhesive. I tried mineral spirits... nothing. Then I tried Goo Gone, which I love to use for removing sticky price tags... still nothing.
Then I came across a forum where an architect from Milwaukee had used a steamer to soften his flooring adhesive, then scraped it away. I went out and bought a wallpaper steamer and gave it a try. It really does work! It still requires a lot of elbow grease, and there's still a layer of stubborn adhesive scum on the floors. Also, kneeling for long periods of time is not working well for my old arthritic knees! So I've been trying to keep the work to 1 hour increments. When I first started the scraping process, my right thumb became numb and stayed that way for 2 days. But I've always been a proud do-it-yourselfer, so I'm sticking to my guns and getting this project done even if it kills me!
At this rate, it will take no less than 3 months to remove all the floorcovering and scrape the oak floors. I've only worked on it a few weeknights, and mostly only a few hours on the weekends, but I think I will love the end results.
I had thought of renting a floor sander, but I'd like to remove as much adhesive as I can by hand first, since I read adhesive gums up sanders like crazy. The friction melts it enough to clog the sanding pads. I may try a safe soy-based paint remover to see if that does any good on the remaining adhesive. I'd like to keep the integrity of the oak flooring as much as possible, as sanding always removes some wood, and the patina as well.
There's no turning back now. The floor project will move at a snail's pace, but I will get it done! And I am so thrilled that I found the original oak flooring underneath. I'll keep you posted on my progress!