In last week's Renovation Realities post I mentioned how the fact that our dishwasher leaked and made a huge mess while we're living here turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I'd much rather us be able to tackle the mess instead of hiring out the work while renters are here. Well another perk of having all that water flood into the floor is that it made it fairly easy to peel up a layer of laminate, 2 layers of linoleum, a plywood subfloor and a layer of tar paper. For the most part we were able to scrape up the mess with putty knives. What took more time than scraping up the mess was pulling up the staples in the floor as we went along. One corner of the kitchen didn't get soaked through though, and trying to scrape up that tar paper without scraping up the floor was turning out to be extremely tedious and time consuming. It just would not scrape up.
As a reminder, here's what our floor looked like with the laminate before we tore into it.
And this is the floor after we pulled up the laminate, linoleum, and plywood. Nasty huh? I can't even tell you how bad this stuff smelled! The lighter grey patch in the corner of the middle picture is the part that didn't get soaked with water.
What We Tried First:
We of course tried scraping it up dry with our putty knives, but with really no success.
We than tried pouring hot water onto it in small sections, but that didn't really work either.
We also tried laying water soaked towels on top of it. Kinda worked, but not really.
So, I sat down and watched a bunch of youtube videos and read some articles. A lot of people were suggesting paint thinner and turpentine solutions to pour onto it, but I didn't really want to go that route, mainly because there were a lot of mixed reviews on how well it worked and I wanted to avoid the chemicals if I could.
I watched several videos of people using a wallpaper steamer and we decided to try that route. It was still time consuming but much faster than anything else we had tried, and we didn't have to use any harsh chemicals. I'd say the steamer actually worked better on the floors than it did for removing the wallpaper in our kitchen. More on that coming in Thursdays post!
We ended up buying this steamer from Lowe's for about $55.00. You can rent them from Home Depot, but we knew we'd be renting it again to pull up the floor in the bathroom and possibly laundry room and finishing the floor in the kitchen was going to take more than four hours, so it was more cost efficient to just go ahead and purchase it.
What You'll Need:
- Wallpaper steamer
- Putty knife (not pictured). We used smaller ones because the bigger ones didn't scrape as well because of the size of the wood boards.
- Rubber gloves (Kendall didn't use these because he's a man like that, but they helped me work faster and kept the gunk off my hands which made cleaning up easier)
- Bucket of hot water
- Stainless steel scouring pad
- Old towels (These are going to get super nasty so be sure you're using towels you don't mind getting rid of.)
- Knee pads or something padded for your knees. Your knees will thank you! (I used a folded up towel)
How We Did It:
- Fill the steamer with water and plug it in to heat up. You'll know it's ready when you hear the water bubbling and water will start to leak from the plastic plate at the end of the hose.
- To start with, we set the steamer on a spot on the floor for at least a minute to a minute and a half. You don't have to time this but you need at least a minute for it to start loosening the tar paper
- After a minute, move the steamer to the next spot and start scraping being careful not to scratch your floor. Once you've scraped what you can, you will probably need to put your steamer back over the spot to loosen more of the paper and residue and scrape some more.
- Once you've scraped the majority of the paper and residue up, dunk your wire scrubber into the bucket of hot water and scrub up the remaining residue.
- Use a towel to dry up the remaining moisture and residue.
It won't hurt you're floor to let the steamer sit in a spot longer than a minute while you scrape and scrub. Continue moving your steamer back and forth between sections on the floor while you scrape and scrub. You'll find a rhythm and system that works for you. I think Kendall and I both did it a little bit differently but with the same results.
After the water would run out of the steamer, we would unplug it and give it a rest because the instructions said that you should after about 75 minutes which is about how long it takes for the water to run out. Your knees are going to need a break as well, so go ahead and go grab a nap or snack or tackle one of your other projects or reward yourself and watch an episode of whatever show you're currently binging on Netflix.
- Stand back and admire your hard, sweaty work!
Hopefully we'll be refinishing the floors in the next couple of months and I can't wait to see how these turn out.
Tip to Help the Time Pass:
PODCASTS!!! Seriously, this actually made the job fun for me because I got to listen and catch up on some of my favorite ones to listen to. You can see which design podcasts I love to listen to here and I also love The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and Front Porch with the Fitzes will make you laugh out loud for reals.
What podcasts do you love to listen to while you work?
Also, any other tips you might have for fellow readers on how to get tar paper off the floor that I didn't hit on?