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Flooring and Carpeting/Restoring old wood floor


I haven't seen anything on my particular issue.  I have an almost 100 year old house.  I realize now I should have considered asbestos as a potential issue, but that ship has sailed, as I took out linoleum that looked like it was from the 50's out of my sunroom.  Underneath is a grey, cardboard-like substance I believe to be leveling compound.  It comes off in big strips when I attempt to peel it off.  Underneath that is 3" floor boards.  My goal is to remove the grey gunk and sand the floor to prepare it for staining and sealing.  I'm planning on using oil-based stain (I don't like the results of gel stains.) and spar varnish, as there is a lot of traffic from the back door in that room (rain, snow, you get the picture).  From things I've read, perhaps I should start by wetting the floor, then using a scraper to get the grey stuff off?

Hi Judy,

Typically the grey substance is a cardboard felt backing attached to the vinyl. But if it appears to be cement like it probably is a floor patch.

I doubt you exposed yourself to any asbestos unless you sanded the material. And even then the amount would be negligible unless it was copious amounts and hundreds of square feet. I have removed far more with no consequences. Just don't sand the vinyl or felt backing. The good news is you are not dealing with the black sticky tar residue of other older products which contain possibly more asbestos.

OK, so moving on ....the wood floor needs to be free from marring unless you are aiming for the distressed look. Applying water and scrapping is a true known method and I encourage that route. However the scrapper blade / tools can dig into the wood and care must be used to do as little damage as possible so that the sanding process is able to remove the minor damage you create as well as the old present damage.

Of course the wood floor will need to dry out for a week or more as well after applying any water.

If you can remove without water all the better...! Minor damp towels and sponges might just be all it takes.


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20+ years flooring installation ...carpet,wood,tile and vinyl. Residential and commercial. I do not sell the products , just install what ever the shop / customer has purchased. I actually love seeing the finished project completed and it gives me great satisfaction to help others acheive that goal. If I don't know the answer I will say so, and then I will recommend another expert for you. I may even research the subject and answer to the best of my ability ...including links to my sources. I wish you all success Chris


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