Flooring and Carpeting/Flooring woes


QUESTION: My husband and I are currently in the middle of redoing our kitchen floors. When we bought the house, the ceramic tiles that were in there were uneven. We always figured we could fix them later. When we pulled up the tiles a couple of days ago (and I kid you not, we lifted over 80 tiles with just our bare hands), it turned out the previous owners had glued the tiles straight onto the the subfloor and did a POOR job at it. My husband I were shocked and disappointed. We're both teachers and it would cost WAY too much for us to replace all that subfloor, cabinets, and so on.
So we've been trying to sand the floor down as much as possible. The tile adhesive has been difficult to get off by scraping and it has just created more dings and patch jobs then actually getting anything up.
Our plan is to use a floating vinyl floor since we've heard that it can be better for a floor with imperfections (http://www.homedepot.com/p/TrafficMaster-Allure-12-in-x-36-in-Red-Rock-Resilient). I am concerned about doing something wrong with the underlayment and it creates bowing or bumps. We've gotten several suggestions from glue/nailing lauan to screwing in plywood to the tile adhesivey subfloor. We're a little bit over our heads and neither of us are very handy. Do you have any suggestions for us (that don't involve a complete over haul of my kitchen?)

ANSWER: Karissa,

Well tell me about the adhesive?? is it white ceramic tile adhesive? Applied with a trowel??

Or is it something else ...tan in color applied with a caulking gun, Indicated by beads of glue in random lines just squirted on/ down on the floor.

What is your subfloor ...patches and dings sound like wood to me. Yikes , always harder to work and fix a wood floor. Not impossible, just have to fill the dings and dents that you make as well.

I will say this now,  The vinyl plank flooring requires the most tedious and perfect floor prep of all the products out there. Floating floors will offer some forgiveness. But you want the sub floor to be smooth as a baby's bottom and flat too....not level ...just flat.

How to acheive this is easier said than done. But I learned and so can you. Today with the advent of YOU TUBE and other internet sites you can learn anything in minutes.

Product choices are narrowed down here
PLANI PATCH (not a leveler) manually applied with trowel floor patch. ONE OF MY FAVORITE products
Another if you can find it
And finally HOME Depot sells HENRY's

Regardless of which brand you purchase, here is a PDF describing the installation / mixing / drying times / coverage etc. 1 bag will skim coat 600-700 sq ft...an average kitchen 3x over.
That means plenty of room for error and fixes.

Get a couple of mixing buckets (5 gallon) a trowel and a 6" drywall knife, 1/2" drill and mixing paddle / whip / beater. a sponge or 2 for cleaning and rinsing, and a smooth cloth for repairing /removing ridges in the floor as it dries. A fan will help the drying process.

See the video , and ask me any questions you might have via the follow up.
Mix small batches until you get used to it.
Use a 6" drywall knife under cabinet toe kicks and other walls to CUT IN...then skim the floor immediately, working in a comfortable direction. Make sure you have an escape plan....lol typically a door or just do the floor 1/2 and 1/2 and blend the edges.

Use a fan too speed up drying time if you like. Use a damp sponge or soft towel to smooth any minor ridges after dry to touch. If you have large globs allow to dry and use the edge of the drywall knife to scrape off ...minor divots and dings can be filled on a 2nd coat.

Final 3rd coat can be almost soup and a give a mirror finish.

You as a teacher can do this for about 50-60 bucks ...maybe less. Buy tools at HARBOR FREIGHT for less


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yes it looks like white tile adhesive that was put on with a trowel. The subfloor looks like particle board. Will that make a difference with the floor patch? The HENRY's product that Home Depot has looks like it will work. Should I let it dry for a day before we put the floating floor on top? Will we also need the moisture barrier underlayment roll under the floor? I already feel much better but I really want to make sure that I'm doing it correctly.

Hi Karissa, Hope you had a nice Holiday 4th and week end

If the white adhesive is slightly rubbery it is a latex based acrylic tile adhesive made for walls ...not floors.

If the adhesive is dry /hard /and sandy, gritty when pulverized it is a mortar based cement. Made for floors.

The first can be scraped off with a razor scraper , add some water to emulsify and soften.
The second can not be softened with water ...but can keep dust down while scraping off.
Use a hand held 4" razor scraper...not the stand up type.
Typically known as a wallpaper scraper but made stronger and with better materials found in the flooring section
See the Crain line of tools http://www.tools4flooring.com/floor-scrapers.html
The famous red scraper for 12.51(#350) also comes in a longer version. I also employ the Orcon #13218 in many cases. Knee pads and determination and extra blades are a must.

Once the floor is free of any large particles you can skim over with the patch to fill any dings ....smooth any irregularities.

I suppose you could waive the moisture barrier ...the moisture barrier is made for concrete or below grade applications.

You may allow the patch to dry as long as you like...a few hours is fine, a day is acceptable if you are running short of time. You can even leave it alone for a week , until the next week end when you can start work again. But you will want to sweep and clean / vacuum first before installing the floor.

Put your mind at ease , these key steps make a floor beautiful...just like a good paint job, it's all about the prep.

Make the sub floor smooth / clean / flat. install the underlayment then the flooring.

To save you some grief , only install as much or slightly more underlayment than the flooring  immediately being installed.

In other words don't install all the underlayment and be forced to walk all over it and distort it. Only 1 or 2 widths of underlayment at a time ...lay the floor and install more underlayment. Use tape to join the seams...duct tape. Run the underlayment up the walls about 2" to help prevent shifting...in the length only (left and right)

OK , I could go on , but I will stop for now..


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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


20 years as an independant contractor

H.S. diploma A.S. agriculture Mt San Antonio JR. College

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Gene Bonas and Kevin Churnock Inc. Sheward&Son&Sons Century 21 Forte Const. Famous Footwear BOSE Corporation Homebodies General Contractor Perry Floors, Tri Cord Flooring T.J.'S Supplies

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