Funny you should ask...
You may recall my posts about being a DIY Wannabe HERE.
After 5+ years in this house, laboring time and again over how to do the kitchen and what we should do with the floors....we have FINALLY found out WHAT is on the hardwoods (trapped beneath 3 different layers of flooring) and HOW to get it off! Thank you Google and my Father-in-Law.
That black stuff..in thess pictures here:
That, my friends, is tar paper that came off of the hideous vinyl flooring the previous owners put down.
I can't for the life of me understand what would posess someone to cover up these gorgeous hardwoods with linoleum...not ONCE BUT THREE times! And let's not get crazy or anything and REMOVE THE OLD FLOORING BEFORE PUTTING NEW FLOORING DOWN. Crimany.
My Father-in-Law is the genius who finally solved the mystery for me of how to get this gunk off.
We'd tried everything-every chemical you can imagine. Some toxic, some organic. Nothing.
We rented a commercial sander. The gunk kept gumming up the belt.
It was beyond frustrating.
So we bought some laminate flooring and covered it up. Without glue, I might add. It didn't look too bad...if you didn't look closely. ;-)
Fast forward about 2 years to this past week when I came across an article in The Old House Magazine. A woman redid her kitchen and talked baout the black tar paper she had to steam and scrape off her hardwood floor.
The light bulb went on!
I re-read the paragraph. Yes! That's what we had too. A wall paper steamer? I'd never even thought of that.
I talked with my FIL about it and he told me his secret to removing wallpaper easily is to heat up water to as hot as he can possibly stand it, pour it into a water bottle and squirt the wallpaper until it's saturated. Then he waits 5-10 minutes before using a putty knife to scrape the paper off. It peels right off, he said.
Sure. I had high hopes, but realistic expectations.
I went home and looked at our kitchen floor (which at that point had peel and stick tiles on it since our orginal foray into flooring with the laminate didn't pan out so well.) The tiles were, (understandably) starting to lift since the adhesive on the tile had nothing but 40+ year old tar paper to stick to. It was catching my toes as I walked across the floor, so it was clearly time to fiugure this out.
I lifted one tile that was already loose and looked at the nasty black goop underneath.
I figured I had nothing to lose since it was coming up on its own anyway... What's the worst that could happen?
How many ill fated adventures began with that reasoning?
I heated up 2 cups of water for 2 minutes in the microwave and poured it into a plastic squirt bottle (Note to self: wear gloves when pouring boiling water into a squirt bottle.)
I squirted the crap out of that black square. And then waited for about 5 minutes.
While I wouldn't say it "peeled right off" it DID come up after scraping for a few minutes.
It was amazing. I was giddy with excitement! I snapped pic after pic and texted them to Joe with commentary. He was excited too. (Probably mostly that I was doing the work!)
It was like pulling a string on a sweater...what started out as 1 tile quickly turned into 25+.
Here's where I am today:
For years Joe & I have bemoaned how tiny our kitchen is. Today, I'm so thankful that it's small I could cry. It's about 100 square feet. That's small when you're hosting Thanksgiving but H U G E when you're scraping every square inch of it with a putty knife.
See that welcome mat? I call it the magic carpet. It's where we rest our weary knees and rumps while we scrape away.
At this point, we're a little less than half way done.
We have big plans this weekend with another commercial sander.
I see stain and poly in our future!
Those hardwoods will be beautiful and gleaming before we know it!
I haven't suggested this to Joe yet, but I'm thinking of sanding and staining the entire first floor to a darker stain. What do you think? Here are some shots of our first floor...