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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My boyfriend and I recently purchased a house built in 1918 that actually used to be a school. Our goal is to eventually refinish all the old hardwood floors in this house. We have kind of hit a stump in our living room though. Underneath layers (literally) of laminate we found tar paper that has been almost melted and set into the hardwood floor. We have been scraping it, but only so much will come up. We recently tried a heat gun, stripper, and mineral spirits, all of which the hardware store recommended. Nothing has worked though. It all just gums up the tar paper and makes it soak into the floor worse.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to get this crud up??? It sucks that we are probably just going to have to scrape it all off and pay a ton to sand the rest of it. Please help!!

Thanks!





 

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I wish I had a good answer for ya.

Did you find any asbestos?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Florcraft said:
I wish I had a good answer for ya.

Did you find any asbestos?
There was asbestos in the basement around the old piping down there. There was also the old bathrooms, so we took the toilet and urinal out and there was just a hole in the concrete where the toilet waste went. We took any asbestos we found, shoved it down in the hole and sealed it off.

There is a firewall in between the living room and the bathroom. Our room mate, the construction guy helping us out with all of this, thinks it might be asbestos but who knows. We sealed it off as well.

Luckily the tar is only in the one room. The floors in the rest of the house are in wonderful condition and will look nice when we refinish them. It just sucks that tar is in our living room where we were planning on putting a pool table, bar, etc... because I don't think we'll ever get it all off.
 

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Asbestos can be tested for about $40. Look in the yellow pages under asbestos testing. Requires about a 1 sq in patch and takes a day(where I go).
If it has no asbestos, it can simply be sanded off with a drum sander and a very low grit paper, 12, 16 or 24, whatever it takes. Not uncommon on old fir or pine subfloors. Used to be we just took a machine to it not knowing about asbestos. The asbestos threat is a little overblown, but serious enough to take heed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Marco said:
Asbestos can be tested for about $40. Look in the yellow pages under asbestos testing. Requires about a 1 sq in patch and takes a day(where I go).
If it has no asbestos, it can simply be sanded off with a drum sander and a very low grit paper, 12, 16 or 24, whatever it takes. Not uncommon on old fir or pine subfloors. Used to be we just took a machine to it not knowing about asbestos. The asbestos threat is a little overblown, but serious enough to take heed.
Thank you for the good advice! I will make sure to get this stuff tested before we go ahead with sanding it etc....

On the brighter side of things, I've gotten a glimmer of home today after much scraping of this gooey crud!

 

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A LOT of sanding may be your only option (after testing for asbestos) but by the looks of it, it will be a beautiful floor when you're done. Get yourselves a couple of good quality masks too.

Someone else here may have another idea for you later...

Good luck :thumbs:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Alright... so it's been a few years, and the living room had been put on complete hold until this last month or so. Since the floors were in such horrible shape, we decided we would get the rest of the house done first, then come back to this.

Anyways, we've almost got it done - started sanding the floors yesterday, then ran out of paper and the hardware store ran out of paper. They are getting more today, so we will finish sanding tonight. After that, then we have the trim and lighting and we'll be done! Yay!

To kind of jog your memories - this is what the floors looked like before -
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here is what the floors looked like as of last night when we stopped sanding. Granted, we only went over them one and a quarter times with 40 grit sandpaper before we ran out, so there is still a lot of tar on there.

I'll post some more as we get further on down the line with the floors - we plan to get an orbital sander to do the finishing touches, but are waiting until we finish the trim/crown molding so we can get the scaffolding out of there.
 

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I would say you got about 2-4 more passes with the drumsander(especialy that little rental unit) you can see the tar within the grain of the wood. Once looks clean start making your way up to 100grit paper (40,60,80,100) then hit with a floor polishing machine with a fine sanding screen. :thumbsup: You've gone this far, you might as well do it right.
good luck
 

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Use 24 grit new, then 40, 60, 100 done.. You've got the worst part up...Use an edger for the perimeter and use the random orbital sander to blend your drum sannding marks with the eger marks.. also to get your edger scratches off. This is the most important part and if not done.. I'll look like a diy project done poorly. Good Luck
btw the trick to getting this stuff up with the scraper is using a carbide blade and always making sure its sharp/ changing them often...
 

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I don't do hardwood, but would like to share a quote I actually heard a "hardwood guy" tell a customer, while I was on a tile job. The floor he was looking at refinishing, had numerous pet stains. Not saying this applies to this situation, or trying to ruffle any feathers, just thought it was funny.

"If you take a piece of crap, and shine it up, all your gonna have is a shiny piece of crap"

Only he didn't say crap. The home owner laughed and took his advice. I ended up carpeting the room a week later.
 

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Ive heard that one b4... but would never use that on a potential customer. Sounds Hillbilly. Two options 1. replace the boards. 2. Stain dark, like jacobean or ebony. Most of the time only one that will notice will vew the h/o an me. I do it all the time (stain dark) and my customers are always happy with the results. You just have to lower their expectations..100 yr old floors in these parts, its quite common.
 

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There's something to be said about the beauty of 100+year old floors.
Ya ain't ever going to be able to duplicate the look of this old floor and you can't buy the any old wood for under $20-$30 bd/ft.
People pay a lot of money for wood that has been distressed and isn't even original to their homes.
I think the redone oak will be an asset to your 1918 Home.

Please post finished project.
 

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Ive heard that one b4... but would never use that on a potential customer. Sounds Hillbilly
.

I could not agree more. I thought the fact that he said this to a customer was the funny part. Again, I was not trying to offend, or offer an opinion on the subject. It just reminded me of that day. I like the look of the old stuff also, and after all the work they are putting in to them, I'm sure they will look beautiful. Look forward to seeing the finished project.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone! We are definitely going to try our best to save the floors in this room. The floors in the rest of the house were just carpeted over all these years, so they are in reasonable shape, with exception to the kitchen.

We almost gave up last night when we got down to our last sheet of 40 grit, and barely had half of the room done with the rough sanding. I've found a couple of places online where I can order 24 grit paper, so I'm going to do that today and hopefully have them be here by Saturday. Once we get the majority of the tar up, then we'll move up to the different grits.

This weekend we will rent the belt sander again as well as the edger, and hopefully have them ready for the orbital. We're not going to get the orbital until we get all of the ceiling trim and moldings up.


Old wood floors in this area aren't uncommon, but it's more the historical factor for us. This house was the first public school in the county, and if we hadn't gotten our hands on it, the developers behind us would have and there wouldn't be anything left of this place.

Between the floors in this room as well as restoring it back to it's 12ft ceilings and restoring the original tin tile ceilings, this room has been a great hassle for us, but it's going to look great when it's done.


I'll post more photos as we get more done over the weekend.

-Bozzy, I can't believe someone actually said that to a customer of theirs! It's kind of funny, but if I was the customer I would've been appalled.
 

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Hi, you might want to post your experience over at the DIY Chatroom.

As a Home Owner, you would have alot of other DIYers interested in seeing the progress you are making, as well as your experience in refinishing your floor.
 

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Hey Angel,
I just posted these links on another thread about 83year old floors;

http://terramai.com/products/flooring/oak.html#

http://www.appalachianwoods.com/flooring/sale_items.htm

This will give you some idea of what people pay for used and reclaimed wood,including hardwoods for flooring.

It might not be a bad idea to contact them on tips to preserve the age/patina of your floors.
I know you've been doing a lot of sanding,but maybe they would have some helpful information for you for finishing to enhance the beauty and value .

Just a thought,
John
 
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