A major problem that one encounters when refurbishing old wooden floors is that of carpet glue. When these floors were first covered by carpets, back in the day when thick pile carpets were popular, they used carpet glue to stick the carpets down. The good news is that it can be removed successfully. The majority of it needs to come off before sanding the floor otherwise the sand paper will get clogged which will result in a higher cost of consumables as well as time in changing the paper more often. With a bit of time and the right tools and substances the job can be done quite quickly.
The glue that will have been used will either be a tar based substance or a general carpet adhesive. Most older houses will have used a tar based substance and newer houses a general purpose carpet glue. Tar based glues will have a tan to dark brown appearance whilst general purpose glues will be yellowish in colour. The process is very similar but the materials used will differ and it is important to choose the correct one so as not to waste time and money.
Tar based glue is best removed or loosened using mineral spirits which is readily available at any hardware store and is inexpensive. General purpose glue is best removed using a modern-day adhesive remover also available at your local hardware store. If you are a contractor, I would suggest sourcing the supplier, as this will reduce your cost significantly. Follow the instructions carefully as they will be pretty thorough and will explain how each product works best. Both products will be applied using either a sponge or roller and enough time needs to be given to allow it to do its magic. It is a very similar process to removing paint using paint stripper.
Once it has done its magic, use a plastic putty knife or similar to scrape and loosen the glue. Don’t use a steel knife as this can leave deep marks and gouges in the wood, making your sanding job a lot harder.
Once the bulk of the glue has been removed soak a rag in the mineral spirits or adhesive remover and rub the floor to remove the last bit. If you find that you have stubborn areas you can use a steel knife but be careful not to damage the floor or yourself.
The floor should now be left to dry completely. Leave the widows open too to get good ventilation and speed up the drying process. Check on the instructions if you can use water to clean it or not, although this will probably not be necessary as you are still going to sand it.
Your floor is now ready to be sanded smooth before re-sealing. Always take precautions and work in well-ventilated areas when using an adhesive remover as these substances can be very harmful. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and take heed of their precautions. They know their product better than anyone.
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