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Old 09-21-2008, 10:15 PM   #1
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


Hi all, a newbie checking in... It's my first post and my first home, so I am a complete DIY virgin.

Here is my problem...

I want to get down to hardwood in my kitchen and it has 2 different subfloors. I fear harming the hardwood when I try to pry both layers up at the same time..(not to mention it is damn near impossible), so I thought I would remove one layer at a time. I can work my pry bar between the 2 sheets but again, have a snowballs chance in hades of getting a 4x8' sheet....so.....

I was wondering if I can set my circular saw at 1/2" or so and cut the the top layer of subfloor into smaller sections to remove it? What if I run across a nail with my saw? Anyone have any better strategies they wanna share?

Go easy please, I'm a newbie, remember?

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Old 09-21-2008, 10:56 PM   #2
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


This seems like a silly question, but since you didn't say how you discovered it...are you certain there is hardwood under the 2 layers of plywood, or whatever the 4x8 sheets are? If there is then you have 2 layers of underlayment (subfloor is below the underlayment, which in this case would be below the hardwood) on top of your hardwood, which seems strange, but anything is possible.

If you are certain of the thicknesses of the 2 underlayments you could use a circular saw to cut it into smaller pieces for easier removal. What type of finished flooring do you currently have? Is it carpet? Assuming it was carpet and there isn't vynil tile or something on top of the underlayment you could just pull all the nails on the sheet. If it's linolium or some other vynil product, the saw is probably your best best. Nails, screws, etc will be hard on the blade, but the saw will go through it.

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Old 09-22-2008, 05:37 PM   #3
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


Sorry, I must have the terms wrong; I guess i meant subfloor to mean under the tile thats on top. The house is all hardwood and I think they just used the HW as teh "subfloor" in the kitchen to attach backerboard to and at the last redecoration, simply added new backerboard right on top of the old floor. Its a shotgun double built around the turn of the century...last century. The floor (HW) goes from the dining room into the kitchen and it (the kitchen floor) is nearly an inch higher. When I removed a metal transition piece from the threshhold of the doorway, you can see the 2 distinct layers of "underlayment". The kitchen has OLD stick on tiles now, several of which have come off.

Regardless of whether it is hardwood or not, I want to remove backerboads to reinstall more tile. It it is hardwood, I am refinishing the rest of the floors anyway..

If I do use my circular saw, what will happen if i go accross an unseen nail?

Thanks!
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:31 PM   #4
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


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Originally Posted by Bacchusbill View Post
Sorry, I must have the terms wrong; I guess i meant subfloor to mean under the tile thats on top. The house is all hardwood and I think they just used the HW as teh "subfloor" in the kitchen to attach backerboard to and at the last redecoration, simply added new backerboard right on top of the old floor. Its a shotgun double built around the turn of the century...last century. The floor (HW) goes from the dining room into the kitchen and it (the kitchen floor) is nearly an inch higher. When I removed a metal transition piece from the threshhold of the doorway, you can see the 2 distinct layers of "underlayment". The kitchen has OLD stick on tiles now, several of which have come off.

Regardless of whether it is hardwood or not, I want to remove backerboads to reinstall more tile. It it is hardwood, I am refinishing the rest of the floors anyway..

If I do use my circular saw, what will happen if i go accross an unseen nail?

Thanks!
Hello Bacchusbill;

The subfloor is what sits on top of the joists. In the 1940's and 1950's when sheet products where readily available, plywood and even particle board were used as subflooring.

Prior to the use of sheet products, tongue and groove boards were often used, I think 6" wide was common. They are often run on the diagonal in higher end installations / homes. These boards were not finish grade, and are just subflooring. Something really needs to go on top of them, like luan, tile backer board, or plywood -- whatever material is appropriate for the flooring that is going to be installed.

Can you remove the underlayment and top layers of flooring and leave the subfloor alone? sure.

How much work is it going to be,,, Well it depends on the underlayment and flooring material that was used.

A circular saw can be used set to the proper depth to cut out the floor as you described. However, I am loathe to recommend this procedure. Circular saws used in this manner can and DO KICK BACK, and IT IS VERY DANGEROUS!!! Unless your very experienced with the use of a circ saw (and absolutely know that you will be standing with yourself out of harms way the entire time), I would not even attempt this.

If your bound and determined to do this, A worm drive saw gives you a little more control and is a little less dangerous.

Also if you do decide to do this, I would buy a higher quality blade, at least something like the $10 Irwin framing blades, they are much better than the cheap blades.

A good blade can hold how to many more nail hits than a cheap blade. However, keep in mind that anything you hit or even just the flooring material can cause the saw to bind up and kick back, which can mean a running circ saw is thrown into your leg if your in the way. I feel like the worm drive is safer since you have more control and you can put more weight against it.

p.s. If you use a cheap circular saw you may burn the motor up. (i.e. skill saw) - I have a skill as a junker saw and used it on a similar project recently, and I burned the windings in the motor, it was just too hard on it. I would check out this worm drive saw if your going to proceed with this project:

http://www.boschtools.com/Products/T...spx?pid=1677MD

We like the porter cable circ saws best, but they don't make a nice tough worm drive saw. Bosch stuff is normally very nice and normally very tough and should perform well cutting through tough old flooring. The milwaukee would also be a very good choice for this job:

http://www.milwaukeetool.com/webapp/..._192212_192137

You should be able to rent one of these if your unwilling to buy one.

-Jamie
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:08 PM   #5
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


In a case like this use a carbide-tipped saw blade and consider the blade sacrificial. It will easily cut the nails and if you ruin the blade, you ruin the blade. That's how it's done.

You don't want to install tilebacker cement board directly over dimensional lumber. You should have a layer of plywood (min 3/8") between the two.

All of the above posts are very confusing.
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:15 PM   #6
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thanks, jamie. That helps tremendously.

And Bud.
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:45 PM   #7
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


Agree with Bud on the carbide blade! You can often get a "multi pack" at the big boxes pretty reasonably so you can change out if you need to. (I've bought Dewalt 4 or 5 packs at HD.) Jamie's point about the worm drive has a lot of merit, but if this is a one time deal, (and it sounds like a small area) it may be hard to justify the expense. I'd just go with a "disposable" priced saw. Take your time and be VERY CAREFUL! ABSOLUTELY wear eye protection. Push the saw slowly and you won't have so much kick back when you do hit a nail. Just let the saw "burn" throught it.
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:54 PM   #8
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Although safety is paramount, I don't see much of any risk in removing the subfloor with a circular saw. An although a worm drive is a more powerful tool, I see no reason to purchase one for what is being proposed here. Worm drives are great for deep cuts that require a lot of power. Cutting like this will barely tap the saw's potential. Just set the depth shallow so you don't over-score the subfloor or hardwood that you're trying to save. Use two hands and go slow. You'll probably never know it if you hit a nail, the saw will cut right through.
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:04 AM   #9
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Although safety is paramount, I don't see much of any risk in removing the subfloor with a circular saw. An although a worm drive is a more powerful tool, I see no reason to purchase one for what is being proposed here. Worm drives are great for deep cuts that require a lot of power. Cutting like this will barely tap the saw's potential. Just set the depth shallow so you don't over-score the subfloor or hardwood that you're trying to save. Use two hands and go slow. You'll probably never know it if you hit a nail, the saw will cut right through.
Perhaps I was being overly cautious. I just cut out the entire floor in my kitchen.

1/2 Plywood, 1/2 Particle, 1 lay of lineolium, 1 Layer of very thick Vinyl, 1 layer of luan, 1 layer of Inlaid vinyl. Lots of ring shank nails, staples, regular nails, glue, gunk, etc. I removed it all right down to the joists. It did require more power than my "demo saw" the skill could muster (it did kick back on me, bound up multiple times, and the saw smoked), but my Porter cable with a sharp blade cut right though all of it.

I knew it when I hit a ring shank, those were some tough suckers. The other nails were not a challenge.

Jamie
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:06 AM   #10
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Although safety is paramount, I don't see much of any risk in removing the subfloor with a circular saw. An although a worm drive is a more powerful tool, I see no reason to purchase one for what is being proposed here. Worm drives are great for deep cuts that require a lot of power. Cutting like this will barely tap the saw's potential. Just set the depth shallow so you don't over-score the subfloor or hardwood that you're trying to save. Use two hands and go slow. You'll probably never know it if you hit a nail, the saw will cut right through.
Agreed,Any saw with a good blade will work Here. get your self a home depot dewalt carbide framers blade it will work just fine. No need for the purchase of a worm drive, there intended purpose was for a bench saw. All tho you could use them for general purpose use. but could be cumbersome, and heavy after a while.
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Old 09-24-2008, 05:33 PM   #11
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Removing Subfloor(s?)


Dewalt carbide framing blade...check.
Common sense and a healthy respect for the saw....Check.
Ability to work slow...Check

I guess I am ready to get started. Thanks for everyones advice, I will check back and let ya know my progress.
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Old 09-24-2008, 05:38 PM   #12
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Good luck!
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Old 09-25-2008, 05:34 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bacchusbill View Post
Dewalt carbide framing blade...check.
Common sense and a healthy respect for the saw....Check.
Ability to work slow...Check

I guess I am ready to get started. Thanks for everyones advice, I will check back and let ya know my progress.
just make sure you have on some sort of safety glasses or shield, the blades will throw some Shrap metal.

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