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enigmaingr 08-12-2011 12:17 AM

Removing tile "tar" adhesive from hardwood

I am renovating my kitchen and bath in a 111 year old house. Both rooms have hardwood underneath hard tile (asbestos kind, I know) and a top layer of cheap vinyl stickies.

My issue is how do I know when I've removed all the tar I possibly can before sanding? I'm assuming the wood will be stained by the tar? After using several different methods to loosen and remove the tar (boiling hot water works pretty good, BTW) and scraping, I believe I've got up all the tar I'm going to get. What remains is a wood grain with several tar stained areas. The floor hardly feels sticky or anything. Basically, am I now to the point where I can move to sanding operations?

rusty baker 08-12-2011 08:43 AM

If you sand, make sure you keep the dust in that room and wear protection. You will probably be putting asbestos into the air.

PeteW 08-13-2011 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by enigmaingr (Post 705447)
have hardwood underneath hard tile (asbestos kind, I know)
After using several different methods to loosen and remove the tar (boiling hot water works pretty good, BTW) and scraping, I believe I've got up all the tar I'm going to get. What remains is a wood grain with several tar stained areas.
Basically, am I now to the point where I can move to sanding operations?

As Rusty Baker warns, make sure you prep properly and use adequate respiratory protection as the mastic you have been removing and intend to sand will contain asbestos. What you've done so far sounds pretty safe, but sanding makes it much more dangerous to your health and contaminating your entire house. I suggest reading up on asbestos containment procedures. Also, as my expertise is more in the way of water damage drying and restoration I'd suggest getting a hold of a pin probe moisture meter that uses a numeric scale and making sure the wood floor is below 12% moisture content before sanding. Sanding a floor with an elevated moisture content can produce crowning once the floors moisture content returns to normal. A good visual check before sanding is to see if the wood is cupping. Cupping if you don't have any idea as to what I'm talking about means the the edges of your flooring slats will be raised up higher than the center of the slats creating a wash board effect. This is caused by moisture swollen wood. If you sand the floor in this condition you will sand off these raised edges. At first your floor will look nice and flat, but as your floor dries out to it's normal moisture content which is mostly determined by where you live (climate and region), the center of the slats/planks will become higher than the edges and the floor will appear to be rolling.

My advice, added onto Rutsy's, is check the moisture content of the wood before sanding. Depending on where you live, area with high humidity wait for floor to drop below 12%, area with low humidity allow it to drop below 9%. Depending of the humidity in you area this could take several months unaided, by mechanical means. A dehumidifier with the room closed up can speed up the process, opening windows on warm days with very low humidity will also be helpful, but to monitor these things you need a thermometer and a hygrometer (measures relative humidity). Relatively cheap combo units can be had at Radio Shack. I know this sounds a lot more complicated than you were probably counting on, but wood floors can be very unforgiving if not done correctly. I hope this is helpful.


Bud Cline 08-13-2011 04:23 PM


"The paragraph is a device of punctuation."
The indentation by which it is marked implies no more than an additional breathing space.

Like the other marks of punctuation . . . it may be determined by logical, physical, or rhythmical needs. Logically it may be said to denote the full development of a single idea, and this indeed is the common definition of the paragraph.

To allow a comment or series of comments to drone on without proper punctuation (spacing) makes writings difficult to read and more difficult for the reader to understand.

Readers tend to quickly lose interest in a block of lines that go on and on without some type of a break or punctuation. Reading becomes difficult and getting lost in the reading attempt causes a person to lose interest quickly.

PeteW 08-14-2011 01:30 PM

Let me be the first to point out..., correction - second to point out, that English grammar is not my strong suite. I accept the observations and candor on the subject of “paragraphs and spacing”, as it applied to increasing interest and lessening confusion of the written word. Admittedly, I found this public observation a bit condescending in spite of the ”Thumbs Up”, but, I did find it informative and in the future I will strive to apply said suggestions.

On a related note, I humbly submit that one’s motives for providing such advice may come into question when proffered unsolicited in such a pronounced and open way. Someone might almost interpret it as a public chastisement. Need I mention that unchecked hubris might cause even greater damage than a run-on-sentence or improper punctuation?

Not wishing to misinterpret anyone’s motives I refer all to a forum vehicle known as the “private message”. This communication vehicle seems to be unfamiliar to some. It is not at all public such as a forum post. It specifically allows direct and private communication between selected parties.

Unaware of the “private message” function?
Not to worry, even the greenest forum poster can learn to use it in no time. By left clicking on the desired member’s name/handle in the left column, a drop down menu will ensue, providing an option to solicit said member privately.

From the stand point of simply good, social, etiquette, not to mention professionalism, we might all do well to consider “private messaging” as a more congenial and less inflammatory way to offer unsolicited, but hopefully well intended advice to other forum members. Naturally, it is an equally good vehicle to privately communicate encouragement and good wishes as well.

Sorry to further detract from the intended content of this thread.

Pete W.

Bud Cline 08-14-2011 01:42 PM

When someone openly does dumb stuff on an internet forum they are soliciting responses whether they know it or not. Anything done publicly should be done with putting their best foot forward. And even then they can still expect open comments and even criticisms. If one walks around the community with his pants on the ground it is surely to be noticed.:)

Private Messaging is not a mandatory form of communication.

I noticed you didn't use Private Messaging either. H-m-m-m!:)

oh'mike 08-14-2011 02:10 PM

Just a note of caution when sanding any wood floor.

Especially one with cutback ----the sanding dust can and often does spontaneously combust.

Empty the dust bag regularly and don't leave dust in the bag when you go on break--or quit for the day.

PeteW 08-14-2011 04:09 PM


Originally Posted by Bud Cline (Post 707148)

I noticed you didn't use Private Messaging either. H-m-m-m!:)

As a newbie to the forum I do not have PM privileges. Besides you've more than made my point. Thanks for the assist.

oh'mike 08-14-2011 04:25 PM

Bud and Pete----Put your personalities on hold---this post is about flooring.

Do I have to make you both stand in a corner?

Do'tforgetthatIamapowerfulMODERATORandalwaysputase riousspinoneverything!

Shirley60 09-13-2011 11:44 PM

I may be killing myself! Seriously asbestos in the tar stuff...I wonder if its the same stuff I am trying to remove OMGosh if it is!! Our house build in 1948 no sub-floor pine wood floor. I pulled up carpet and the plywood underneath as it was warped. There was linoleum under, that I pulled it up. Then I was left with this black paper type tar looking stuff. OR could it just be adhesive and glue?? Wondering about health if I continue to try to get it up foot by foot with stripper?? Tell me something please....I'm such a newbie!

oh'mike 09-14-2011 06:35 AM

The tar paper does not contain asbestos---Relax.

The old cut back adhesive may contain asbestos---which is only a hazard in its powdered form-

Your liquid stripper did not allow the asbestos to go airborne.

Sanding the wood could--so be careful when sanding---

rusty baker 09-14-2011 09:51 AM

As far as I know, the lino installed in the 40s-50s was loose layed over either tar paper or newspaper. The tar paper can stick to the floor over time and look like cutback, but it should not be adhesive. But just to be safe, use caution when removing it.

Maintenance 6 09-15-2011 01:19 PM

Regular tar paper rarely contains asbestos, although I've seen some that did. Old linoleum can very well contain asbestos. If the tar paper like backing is separated from the linoleum, you need to be cautious.

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