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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are redoing our kitchen. Ripped everything out, including the top layer of flooring. Underneath we found a mess of two layers of linoleum/vinyl flooring on top of spongy particle board backer. The subfloor isn't much better. 5/8" plywood on 40"+wrapped sheetmetal "I" beam joists. The floor I'd bouncy to say the least, but all the flooring does add a bit of stability to the pile. The flooring continues into the entry where it changes to parkay floor with leveling compound on top of that. Mess!

So our question is whether or not we should try to remove the flooring, which seems to be alternately glued and stapled to the subfloor, or raise the rest of the floor (dining room, hallway and downstairs bedroom) to meet this 3/4"ish layered mishmash with plywood, or something else?

My father who is helping us with this project says it would be easier to build up the floor. But is it better? What would you do? Leave it? Rip it up and replace?
 

· Tileguy
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I'm confused as to what is still there and the different levels. However, you should remove everything until you get to the subfloor which is the thick layer over the joists.

Speaking of the joists. We need to know the size and type, species and grade if at all possible, their spacing and the unsupported span. Measure accurately.

Just noticed Rusty said it better than me. :thumbsup:

Jaz
 

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I concur with Rusty and Jaz. During my professional life I dried and restored interior water damage to houses and commercial/institutional buildings. I always preferred drying commercial and institutional buildings over houses, because especially when it came to drying flooring we could usually get it dried and, or, restored far more cheaply and efficiently than we could houses. The reason, in commercial buildings they normally did not just throw new flooring layers over old ones.

For some reason floor layering is more the rule than the exception when it comes to houses. Think of it like this: If you see how bad it is now, what do you think your new floor will look like in the near future as the old "spongy" layers and problems continue to fester. And god forbid you should have a water loss in your kitchen, having added yet another layer over what sounds like questionable remodeling construction to begin with. Know one expects to have plumbing fail, but it does all of the time and the fact this is true ensured me a very good living.

Don't get me wrong, removing all those layers will be hard, probably very hard, and more expensive, but in the end you want to end up with a solid level sub floor. Then the new finished floor you end up with will be a solid one.

Now I don't mean to give the impression that if you do all of this and later experience a significant water intrusion it will be a piece of cake, but realistically it will be much easier to get you back to normal than the first scenario. I hope this was helpful and not just TMI. :laughing:
 

· Tileguy
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My father who is helping us with this project says it would be easier to build up the floor.
That would certainly be "The Path of Least Resistance" but not the best thing to do. It is never a good idea to keep heaping layer on top of layer of floor coverings just to save the effort it would take to do it properly.

What is to be your final next generation of floor covering?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the replies. Great advice. It has become a big argument between me and my husband. I don't think it will be easier to leave it in place with all the workarounds we will have to do to get it level and stable. Did I mention we have 2 yr old twins running around in this mess? Yeah.

My inclination is to saw out the old subfloor and completely replace it. Then we won't have a dusty mess in the house trying to remove glued down layers of floor laid down in the 70s and 80s. I know it will bug me to leave the old floor in there, and it looks like people who owned the house before us have made that same decision 3 or 4 times.

We are replacing the floor in the entire house with 1/2" strand woven bamboo, click together floor. We choose a thin floor thinking that would fare better on the lousy subfloor.

So the best way to remove the old stubborn floor, would you:

1. Saw out the entire floor, subfloor and all, and replace
2. Rent a floor scraper to remove the layers of old flooring and repair existing subfloor
3. Hire someone to remove it, dust free
4. Cap the old floor add more layers and quit driving my husband nuts about it

I'll try to post pictures when I have a moment.
4.
 

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bclow
I really like the look of bamboo and it's good for the environment.

Hopefully this project doesn't cause to much friction between you and your husband. As far a stressfull events within marriages, remodeling is right up there with death and finances. The best thing to keep in mind is it is always harder than it first appears and it is always more expensive than you though it would be. Always. :)

That said there is no reason why it has to be a nightmare, Resolve yourself to the above and try and plan as much of it out as you can. Knowing what you are in for, and accepting that there is the unknown and unforeseen lurking out there, will help to reduce some of the stress.

Really need more information to be of any significant help to you. You mentioned that you have a sub floor that consists of a single layer of 5/8" plywood. That means your walls should have been erected after the sub floor was laid. I'm assuming from your first post that the cabinets and everything else sitting on top of the floors has been removed.


  1. Detailed pictures and measurements are usually very helpful.
  2. Are you changing or moving any electrical or plumbing?
  3. Is the sub floor Tongue and Grove (t&G)? Is the sub floor spongy, de-laminating or rotted in places. I've seen some framing contractors glue t&g sub floors along the joints and down to the joists as they installed them. That could make pulling them up pretty difficult and unnecessary if they are in good shape.
  4. How old is the house?
  5. Provide a detailed list of the materials involved, from joists to layers of old flooring and backer materials. From your earlier description I'd definitely like a picture of your joist. I'd like to know the spans and the spacing.
  6. Is the kitchen over a crawlspace or a basement or is it above the first floor?
 

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Don't take up the sub floor--not needed unless it's in really bad shape.

One method that works---use a Skill saw --set to the depth of the old flooring to be remove--and rip the flooring into manageable sized pieces.

A reciprocating saw ( Saws All) with a long blade mounted upside down will allow you to cut against walls and toe kicks.

Gloves--goggles and a respirator always!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
  1. Detailed pictures and measurements are usually very helpful.
    Some photos - floor with leveling compound (how we found it); under the house beams; damage around sink area
  2. Are you changing or moving any electrical or plumbing?

    Yes. Moving lots of electrical. Need outlets every 2 feet (per code). Moving refrigerator, so will have to move water. Sink, stove and dw are staying put.
  3. Is the sub floor Tongue and Grove (t&G)? Is the sub floor spongy, de-laminating or rotted in places. I've seen some framing contractors glue t&g sub floors along the joints and down to the joists as they installed them. That could make pulling them up pretty difficult and unnecessary if they are in good shape.

    Looking at it more closely, there is really only one spot that is questionable by the sink. A bit of black mold around the insulation and crumbling particle board underlayment. I think most of what I thought of as damage, was really the flex in the plywood subfloor.
  4. How old is the house?
    1974
  5. Provide a detailed list of the materials involved, from joists to layers of old flooring and backer materials. From your earlier description I'd definitely like a picture of your joist. I'd like to know the spans and the spacing.

    I poked my head (and camera) under the house and measured the joists. They are a ridiculous 46.5" center to center "Kaiser Steel K Beams". Fortunately the plywood subfloor is thicker than I thought at 1 1/8" thick. That should help some, but there is still too much flex. Not sure if it is T&G or not.
  6. Is the kitchen over a crawlspace or a basement or is it above the first floor?

    Kitchen is on the first floor over a crawlspace. Fortunately the second story has 16" wood joists.

At this point I'm inclined to try it myself... skill saw, wonder bar, dust mask, etc.
 

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I poked my head (and camera) under the house and measured the joists. They are a ridiculous 46.5" center to center "Kaiser Steel K Beams". Fortunately the plywood subfloor is thicker than I thought at 1 1/8" thick. That should help some, but there is still too much flex. Not sure if it is T&G or not.
Thanks for the pictures and your answers.

That's a crazy amount of span. Honestly, I'm at a loss on this as I've never seen that much span in a framed building commercial or residential. Even with engineered joists the On Center span has never been greater the 24". I imaging it feels like walking on a diving board.

Since it is 1 1/8" think I'm guessing the sub floor is made up of 1/2" plywood over over 5/8" plywood. Since I can't tell from you picture, if you measure the depth of your framing sole plate, a single plate should measure 1 1/2" from the top of the plate (where the studs sit) to the sub floor unless the second layer of sub floor was added after the walls were erected which is usually the case, then I'd suspect it will only measure 1".
I mention this only if you should deem it necessary to remove that top layer of sub floor.

Oh'Mike, has perfectly described the technique for removing the layers of old flooring and underlayment. As has been cautioned numerous times, where respirator and eye protection.

In addition strongly recommend sealing the kitchen off from the rest of the house (poly over openings, taped off to form a real seal, and I'd use powerful fans to vent the dust outside as I was cutting, if at all possible. A house built in 1974 almost assuredly had asbestos in some of the products that were used to construct and finish it.

All of this said I'd be very concerned installing any floor that was not very flexible over your sub floor as it must have tremendous flex. I wonder with out additional reinforcement if it might not cause major problems with the bamboo click lock floor you intend to use.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I'm surprised that those floor joists would even meet code.
Yes. Exactly! Somebody said it better in another forum, "...It was built to code in '75, by lunatics, apparently..."
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/repair/msg1111511919967.html?12

Reading a bit more, I'm wondering if indeed I do need to brace the floor with more joists before we install the floor. At least with the floating floor it's "easy" on, easy off. Relatively speaking. But maybe not so easy once we install our kitchen cabinets.

A house built in 1974 almost assuredly had asbestos in some of the products that were used to construct and finish it.
We already had our popcorn ceiling removed by an asbestos abatement company before we moved in. Didn't want to tackle that one ourselves. The last remaining patch (I'm assuming) is the floor in the kitchen/entry. I read somewhere that maybe joint compound may also contain asbestos? (is it used to mud drywall??)

I'm sealing up the room today with 3.5 mil plastic sheeting. What tape would form a proper seal? Painters' tape? Duct tape? I also have a few of those zippers you can tape onto plastic sheeting for easy access to the space. Now that I'm looking at them, they wouldn't seal it tightly enough (not like a ziplock seal, darn it!).
 

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I'm sealing up the room today with 3.5 mil plastic sheeting. What tape would form a proper seal? Painters' tape? Duct tape? I also have a few of those zippers you can tape onto plastic sheeting for easy access to the space. Now that I'm looking at them, they wouldn't seal it tightly enough (not like a ziplock seal, darn it!).
When doing abatement or remediation work we always had to use 6 mil poly, but for personal I'd think 3.5 mil is okay.

The zipper opening is also fine if you create a negative air situation in the kitchen. Using a window, you can vent with a fan (a box fan on high would work) blowing out through the open window (hopefully sitting in the window opening), tightly sealed around the edges with poly. You'll know you have decent negative air because the poly tenting will suck in toward the center of the room. So in case I've lost you, you want air to flow into the containment from the unaffected parts of the house and not the other way around.

Use Duct Tape (the grey or black kind 1-1/2" or 2" widths) to stick the poly together and to adhere it to the surfaces you are sealing against. If you are taping to painted woodwork, drywall or wallpaper, etc., plan on it causing damage to those surfaces when you remove it. We also used stripes of cardboard placed over the edges of the poly and then we stapled through the cardboard and poly into the surface we were attaching to. Then we duct taped along those edges covering the staples and sealing to the attachment surface. If you have access to a Sam's Club or Costco, these use to be less expensive places to buy duct tape. They sold it in four packs for a very reasonable rate compared to the Home Depots and Lowes.

Also you can add a flap of plastic, termed an air lock, which is several feet wider than the opening and taped across the top above the opening outside the containment so that once negative air is on it will suck the flap down against the opening. Done properly this works well and allows relatively easy ingress and egress to the containment area.

I have not gone into any sort of finite detail on this because it would go on forever, but hopefully you get the point and I'm certain more can be learned by Google-ing "remediation containment" or "abatement containment", probably even something on YouTube.

As you have read some joint compound (drywall mud) in those days did contain asbestos, but unless you'll be ripping out the drywall or heavily sanding it (going through) the paint then this really should not be a big deal, as it's all encapsulated and not going anywhere. Heck there might even be lead paint on the walls of woodwork.

One final note of caution. You probably have seen people in movies wearing the Tyvec suits while performing these tasks. This is largely to prevent them from hosting the asbestos in their clothing as they exist the containment. Usually decontamination chamber is attached to the containment and is nothing more than a separate poly room (more zippers and flaps) where the remediators change into or out of their protective suits, goggles, respirators (at least an N-95 filtered nose and mouth mask), etc. In your case you could just get dressed and shed those items within your containment.

Of course just know that as soon as you don all of your gear you will have to pee, so hit the bathroom first. :laughing: You will also become very hot so try and do this when it is as cool as possible and take frequent breaks and hydrate. Do not over heat :furious: and pass out, no a good way to get your rest. :no:

One last thing. Disposal. You will need many heavy duty plastic bags to put all of that questionable waste in. Then twist the necks closed, wrap them with duct tape, fold them and wrap another time around. This seals the bags and makes them safe to carry them through any part of the house you wish to remain uncontaminated. Naturally if you have an outside door from your kitchen then this will be ideal, but even then the sealed bags will reduce both your and others exposure as the bags/wastes are handled and disposed of.

One final caution. Check into and be aware of the laws and regulations regarding handling, transport and disposal of this material where you live.

Good Luck.
 

· Tile with Style
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Wow what a mess. You don't absolutely HAVE to take up the layers of flooring...but the bamboo is totally out of the question unless you do. I'm not an expert on this type of joist, it would probably be helpful to seek professional advice on this one. The only type of flooring I'd feel comfortable putting in without some serious floor bracing and completely gutting it down to the SF is linoleum. Sorry:(
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So I have convinced myself that the sheet vinyl/linoleum has asbestos in the paper backing. It looks like pictures of the stuff I have found online.

Thanks PeteW for the description of how to set up the room for containment. It is somewhat comedic trying to hang the poly myself using only duct tape. Get a short section up and it all falls down into one big stuck together ball of tape and plastic. Using my paper stapler for now! Have ordered a proper asbestos half mask since none of the big box stores seem to have even heard of asbestos. All the masks there say not to use them for asbestos abatement. So I found some cheap gear online at enviro something or other dot com.

To shore up the subfloor, that's gonna be a challenge. The click lock bamboo should have some give when the floor flexes... I hope.

To shore up the floor would you (after removing the old floor):
1. Add a layer of 5/8 ply on top
2. Crawl under the house and add bracing perpindicular to the steel k beams
3. Add new joists between the steel k beams so it is 24" on center
4. Do nothing until we have a problem (floor separating?)
5. Something else?
 

· Tile with Style
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There's no shortcuts to nice results that last a long time...You don't just guess and hope not to have problems later, because YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS!:yes: Get more info on your beams, it's an unusual system and before any list of options can be made you need to know more about what you're dealing with. They support everything above and obviously this room has had a troubled life. Keep on surfing the old www, and find out who sells those beams and call them.
 

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To shore up the subfloor, that's gonna be a challenge. The click lock bamboo should have some give when the floor flexes... I hope.

To shore up the floor would you (after removing the old floor):
1. Add a layer of 5/8 ply on top
2. Crawl under the house and add bracing perpendicular to the steel k beams
3. Add new joists between the steel k beams so it is 24" on center
4. Do nothing until we have a problem (floor separating?)
5. Something else?
I certainly agree with you that shoring up your floor is not only important, it is critical. This gets into some major structural renovations and is very possibly one of your biggest challenges. I totally agree with BlueStoneFloors that the click-lock flooring is out of the question until you sturdy your floor. It will be a complete disaster and waste of time and money.

First I'm going to do my best to answer your questions. Then I'm going to offer some additional advice. I say this because I have nearly no idea of the composition and construction of your beam/joist system. Also, I'm basing my answers on the fact that you will have removed all previous layers of flooring and are down to the original sub floor.

  1. I do not believe adding an additional layer of 5/8" plywood begins to solve your problem.
  2. I doubt this is needed unless you have evidence of the Beams dipping. Bracing below the beams would not address the bouncy floor problem at all.
  3. Bingo, except I'd go with the traditional 16" OC spacing using 2"x6" joist (considering a 48" span between beams).
  4. I would not wait, or if finances dictate otherwise I'd live with a plywood floor until I could afford to correct my structural problem correctly. Having lived without a decent kitchen for a few months myself at one time I can appreciate the hardship. During an extensive remodel, my wife and I used boxes, a camp stove and a bathroom sink to get by. It was not fun.
  5. See my additional suggestions below.
This part of your project is really much more about super structure than it is about the finished floor. Possibly you can find a a framing contractor in your area or here on DIY Chatroom who has experience with this type of system. To do this, I strongly suggest that you break out this portion of your project and post your questions regarding it under ONE of the following forums: Building and Construction, Remodeling or Carpentry. Take a look at these forums and based on content decide which one seems like your best choice to try next.

Below is some additional information regarding your "Kaiser Steel K Beams" joist/beam system, that I believe, you should provide in your new post. If I were doing this project, these are the questions I'd need answers to before I could proceed.

  1. What materials are the beams made of?
  2. Are the existing beams strong enough to attach additional joists to and can traditional wood joist be hung from/attached to them?
  3. If it is possible to attach additional joist, what tools and materials would be required to do this?
  4. Is there any other well explained, written precedent, that can read up on?
  5. Is there adequate access into the crawlspace beneath the kitchen?
  6. Does the space (working room) exist within the crawlspace to correct the joist system or will it be necessary to remove the sub floor (think total time and effort here compared to cost to replace the sub floor)?
Armed with the advice you have received in this thread including the answers and questions above, I'm hoping that you can find some good knowledgeable help in a more suitable forum.

Good luck with your clean up sounds as though you are on the right track.:thumbsup: I will still be here and I'd like to follow your progress if you would like for me to. When you start a new thread in one of the more appropriate forums please post me a link in this thread so I'll know where to find it.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I called up the city planner in the building department and asked him a bunch of questions about the floor joists. He said that people are still building houses "in the state" with 4' spans on steel beams. He also said that the special 1 1/8" ply T&G subfloor is more than adequate to support the loads.

When I said, yeah, but it feels like a trampoline... why so bouncy? He suggested it was likely dry rot, and that it wouldn't get better. Said that I could replace the subfloor, or brace it with 2X8s under the kitchen/dining room as a part of my remodel permit, but if I did it in other areas of the house I'd have to get a permit.

Slow progress. Waiting for my protective gear to arrive and for my husband to return from business trip.
 

· Tile with Style
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That's actually not terrible news, it means you're not in uncharted territory. I think the bracing with your remodel permit sounds like a good first step. Be patient, I'm glad to hear you are doing it right :thumbsup:
 

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If it is dry rot then the plywood will literally be weak enough is some places to push a screw driver through it. Naturally, you will want to replace it if that is the case. IMHO even if this is true, it will not be enough to just replace the plywood. I would contact the bamboo flooring manufacturer and ask them if they will warranty their product on such a foundation.

Aside from that I still stand by my original recommendations with the following mortification:

I suppose if you continue with the 1-1/8" T&G plywood subfloor a 2' span on joist will probably be sufficient.

Pete
 
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