Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


The carpet padding monster

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to deal with the crazy petrified carpet pad that fused itself to the hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, and hallway. It is some sort of diabolical material that is impervious to water, laughs at me when I use a sander, and outlasts me every time I try to use a utility scraper. This weekend I wanted to see if I could at least get the fabric backing off the top layer. Since the idea to use Downy fabric softener on the wallpaper had been so clever, I thought I’d try it on this floor thing. My logic was that if Downy works by breaking down some of the fibers in your clothes, and also does that to wallpaper, why not see if it would dissolve the bond between the fiber on my floor monster so I could scrape it off with something less damaging than a jackhammer. Well, to my surprise (these hairbrained ideas of mine usually don’t get very close to being successful) it worked! I sprayed a section at a time and let it sit for five minutes and when I came back the fabric was easy to scrape and actually peeled off in chunks in some places. Bravo!And for a bonus Bravo! I also found out that not only did the Downy work on the fabric, but it also made the padding itself somewhat tacky. I could scrape my knife over it and peel off curls of material rather than hacking away at it for hours to gain two inches of progress and a broken razor blade. I started alternating between working on the fabric and treating and scraping the hallway. You have to let the stuff sit for five minutes anyway, right? So by 1:00 I had removed half the fabric from the padding in the dining room and about a foot and a half by two foot chunk of the actual padding from the hallway.

Here are some pictures:

Some of the crap I scraped off the floor after applying Downy and water:

The fabric pulled up pretty easily with Downy:

A glowing example of why I am working so hard to remove this stuff right, and not do a half-assed job of it. Look how beautiful that wood is underneath!

The sander was having to take off too much of the finish to continue using it. It’s not any faster than scraping carefully with a razor anyway and the razor does a better job of keeping the finish intact.

I’ll just have to keep picking away at it whenever I get a chance. We’re not in a huge rush, so if I can get a couple square feet done each week, I should be totally done in, well, I’m not going to do the math, a few months. Or something. But looking at that floor, it will all be worth it.

[tags]carpet, photos[/tags]

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