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The Last of the Carpet Pad from Hell

Remember the carpet pad that I painstakingly rehydrated and scraped up so we could preserve the floor underneath? It looked like this:

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The reason I took such great care in removing the carpet pad but not removing the finish underneath was that I didn’t know when I’d be able to refinish the floors. Removing the finish would have left the wood vulnerable to stains and wear. I wanted it to be protected in the meantime.

I got nearly all of it done and then decided to buy an area rug. It looked like this:

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But I knew the time would come when I’d have to finish the job. This time, however, I’d have a plan for refinishing the whole floor, so my methods in getting the last of the carpet pad up could be more aggressive.

Here’s what I had left to finish under the area rug:

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I started back in with the rehydrating technique I’d used before (see “Carpet Padding Monster Meet Thy Doom” for more details) but since this was a high traffic area, the carpet pad was especially resistant.

I decided to bring in the big guns so I used Zinsser StripFast Power Stripper, a caustic 5-layer chemical gel that required adequate ventilation. Even that took multiple applications. Here’s how it looked as I removed the first layer:

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Note the nitrile gloves. This type of chemical stripper gives serious burns very quickly. Do not try using it with regular latex gloves. Go for the heavy duty chemical resistant gloves with long cuffs. I got one or two tiny splatters on my skin above the cuffs and they started to burn instantly. Fortunately, it’s soap and water washable, so a quick dash to the bathroom sink and I avoided any real injury.

Once I got most of the carpet pad off with the chemical stripper, there was still some residue left behind.

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I learned from past experience that the rubber content in the carpet pad would gum up sandpaper really quickly, so I used a heat gun to take up the last of the residue and the varnish underneath.

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Once the last of the carpet pad was up, it looked like this:

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Now I was ready to sand off the rest of the finish and apply stain and sealant.

But first, a little victory dance.

Kelli: 1, Carpet Pad: 0

A Cacophony of Smells

Today Our New Old House smells like the following:

  • CitriStrip
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Fabric Softener
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Rustoleum spray paint
  • Tea tree oil & lavender
  • Nachos

It’s been a busy weekend in Our New Old House. We set ourselves a deadline of Dec. 19 to have the living room and dining room done – or at least done enough to host a big holiday party. That meant we have to get the following list of things done:

  • Strip paint off woodwork
  • Finish scraping up crustified carpet padding
  • Paint the walls
  • Rearrange the cables and electronics in the bookcase
  • Paint the cold air return grate
  • Make everything tidy and pretty

I think we’re on track to make all of those things happen. Dining room is painted. Today Brandon primed the last bit of the living room that needed it. I spray painted the grate. Woodwork is done except for a couple of troublesome spots with stubborn paint. Sections of carpet padding in the dining room are soaking, to be scraped tomorrow after work.  I bought the supplies I’ll need to stain parts of the woodwork and polyurethane it, but I think those final steps will have to wait until after the party. For now, the woodwork looks lovely just stripped of paint. It’s got a nice rich color and a smooth finish so that’s good enough for now.

It’s time for me to take a shower and get to bed. I’m exhausted, but I can’t wait to show off our progress. I’ll have some pictures soon of our living room and dining room, as well as a little treasure Brandon found behind one of the built-in bookcases.

Pee smelling carpet… be gone!

I ripped out the carpet in the bathroom this week. It smelled like pee. Here’s Zoot sitting on the carpet one last time:

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Under the carpet was some nasty padding:

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And under that was some wierd old flooring that looks like those marble colored rubber balls that come with a jacks set.

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Anyway, that smelled like mildew. I put down some baking soda and left it there overnight. That got rid of the smell. Now it’s just ugly. But it’s better than pee-smelling carpet.

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[tags]bathroom, cats, photos, flooring, carpet[/tags]

Update: Carpet Padding

I’ve been making steady progress scraping up the solidified carpet padding from days of yore. Here are some pictures of the past two weeks’ progress:

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Carpet Padding Moster, meet thy doom!

I believe I have perfected my technique for removing the hard-as-a-rock cemented down carpet padding that was left behind from the late 60s/early 70s.
The good thing here is that the padding has hopefully protected the wood for all these years. The bad thing is that if I want to keep the original finish of the wood (which is a beautiful honey gold color) I have to remove all this padding meticulously by hand using a razor blade.

A very nice man named Lee Bleeker was among the attendees at our Des Moines Rehabbers Club meeting on Saturday and he stuck around afterwards to give me some advice about my problem. Lee is an old-school carpeting expert, certified as a Master in his trade by an association of his peers. He was able to expand on what I’d already learned in my research. He told me that this padding was not stuck down with adhesive (thank God!) It’s made of rubber and clay and over the years it dried out and got tamped down by foot traffic and as it dried, the clay hardened and the rubber lost its flexibility and there you have it: about a half acre of crusty, crappy carpet padding gumming up my beautiful hardwood floors.

He said I was on the right track with using a razor and wetting the material to loosen it. But he also explained that the dryness was the real reason why the padding was so hard. If I could force moisture back into the padding without harming the wood surface underneath, I’d have an easier time removing it and less chance of harming the finish.

So here’s how I put his advice into practice:

First I sprayed my mixture of fabric softener and water onto the padding, enough to really soak it.

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Then I put plastic grocery bags down on top of the area I sprayed and tamped them down with my feet.

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I did an area the size of two grocery sacks.

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I laid down a section of old carpet I’d been using as a knee pad on top of the grocery sacks.

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I left the rug there overnight.

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In the morning it almost nearly all came off!

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Here’s a section of the hallway I did using the same technique:

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With just a few little touch up spots left behind, this is by far the best technique I’ve found so far for removing this horrible stuff. Many thanks to Lee for his generosity in sharing his wisdom with this newbie.

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