Trying to get to the 1890's wood floor under 2" of subfloor+


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Old 09-28-14, 03:12 AM
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Trying to get to the 1890's wood floor under 2" of subfloor+

I have been trying to remodel my late grandparents 100 yr+ farmhouse for the last month. By myself. It's a huge undertaking to say the least. Long story short, I've discovered the kitchen has a beautiful --and by the looks so far, pristine wood floor way down deep. I haven't a clue what species of wood it is. Walnut maybe, but not hard enough. Anyway, as I was digging into the lumpy linoleum that is currently the top layer, I found a 5/8" plywood subfloor stapled to the floor beneath, which I thought was the wood floor. The more I went into the room (foot by foot) I found another layer of bright blue vinyl tile, tarred (black sticky gummy crap) down to another 5/8" sheet of plywood, nailed with varying sized nails to the desired wood floor, and in some places, likely 50-70 years ago someone attempted to shim low spots with more tar and plywood veneer. Further still, I found another layer of a weird floral papery vinyl type flooring just laying there. The desired wood floor was protected, sanded, and waiting to be uncovered.

Of the four people "supposed" to be helping me, I am the only one doing anything and the only one wanting to get down to original. It took me several hours to get 30 inches into the kitchen. Each layer was nailed or stapled like a hundred times in each square foot. How can I get through and remove each layer without damaging the beautiful floor 2 inches down and not take weeks to get it up? I am extremely handy for being a chick, but not experienced in subfloor removal. or at least not one of this depth, adhesion, and importance. What handy tools should I acquire? I used a circular saw to get through the 1st two layers of plywood once it became 2 full layers. That was slow and tedious. I had to use a chisel and multi tool to get up the veneer and tar at the door way. It was a strange sandwich of numerous materials likely found around the farm. Then pry and pound down, remove nails, repeat, pry, pound, pull. There has to be something faster or at least more productive. Please some advice! The photo attached is the same floor material I found in the dining room and living room under carpet. It also was tarred and sanded before being covered up, but not sanded well. The kitchen actually looks to be in better shape.
 
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Last edited by khoef532; 09-28-14 at 03:14 AM. Reason: adding
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Old 09-28-14, 03:30 AM
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Welcome to the forums! My goodness, you have a nice floor under all the crud! I don't know of an easy way to remove subflooring. Have you tried larger single layers, say 4'x4'? What is under this flooring, how thick is it?
 
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Old 09-28-14, 05:46 AM
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Underneath that strip flooring is wider plank rough sawn <fir>? its about 1.5x6 t&g. Whatever skeletons of houses were made with way back when. I have not tried larger sections because I was under the impression the whole floor was tarred on the good wood. I was essentially treasure hunting and trying to figure out this crazy floor. It makes no sense why they did what they did! The strip flooring is only about 1/4 to 1/2 thick. I would have to lightly sand, but thats really all thats needed, then a dark stain to hide blemishes.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 06:04 AM
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Work one layer at a time. Locate where the line of nails, set your circular saw to the exact depth of the layer and cut 1" to the side of a row of nails. This gives you a section approx. 16" wide with nails located on one side. With a prybar, go to the opposite side without the nails and lift to board. The board will act as a lever and provide you the leverage to easily lift the board up and the nails at the other side will begin to pull out. Then, with the nails loosened, go to that side with the prybar and finish that section. While not a fast process, it will go quicker than trying to get a whole sheet up at once by yourself.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 06:42 AM
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This may be a stupid question but should I literally do one layer at a time? As in, pull up the vinyl to see where the seams and nails/staples are in each decade of floor? Or is that just an unnecessary step? I was told by my "partners" it's not worth the work for one, and two why make more work for yourself. I found the vinyl made it hard to see what I was working with but now that I know... But I suppose each layer will get lighter! 2 inches! Cripes I say. Where's the Tylenol.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 07:38 AM
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The nails should be in some form of pattern. Don't worry about the vinyl, make a cut out the depth of the first layer of plywood and remove. Note where the nail pattern is and adjust your cuts so that the nails fall at the edge of your cut so you can get the leverage effect to help get the sections out.

Even I, who does this sort of thing for a living, would not tackle more than one sheet of ply at a time. The force needed to work against all the mechanical fasteners would be the equivalent of going to the gym and trying to lift a full stack of weights. Take it in small chunks, it may seem slower, but will be easier in the long run.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 08:25 AM
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Once you figure out the depth, you should just be able to saw the whole floor. If I was doing it, I'd probably saw the floor into "easy" to pull up chunks, say 2' x 2'... the "small chunks" that czizzi mentioned. It's a lot easier to pull up a small chunk than a large one. The cutting is the fast part, so why not make it easy on yourself and just do a lot of cutting. Just be darn sure you aren't cutting TOO deep or you will really kick yourself.

Be advised that there may be asbestos present in that vinyl flooring and cutback adhesive.

http://www.pscleanair.org/regulated/.../asb-vinyl.pdf
 
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Old 09-28-14, 12:47 PM
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That is not walnut. You say the wood is softer than walnut? If it is, I would say it is pine, but I have my doubts. If the flooring is as thin as your say, it is probably something more valuable. Just on looks alone, I would say it is maple. Most like hard maple which is way harder than walnut. Could be soft maple which is a bit harder than walnut.

If you have 2" of flooring, I think it is worth getting off to have a good surface to put whatever new floor on if you were going to do that. Having the nice wood underneath is a bonus.

It's always good practice to pace yourself and let your tools do that work. That's what they are there for. Struggling to get a giant chunk up at once may take longer than doing the small pieces. More importantly, even if it was faster, you will wear yourself out completely. It's very hard to stay motivated when you are hurting and tired. Work smarter, not harder.
 
 

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