Replacing old flooring questions.


Old 09-11-14, 11:21 AM
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Replacing old flooring questions.

Hey all,

Here's a quick summary since I like to give long stories: How can I SAFELY remove old tongue and groove hard wood, and what kind/how do I lay new subfloor over plank subflooring.

I've been doing some major renovations to the house for a couple of months now and I'm getting pretty close to being ready to put floor back in, even though at the start of this project I was expecting to already be relaxing and enjoying my completed house... (Yay weekend warrior!)

Anywho... previously I had asked about refinishing some old hardwood that was in the house since I really wanted a beautiful floor that would last for years and years to come, but I soon discovered that the hardwood that I thought was original was actually laid over top of the original hardwood... what?! This more or less defeated my entire plan with the floors so I've been wrestling with the options ever since then.

I figured I could either finish the floor I planned on finishing (cost of $4500 professionally), take out the first layer of hardwood and see what the original wood looks like to see if it could be refinished (cost of $1500 to tear out plus I guarantee it was covered for a reason so high refinishing cost), or take it all out and start new ($2200 for new laminate hardwood flooring, plus cost of prep).

All of this thinking came during the same time that I was removing some walls (still have a crew coming out for load-bearing ones) and upgrading my electrical panel to replace my old gas water heater with an electric tank less one, since as luck would have it the exhaust vent for my 14-year old one ran right through the wall that I removed from the middle of my living room. As I should have expected, costs skyrocketed and I'm still left with floor to deal with and then there's a whole list of other projects to do before spring... So I chose the new laminate hardwood flooring!

I don't want to waste this 130 year old (tongue and groove)hardwood, so I've decided to use it for various other projects around the house to keep some of the character that I wanted out of this project originally. I haven't been able to find and definitive answers on how to pull out tongue and groove hardwood with out wrecking it so I'm a bit nervous about pulling it up with out proper guidance. (QUESTION 1) If anyone has suggestions on how to carefully remove tongue and groove boards with out destroying them I would greatly appreciate the advice.

Of course once I get the hardwood ripped out I'll be looking at some 130+ year old plank subfloor as well, and from the research that I've done that's not going to be optimal for laying new flooring on top of. I REALLY don't want to rip out the current subfloor and be left with just the joists since I only really have time to work on this during the weekend and not being able to finish it in one weekend would leave me with holes into the basement for a week. (QUESTIONS 2, 2.5, and 3) Would using the plank subfloor be okay if it already has proven to be sturdy enough to hold 3 layers of flooring? How do you secure the new subfloor over the current subfloor (secure to joists or to planks)? What material would you suggest to put down over top of it (I'm leaning towards 1/2"+ OSB)?

I think that covers it all for now, but I'm sure I'll have more questions as people respond. Thanks for taking the time to read!

Recap of questions:
1) How can I remove old tongue and groove hardwood with out damaging it (too bad)?
2) Can/Should I put new subfloor OVER the current plank subfloor?
2.5) How do you secure a new subfloor to and old one? Secure to joists or secure to old subfloor?
3) What material would you suggest I use as a new subfloor? Currently I am thinking 1/2" + OSB.

Last edited by Deaner13; 09-11-14 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 09-11-14, 01:03 PM
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1). You can't
2) Yes, depending on your substructure, it could be 1/2" or 3/4"
2.5). Screw down the plank subflooring to the joists with 2 3/8" decking screws. Screw the new subflooring to the planks intentionally missing the joists.
3) i would use Ac or BC plywood. Not CDX.
Old 09-11-14, 01:12 PM
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Chandler, you seem to be the most active person on the forum! I've seen a lot of high quality posts from you, so I appreciate the advice.

It's a shame there's no way to get the hardwood out without killing it ... I've heard "carefully lift it out" but that seems like a horrible idea...

Truth be told, I'm not going to be using it as flooring anywhere, I was hoping to make some furniture with the wood the t&g doesn't matter a whole bunch to me at the moment. Is cutting along the seams with a circular saw a viable option? The diagonal nails between the boards scare me with this approach.
Old 09-11-14, 01:58 PM
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Thanks, but it takes us all for checks and balances. Cutting the seams is not an option. The flooring is held in place with either cleats or staples, and very well,I might add. If done properly, every 8". Prying it up will break the tongues or the top part of the groove. Once you get it removed, and the cleats/staples pulled, it makes nice firewood.
Old 09-11-14, 05:08 PM
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Experimentation with the hardwood. I have successfully remove hardwood from a small bathroom and re-installed after repairs. Flat pry bar, lots of elbow grease. It has to come out anyway. Might as well try. I have also removed individual pieces during installation when a bugger or a narrow stick was discovered. Pry up enough to get under it and used a oscillating tool to cut the nails. Not quick or efficient, but got the job done.
Old 10-10-14, 07:06 PM
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when un-installing hardwood floor, in most cases, using a hammer and crowbar, working backwards, and applying pressure at the proper places(underneath the staples/nails); The tongue won't break.
But you still have to deal with removing the staples/nails stuck to it. This could be easy, or difficult, depending on the material used, and how old the installation is. But in most cases, a pair of sturdy wire clippers will be able to get a firm hold of the staple/nail and pull it out (bear in mind that these wire clippers might not clip wires so well afterwards, unless sharpened, of course).

If you want to remove the tongue on the hardwoord floor, you can use a flat screw driver or a wood chisel to separate the tongue from the hardwood along with the staples or nails used to hold the floor in place. But honestly, most wood lathe aren't very big, and without the tongue and grooves I'm not sure that you could make anything nice with it. Everything is possible though, with enough will.

Last edited by David Hache; 10-10-14 at 07:22 PM.
Old 10-10-14, 07:41 PM
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If your going to install laminate why does it need to come out? Just go right over it?
What's having two layers have to do with being able to refinish what there now?
There's no reason the majority of that old flooring can not be removed and reused for other things.
The first few rows always gets destroyed but once you can get a bar under it the most of the rest can be removed. Where ever the nail or staple is will get broken but the top will be fine.
Is start buy making two cuts along the length of the boards about 3/4" apart. Screw a screw into the middle of the board and lift up.
Now you have a place to start using a flat bar.
Once I get a few rows out I have a heavy pry bar that sits flat on the floor and is made to be hammered to get it under the boards.

Opening up a can of worms by removing the old flooring unless you go back and add the same thickness of underlayment under the new flooring.
It's going to through all the baseboards and door casings.

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