When my husband and I finally took possession of our new home we discovered a gem: finished hardwood floors underneath nasty carpet in our entire upstairs. We knew we wanted to tear out the carpet as soon as possible, and after hours of stripping wallpaper, priming and painting, we were ready. The results were great in our daughter’s bedroom, and not so shabby in the hall and the master bedroom. Then we discovered the floor in our son’s bedroom.
What a mess.
The hardwood looked fine, but a different kind of rubbery carpet padding had been used in the room. And instead of coming right up, most of the padding was cemented to the floor.
At first, I tried to pick off the padding that could come off easily.
Once I finished that stage, I tried spraying a mixture of one part vinegar to one part hot water. It did absolutely nothing.
Then I tried scraping off any matted padding with a plastic joint compound spreader. For hours. All of the rough, repetitive motion left the muscles, joints, and bones in my fingers, hand, wrist, arm, and back in pain.
What was left was the truly stuck-on padding. It looked a lot like someone had spread on gallons of refried beans and baked them onto the floor. Unfortunately, there was almost no way to scrape this remainder off the floor.
I was starting to contemplate carpeting the room, so I searched online for padding removal ideas.
Fortunately I found one message board from other homeowners who dealt with the same hideous kind of carpet padding that stuck on hardwood floors. It was after I read their solutions that I decided to try very un-green, very unhealthy solutions. (Forgive me, readers.) And they worked.
My husband wanted me to try Goof-Off, a can full of toxins (like xylene) that gave me a headache as soon as I opened it. It worked, but it also removed the stain – which I didn’t want. I couldn’t stand the fumes, so stopped using it.
Next I tried a combination of one part hot water and one part ammonia. Ick. (Yes, I know ammonia irritates eyes, noses, and throats, and can even cause burns and respiratory problems if the exposure is too great. After I developed pneumonia a month after this home improvement project, I wonder if the room and sickness have any connection.) I used a breathing mask and rubber gloves and wiped it on the stubborn areas.
After letting it set for ten minutes, I scrubbed it off with a scrubber sponge, chiseled it off with the joint compound spreader, and wiped it off with a rag. Then I repeated, and repeated, and repeated. It still was a very long process, but it was effective.
Once my hand and arm pain was pretty unbearable and the toughest spots were left, I simply tried melting the padding off the floor with a blow dryer on high. It was the greenest solution at this stage, and it worked like a charm.
I was able to scrape the cemented parts off like Silly Putty, then I wiped the residue off with the ammonia and water mixture.
In the end, it took twenty-six hours of labor to clean the padding off the entire floor. It was brutal. But I finished the floor.