I'm in the middle of remodeling my half bathroom and have run into a sticky situation with the existing flooring. My goal is to remove it and refinish the flooring beneath, much like has been done for the rest of the house.
The old flooring is made up of a few layers. From top to bottom:
- 9" x 9" vinyl tiles
- black mastic/glue
- 9" x 9" wood/mdf/plywood-like squares. These are about as thin as the vinyl tiles.
- Putty colored clay-like material. Seems like it may act as both an adhesive and a leveler.
- Fir flooring
I began removing layers 1-4 and found that they were particularly easy to pull up around the perimeter of the room. Using a heavy-duty angled paint stripper and a hammer, I was able to pull everything up within the span of a few minutes.
The middle section is another story however. It's hard to even get an edge under the wood squares. The construction and layering looks similar to that of the edges, though the edges may have had a different kind of adhesive for the 4th layer (it looks a little darker).
This 4th layer material may be somewhat water soluble (with hot water at least), but it's hard to get the water underneath the wood-like layer. I've tried flooding the wood layer with hot water but it isn't particular effective.
The flooring was installed in 1949, which is a little before asbestos was heavily used. There's still a reasonable chance of it existing in the vinyl tiles and the first layer of mastic (layer 2) so precautions are being taken (approved respirator, eye protection, disposable clothing, dampening of everything to keep the dust level down, proper disposal of materials, etc). That being said, I consider sanding to be out of the question at this point, though the top vinyl layer and mastic could be fairly easily removed first if need be.
How might I more effectively remove this flooring?
I'm beginning to think that the 4th layer might actually be extremely old vinyl tiles, meaning that the mastic between them and the wood flooring is what's tripping me up.