The kitchen floor in our 1860 New England house has many layers. I count 5. We would like to replace the current floor. It's starting to break in many places and we hate it. Below our current floor is a subfloor with a lot of adhesive. Below that is old hardwood (or maybe pine) floor that was painted and has lead.

How should we approach this? Can we take away the first layer, scrape of the old adhesive and reuse the subfloor to ensure that the lead painted floor remains covered? Or would you recommend a different approach?

ps: We are still testing the subfloor for asbestos in the adhesive but I think the kitchen was last done in 2004.

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  • 1
    You may have squeaks, but I'll bet there's not a lot of bounce! Those bottom 3 layers, at least, all run the same direction to all for expansion & contraction of the wood without the boards breaking & warping.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 20, 2020 at 16:06
  • The stone and mortar surface breaking up is a sign of movement. Yes all those layers are strong but if not well anchored together can cause problems with a new floor.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 21, 2020 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


I bet that floor squeaks really bad, I would be surprised if it doesn’t when you pull the stone and mortar. The reason the floor is breaking up is from movement.

Yes you can leave the lead paint it will be covered so there is no risk, the stone and mortar flooring , I have never tested that for asbestos because that would be uncommon.

I would remove the floor and sub floor at a minimum possibly even the next layer and redeck using t&g plywood this will be needed if you want to tile to prevent the new floor from doing the same as the current floor. If putting down vinyl I would still re deck but I hate squeaky floors and am a really big guy.

  • Thanks. Doesn't removing the subfloor potentially create a lot of lead dust? Same goes for the layer below subfloor, which is painted and has lead. Jun 21, 2020 at 14:21
  • There really won’t be that much dust just don’t lick the floor, if you have a high concern damp mop to pick up any loose material in a home that old every surface that has paint will have lead below the surface when I am sanding I use a dust mask , the lead is not like asbestos fibers that float around and lead is not good to breathe you can over lay but I would take a layer or two off.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 21, 2020 at 15:06
  • Thanks. We will look into removing the floor layer with lead paint. Jun 22, 2020 at 19:11

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