Found the original hardwood floors under some old tile I was tearing up for a kitchen renovation, and wondering how best to patch and refinish them. There's construction glue they used under the concrete board all over the place, and under that some interesting old flooring that's a very thin layer of something plastic-ish over what looks like burlap fabric. The place was built in the early 1920s, and the tile was put on in the early 90s. I have no idea what happened between those years.

For the patching I was thinking either:

  1. Get some more maple (it's standard 2 1/4" tongue and groove) and try to do a tie in. Probably would have to cut off the tongue/groove across most of it and rely on adhesive to keep it in place
  2. Just make cuts to even things out on either side of that gap and patch in, accepting that the patch will be very visible.

Better alternatives would be very much appreciated.

As for the stuff left over on the floors, I'm not sure what it is or how to get it off. I was thinking a manual floor scraper (I will have a lot of sanding to do anyway, not afraid of adding some scratches) but I don't know what that material is and would rather not do guesswork trying out a bunch of tools. I imagine a sander will struggle and gum up frequently until I get down to the wood.

Photos below for clarity. Thanks for your time and advice. enter image description here enter image description here

  • "but I don't know what that material is and would rather not do guesswork trying out a bunch of tools" if you don't know what the material is, then what do you expect from us? another guess??
    – Solar Mike
    May 9, 2023 at 7:27
  • 1
    Be aware that some vintages of vinyl have asbestos in the backing. Sanding this without extraordinary protection is a bad choice (and even illegal in some countries). You can have samples tested to find out what you have. May 9, 2023 at 11:44
  • Today's wood dimensions and the wood dimensions from a long time ago are quite different. 2x4s in your house are probably 2x4, the same 2x4 today is 1 1/2 by 3 1/2. Just something to be aware of.
    – crip659
    May 9, 2023 at 11:46
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    The old sheet, the backing and the mastic are all "possible asbestos contaminated" things, here. Or it might be boring old "real linoleum" with no asbestos. Lab test is the only way to tell.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 9, 2023 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


You may have to try a bunch of tools anyway, to see what works best for your particular situation/products.

...After the asbestos testing.

I personally found a carbide blade manual scraper most effective on a somewhat similar mess. Steel blades would dull in no time flat.

As for the hole in the floor, don't merely accept that it will be very visible, revel in it. Make it a feature. It's going to be darn-near impossible to hide effectively, so slap in some walnut parquet or other "bold contrasty thing" rather than try and "blend" it.

Other than the downside of it going out of style in 6 months, you could do one of those currently trendy "river table things" right there in that hole in your floor and end up with it full of epoxy.

You could put in some insanely overpriced (or not) tile, because it's a small area and thus insanely overpriced doesn't cost a lot.

You could have a tiny patch of natural cork flooring.

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