Removing 30 year old linoleum

So if the carpet removal in four rooms and the hallways took about an hour, how long will it take to get the 30 year old linoleum out of the kitchen?

Dining Room with Linoeum

Actually this is two layers of linoleum – and don’t forget we laid a nice new parquet wood floor over the top of both of these just a few months prior to this exercise. Here is one more before look.

Dining Room Wood

So how long? The answer is a very long time. As of today we are still not finished. We demolished and rebuilt the entire bathroom and the kitchen floor is still needing some “final scraping”. But we did get it about 90% complete and we may say at some point that it is finished… That will depend on the new floor installation as we look forward to that.

We started the removal by removing the base boards. We were then able to take our pole scrapers and cut under the wood floor and the first layer of linoleum. This came out in roles as we cut the edges and rolled both floors together like a big carpet role. While it took what seemed like several hours, we eventually got down to the nice yellow and orange 70’s floor. This was the beginning of the end. I would give this first part (the top two layers) a 6 on the level of manual effort involved. There was a lot of cutting with a long pole scraper that needed to be sharpened with the grinder and a lot of manual rolling the floor, which was fairly heavy.

Once it was complete, we looked long and hard at the final layer that had the 30 year old hard glue melting it into the floor boards. We took one look at it and called it a day and went home. The next day, all refreshed and ready for a long hard day of manual scraping we started nice and early and it did not take too long before we abandoned the kitchen and started on the bathroom. We soon found out the bathroom had the same time harden 70s flooring in there as well.

So we scraped and scratched, and scraped some more. After uncovering a 10 or maybe on the outside 20 square feet area of the floor, we decided that it was time for a bon fire to burn some of the yard waste and to clean up some of the brush. As we enjoyed the outdoors we discussed the notion that somewhere on this earth someone had to run into this situation before and they probably had a solution to our problem – if we just knew the right folks to ask. We enjoyed the afternoon outdoors and called it a day.

It was several days before we made it back to the house for another “work day”. Before we came back we made a trip into town to Lowes, or as our 4 year old calls it L-O-W-E-S. I stopped in the nations tool rental center and asked him if he had some kind of floor scraper that would remove 30 year old yellow and orange 70’s style linoleum. The guy didn’t even flinch, he walked me over to the corner and promptly introduced me to what we now affectionately call “The Machine”. For as little as 60 bucks for the day along with an extra blade and a few other floor scraping accessories, we could load up The Machine and take it to our house. I was loading it in the van before the cash register could complete the transaction.

Floor Scraper

I should probably explain a little bit about The Machine. First it was a rental. This means that I still have no idea how it was suppose to work, because there were several broken pieces which I fixed, several times. Next this contraption had a 50 pound weight sitting on the front of it above the nice sharp cutting blade. It was electric powered, although it made the noise of a Harley. The directions say do not put weight on the blade, but let the machine role on the back wheels across the floor.

All this produces is a floor with a few deep gouges in it every few inches. It did not remove the floor at all. A quick aside, you notice the nice padded gloves in the picture. This was not because it was cold. This thing was a jack hammer, with a blade and wheels. You would think with all the noise and vibration that the floor would jump up and run out of the house. But no… not this floor. It actually wanted a tool that could remove it. Not just make noise and vibrate the brains out of the operator.

kitchen floor scrapping

Never the less, I discovered that if you did indeed lift the machine off the back wheels and put the full weight of the machine on the chopping blade that it did actually remove some flooring… about 5 inches at a time. 5 inches is better than no inches so we proceeded to spend the day being vibrated around the kitchen by this massive electronic jack hammer with wheels until we could not see any more of the 70’s yellow and orange.

That is not to say the floor was removed. That’s just to say that the top layer had been scraped off. Somehow, while we were getting this top layer we also managed to get several nail heads from the sub floor as well. Of course they wouldn’t be cut off The Machine would just jam on them and not move past them, until you stopped the machine, straightened the blade, and beat the nail back down into the floor board.

Of course as soon as you start the vibrathon machine back up it promptly vibrates the nails back up out of the floor. So this is how the day progressed and how we arrived at a mostly stripped floor at the end of a long day.

empty kitchen

Unfortunately we only had the machine for one 24 hour period so we started the next day nice and early and went over the high places once more which is how we have arrived at a floor that is about 90% scraped and ready for flooring. But before we return this industrial strength beast we still have the small matter of the bathroom. It was just as stubborn as the kitchen, but at least it was small… then again it was small. Did I mention that The Machine was over three feet front front to back?

That’s right just a little smaller than the average width of a small bathroom. We did find a second use for The Machine however, … if your ever looking for a quick method of removing a toilet let me know and I’ll tell you about it. Ok so we didn’t quit resort to using The Machine to break apart the toilet, but I thought the thing was going to vibrate in two before we were finished.

bathroom no floor

We made it through a fairly tough day. I’d have to rate this one about an 8 for physical exertion, manual labor, and endurance. The machine was heavy and the vibration for wearisome. In the end, we were very thankful for having been introduced to The Machine. If you ever need to remove your 1970’s flooring, make a trip down to the local tool rental place and tell them you’d like to meet The Machine. I’d recommend it above all the other tools I found for this job. Oh wait, there weren’t any!

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