Ruined oak floor

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We have pulled the carpeting up out of our house and have found an unpleasant surprise.
A previous owner apparently put down some type of tile on top of the wood floor. when we pulled up the carpet, we found the adhesive (mortar, mastic, whatever!). Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to remove this material? I know there are chemicals that can be used, but I have pets and would be a little concerned about fumes.
Thanks for any help you folks can offer!
q ruined oak fllor , flooring, hardwood floors, home maintenance repairs, minor home repair
  44 answers
  • William William on Sep 26, 2016
    I would scrape off as much as I could. Then I would saturate the adhesive with Goo Gone and let it sit testing it to see if it softens. Then scrape and wipe into newspapers. The floor may need sanding and finishing after the adhesive is removed.
  • Pam Lewandowski Pam Lewandowski on Sep 26, 2016
    ^^^^ Yes, but please remember to scrap in the same direction of the grain! Best of luck!!
    • Barbara Tremain Dodge Barbara Tremain Dodge on Sep 26, 2016
      Thanks, Pam. I do wood turning and a little wood carving so I know what going against the grain can do! I've made a few mistakes in my carving that way.
  • Jackie Byrd Jackie Byrd on Sep 26, 2016
    If you can't go the chemical route, then you'll have to sand it off. While it looks like a nightmare, remember it is only on the surface. Once you remove it, a sanding then refinish and your back to a gorgeous hardwood floor. (It could have been gouged, screwed, nailed, chopped up, etc.). Please let us know your solution and post a picture of the restored floor.
    • Barbara Tremain Dodge Barbara Tremain Dodge on Sep 26, 2016
      You are so right, Jackie! It's about 1/8" thick, but it seems a lot thicker. I was hoping that I could hammer it with a ball peen hammer to crack it up and scrape it off, but it really didn't help.
  • Linda Santo Linda Santo on Sep 26, 2016
    I doubt it's ruined. Those older oak floors are tougher than you'd think. I'd try hot water first. It may not be glue BUT just the backing "stuck" to the finish of the floor. Water won't hurt wood unless you leave it long enough to soak through. Test on an edge spot and see if you can just scrape it off. On second look since it's only in 1 spot, my guess it was some type of rubber door mat that "melted" on the floor. Worth a try.
    • See 2 previous
    • Barbara Tremain Dodge Barbara Tremain Dodge on Sep 27, 2016
      Right, grout was the wrong term to use. Thanks for the reminder!
  • William William on Sep 26, 2016
    Sanding it would be costly and a waste. The friction caused by sanding would just gum up the sandpaper immediately and take forever.
  • As mentioned above - scrape with the grain then sand once the bulk is gone with a real floor sander or an orbital sander I am not sure I would try using any chemicals as it could prevent the stain from adhering. If you wish to try that route I would go to a woodworking supply house & see what they might recommend (and always test in an inconspicuous spot)
  • Sterling Topping Sterling Topping on Sep 27, 2016
    You might also try using a hair dryer to soften the adhesive and then try scraping it off. If it works, do a little every day and eventually you will have gotten enough off that you can then sand off the rest and then repair as needed.
  • Jim L Jim L on Sep 27, 2016
    Hmmm...so many good suggestions...I would use a putty knife, a heat gun and hammer. Heat a small portion, use the hammer to help the putty knife. They after about 15-20 minutes sit down, have a glass of wine and tell yourself that in the end it all will be worth all of this! Good luck...
  • Elizabeth DeWolf Elizabeth DeWolf on Sep 27, 2016
    If you really can't get it up , why not cover it with a throw rug that's compatible with your decor ? Don't know what part of the country you hail from, but here in the Northeast it's a necessary addition to every door Step and entry / foyer ! With today's Products, there must be something safe to use ! Or you could try a solution of white vinegar and water, which works on most adhesives I've Used it on ! Non-toxic and effective !
  • In another home in the 1980's I decided to remove the tile from the dinette area floor and of course I found the black cement glue. I used a scrapper only. It took me weeks to do because I worked, so I'd come home and do a little every day. After the glue was gone I hired a floor sander to sand and stain the floor. It looked beautiful and I was happy I did the work. I'm not sure it would be to your advantage to heat the glue as I think it will make it more difficult to remove. Hopefully you can chip a lot of it away with a scraper. Good luck.
  • Laurie Laurie on Sep 27, 2016
    Grind it down with a rotary multi-tool (we used one to remove old residue from a tile removal project. Then sand and refinish the floor. If it doesn't all come off, you'll need to replace that section of hardwood.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Sep 27, 2016
    All good suggestions. You cannot just remove it all at first chemically as it is too much material. You will need a fanny cushion/ towel or some knee pads a good sharp putty knife (4-6")/ chisel, (maybe), hammer, heat gun/hair dryer and some patience. You can get that done in about 1-2 hours total if you relax and have the patience. Then use a chemical remover and/or sand and refinish. If you use a chemical it won't hurt the pets if you put them in another room for couple hours and keep the space ventilated the odors will be gone in a couple hours.
  • Karen Karen on Sep 27, 2016
    I had an expert advise me when I had this at my first home. If it is the color of like pale brown it is water soluble, soak it with wet sponge and just scrape off. Otherwise you can purchase a chemical solvent. Then sand.
  • Steve Steve on Sep 27, 2016
    Be careful!!! The adhesive and the tile you removed may contain asbestos. Have a qualified Asbestos inspector take samples. I am a licensed Il. Home Inspector.
  • Eileen Eileen on Sep 27, 2016
    There is a product called Beano that removes mastic. It is made with soy beans and is non toxic. I used it to remove carpet adhesive, it is a little pricey but no smell an non toxic (I have 3 cats & a dog) I got it on line a few years ago, sorry I can't be more precise.
  • Robin Robin on Sep 27, 2016
    Soak little sections with hot water. Much elbow grease.
  • Flo Flo on Sep 27, 2016
    sometimes dry ice will cause the mastic to flake off.
  • Wowhavs Wowhavs on Sep 27, 2016
    Look at Goof Off at Lowe's
  • Lana Lana on Sep 27, 2016
    I had the same situation like yours I used a scraper, lot of scraping in the right direction very carefully to protect flooring,vacuuming up the dust as you go along.
  • Celia Gonzales-Diaz Celia Gonzales-Diaz on Sep 27, 2016
    This happened to me, I broke up what I could then rented a sander and went to town. Worked great just a little lighter than the rest of the floor, but with a carpet at the door no one notices.
  • AElfgiure Willowmoon AElfgiure Willowmoon on Sep 27, 2016
    Try a heat gun before you scrape - that saved us when we were really getting frustrated with tile removal.
  • Crystal Meyer Griffith Crystal Meyer Griffith on Sep 27, 2016
    Determining what kind of stuff this is will help you decide what route to take. Does it look like a rubbery compound or more like a cement compound? See if you can chip up a small piece; place in water. Dissolve, float or no reaction. Go from there and get advice from a flooring company as to best way to remove. We had mastic on our floor and it came right up with water!
  • Justin Justin on Sep 27, 2016
    Scrape, goof off, sand, stain and apply top coat
  • Sally-Charles Evans Sally-Charles Evans on Sep 27, 2016
    My hint for you (unless you're 7 years old) Put a nice stout screw on mop handle on your scraper! It REALLY saves the knees! And the heat gun helps too!
  • Ohd2258886 Ohd2258886 on Sep 27, 2016
    Watch "Rehab Addict" on hgtv with nicole curtis. she has refinished floors like this on her show several times. This looks like some of the different materials she has removed.
  • Deb Deb on Sep 27, 2016
    A heat gun and use a plastic scraper so that you don't gouge your floor.
  • Tess van Dijk Tess van Dijk on Sep 27, 2016
    Try using a hammer lightly to loosen the mortar. Then a heavy duty plastic scraper. Then sand, stain (?) and seal the area. You may have to sand the entire floor to get it to match. Good luck.
  • Stephen Canas Stephen Canas on Sep 27, 2016
    There is a grout stripper that you have to use. Then sand smooth resurface, stain and finish.
  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Sep 27, 2016
    Hot water will do the trick.
  • Cindy Cindy on Sep 27, 2016
    Rent a wallpaper steamer to soften mastic. Then use plastic scraper and lots of patience. Once it was almost all off, I texted photo to my floor guy who confirmed they could sand off the rest. Dry ice used with care might freeze the mastic enough to have it chunk off but steaming was much more efficient. Good luck.
  • Ese8934807 Ese8934807 on Sep 27, 2016
    Had same problem so just grab a pillow and have a seat on floor ,need a plastic scraper and a hammer tap scraper lightly from side with hammer take your time don't rush
  • Stephen Canas Stephen Canas on Sep 28, 2016
    This looks like hard grout. Hot water won't work. Break up the grout lightly with a hammer from the edge of the grout and not the top. Use Jasco striper on the remaining grout. Sand and resurface the floor, Homer Formbees refinishing stain and finishing, make sure you match the stain color with a professional at the home depot.
  • Barbara Barbara on Sep 28, 2016
    is it mastic, grout or thinset? Looks more like thinset to me and that 's basically concrete
    • Stephen Canas Stephen Canas on Sep 30, 2016
      No concrete is very different grout is grit rock and sand. She is going to have to use an emulsifier to loosen it and then a scraper and wide blade masson chizsel or Brick cutter chizsel to get it out. And don't tap hard whatever you do tap lightly from the edge of the thinset to get it off and so you don't mar the wood. Ty Barbara for reminding me of what the tile adherant was called! could not think of it for the life of me.
  • Diane Hesseman Diane Hesseman on Sep 28, 2016
    I would try chipping it off with a good strong putty knife and a mallet. Once it's mostly off I would sand it with an electric sander. If it didn't match the rest of then floor you could paint that area to look like a rug using a stencil. Good luck!
  • Elf7309285 Elf7309285 on Sep 29, 2016
    I would try to use a hairblower, the heat should soften up the glue. Then try to scrape it away with a plastic scraper.
  • Stephen Canas Stephen Canas on Sep 30, 2016
    Man they really messed that floor up and didn't do the tile work correctly in the first place. You use concrete board first then outline it with framing and then on the concrete board you do the thinset and tile with spacing and then grout and wait for dry and then sealer. If you were going to put tile in again for the entry way. Where did they get the guy from to do the tile monterrey Mexico?
    • Barbara Tremain Dodge Barbara Tremain Dodge on Sep 30, 2016
      Oh Stephen, you have no idea how messed up some of the work in this house is/was! The previous owner thought he could do it all without professional help. He was wrong. The electrical wiring was a nightmare. Fortunately, I knew someone.
  • Barbara Barbara on Sep 30, 2016
    Stephen, apparently you misread what I wrote. I didn't say grout is concrete. Grout is what you put between the tiles after you are finished laying the floor. Thinset is a thin latex blend of cement. Thinset is used to lay the tiles on the floor. But since I don't know what was there before, I can only go on the look of the picture - and that looks like thinset because of the grooves - not mastic.
    • Paul M Paul M on Oct 08, 2016
      Thinset is a type of grout, Stephen is right about that. Cementious products are all very similar.
  • Karen Silman Karen Silman on Oct 01, 2016
    It looks like the very old rubber backing of a rug try using faberic softener after it has soaked a while then use a scraper to take it off the floor.