Asked on Dec 02, 2015

Removing tar paper from wood floor

by Dee
I tore up vinyl flooring and discovered stuck on tar paper over a nice wood floor. Does anyone have any ideas on how to remove the tar paper other than scraping as that still leave residue, much appreciated.
  29 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 02, 2015
    Try using mineral spirits and leave on the area for awhile. This should help loosen the paper.If you have a heatgun that would also aid in the removal.
  • Ryan Ryan on Dec 02, 2015
    Gentle heat via heat gun worked best for me, be very careful and wear gloves! You will still end up with some residue from the tar paper, but sanding will be required to finish the floor anyway.
  • Patricia Prinkey Patricia Prinkey on Dec 02, 2015
    Grab an old hair dryer and go at it. I would try spot washing with different solvents until I found what would work. Remember, tar is oil base. I had to remove laminate panels from my kitchen cupboards and my husband suggested the hair blower. Worked like a charm. I was gun ho for the heat gun and did not need it. Oil base-something as simple as oxy cleaner or tide might work.
  • Cornelia Schott Cornelia Schott on Dec 02, 2015
    Goo Gone may be an option.
  • Patty Patty on Dec 02, 2015
    Be aware that you my be dealing with asbestos. Keep it wet at all times and use a respirator. Good luck! I paid 2,000.00 to have my flooring removed. I was to chicken to do it myself.
  • Dee Dee on Dec 02, 2015
    Heat is the way to go. And good ventilation-a fan or open window. The smell as the paper heats is pretty strong.
  • Rosemary Kelly Rosemary Kelly on Dec 03, 2015
    I agree with the heat gun.
  • Kristin Topping Kristin Topping on Dec 03, 2015
    If you ever remodel the floor and want to expose the first layer in the future, you will need to remove the layer of tar paper off the surface. You can use the putty knife to scrape the tar paper off.Sections should come free by hand, but there will be areas where you will have to scrape with the knife to cut the paper away from the surface. Either rip off all the flooring there and start from scratch or go over it which would be about the same amount of work!
  • 512181 512181 on Dec 03, 2015
    You could try an old iron. Put paper over the asphalt and then use the iron. The glue on the back will soften enough to peel up paper. Also, check for your state approved asbestos testing facilities. I found one in Maryland to test some tile for $25.
  • Mandy Brown Mandy Brown on Dec 03, 2015
    I just went through this with my 1/2 bath except they were peel and stick tiles. I knew mine weren't asbestos. We used the iron method as Lynda Davis mentioned and that worked best for us. The heat gun/hair dryer worked ok, but we still had to lift up an edge of the tile and it got our tools and everything hot that was even close to it. After we got all the tile up, we were left with quite a bit of adhesive on the floor. We tried just about everything and the only thing that really worked for us was Citristrip. It's low VOC and you can leave it on the floor for up to 24 hours to allow it to dissolve the glue. As long as it doesn't dry it's good. When you test a small area and it's loosened the glue, then you take a plastic scraper and the adhesive scrapes right off. You have to go over everywhere you put the stripper and thoroughly wash it down afterward to get all the solvent off. We went over ours several times. Depending on what you plan on doing to your floors, you may have to sand them down before staining because the solvent will take off any poly you try to put down.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Dec 03, 2015
    Vinyl tile is most often not 'friable' if it has asbestos, so not a problem and you say it is up already, so don't worry. The paper and tar is you problem. The long way is to melt it off, but you are in for a long messy job. You likely will never get it all up and will end up sanding for days afterwards. I would consider sanding from the beginning or taking a piece to a good paint/hardware or vinyl flooring store store and asking what chemically might remove it. Chemically, although might be nasty to smell, will likely take it up down to the raw wood best and quickest.
  • Rus1058682 Rus1058682 on Dec 03, 2015
    Any way you go will still leave some sort of residue, since the paper is petroleum based. I would recommend LIGHTLY heating the surface and pulling the paper up.. Then you will need to wipe down the floor with something to remove the oily residue.. Hope that gave you an idea..
  • Jonnie Hammon Jonnie Hammon on Dec 03, 2015
    I would use a soft plastic scrubber, and vinegar,(the smell will disappear quickly. Soak it, let it set for awhile, then start scrubbing.
  • Jeri Walker Jeri Walker on Dec 03, 2015
    I used a wide window scraper about 4 inches wide and scraped it off I would not try and dissolve it first because then you will have a sticky mess every time you make a scrape.
  • I would put new wood floors on top!
  • Janet Janet on Dec 03, 2015
    My husband said to sand it off.
  • Lisa Mau Lisa Mau on Dec 03, 2015
    I like the idea of heating the surface, pulling up as much paper as you can, and then using something like Goo Gone to get up the residue. It would probably take a lot of Goo Gone, but that is probably less expensive than new wood flooring!
  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Dec 03, 2015
    When I worked at a asphalt plant I used WD40 to remove tar from my shoes, clothes and my floor. Get a few large cans scrape up what you can then spray what you can work on in a few minutes.
  • Thebakers47 Thebakers47 on Dec 03, 2015
    A house we bought had carpet in the kitchen. We we pulled it up it had tar paper under it. The real problem was the installer glued the carpet with a product that melted the residue from the tar paper into the wood. We had no choice but to relay new flooring over that part. No scraping or sanding would help.
  • Dee Dee on Dec 03, 2015
    Thanks everyone for the help. Now I have a few options to try. You've all been great. Happy Holidays!
    • Linda Erdmann Brown Linda Erdmann Brown on Dec 04, 2015
      Try warm water and white vinegar. I used half and half ratio on wood floor. Soak it, then take putty knife ans scrape off,after 10-20 minutes. I sprayed 4 ft x 2 ft and when I scraped, had the next area soaking. Came up great.
  • David Ogden David Ogden on Dec 03, 2015
    Use heat
  • Dale Dale on Dec 05, 2015
    Butter. you rub some butter on it , let it set a couple mins. and it will come off. May repeat the process
  • Dee Dee on Dec 05, 2015
    Hi Dale: what do I rub butter on? the tar paper? or do I rub it on the residue? Have you done this before? Thanks for your input. Any help appreciated
  • Dale Dale on Dec 06, 2015
    I guess I did not fully comprehend your question, you would rub the butter on the residue.
  • Dee Dee on Dec 07, 2015
    OK, that's what I thought but wasn't sure. Cool idea. Thanks Once I get the tar paper off I'll try it.
  • Jeri Walker Jeri Walker on Dec 07, 2015
    I have used play sand on sticky floor glue, it will make it come up easier, just do little sections at a time.
  • Dee Dee on Dec 07, 2015
    Super idea! Thanks so much! Happy Holidays!
  • Karen Girdner Karen Girdner on Jul 22, 2018

    We laid down towels and soaked them with Diet Pepsi over night. The next day we removed the towels and the tar paper scraped right off!

  • Sharon Sharon on Jul 22, 2018

    Whoa..... I would sure NOT DO a heat gun with mineral spirits.... it can combust and produce carbon monoxide. Mineral spirits and scraper; or heat gun and scraper. Better yet you rent a machine....