Asked on Nov 09, 2015

Help needed....and maybe a few prayers as well.

Cory Schaefer
by Cory Schaefer
I'm doing a total remodel on my bathroom and am finding all sorts of hurdles as I peel off more layers. I have a good idea of what it's going to be but I usually make decisions as I go. I'm doing most of this myself (don't have a lot of money hire contractors other than electrical and plumbing).
My first question is the floor. I just removed the linoleum and subfloor tonight and found black tar paper underneath. It's so old it's part of the floor. Do I have to remove all of it or can I put a thin plywood over it?? I'm planning on tiling I know I also need a backer board or concrete board.
That's one of many questions to come. Thanks everyone!!
q help needed and maybe a few prayers as well, bathroom ideas, diy, flooring, home improvement, small bathroom ideas, small home improvement projects, Some of the tar paper is still down along with many staples
Some of the tar paper is still down...along with many staples.
  21 answers
  • Justfixit Justfixit on Nov 10, 2015
    I think you should go all the way down to the floor joists and start over. It's really really hard and aggravating to try and make a floor even when the stuff under it is not even---especially if you are going to place tile there. If the floor is uneven, even by a few millimeters, your vanity will be uneven and then water can drip in unexpected ways and possibly ruin your vanity. Plus, if you have the whole floor opened up, you can make sure there are no other problems. A blogger "addicted to decorating" went through something similar and you might find a lot of help from her blog pages. I hope it goes well for you! Take care. :D

  • Franci Gilbert Franci Gilbert on Nov 10, 2015
    As long as it isn't rotten its fine, just lay wonderboard over it. pull that toilet though, just unbolt it, pull it up and then take off the wax ring. Do your tiling right up to the bolts, replace your wax ring. set your toilet back on. perfection! make sure to use wonderboard.

    • Darla Darla on Nov 10, 2015
      @Franci Gilbert This is right on. No need to scrape up all that gunk unless it's so thick that the floor's not level. You need to do this anyway to tile it.

  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Nov 10, 2015
    Is your subfloor concrete or wood? Next, if your subfloor is concrete, scrape as much off as possible. Then apply some self-leveling concrete and go from there. If it's wood, like Becky said; go to . She has some of the most comprehensive video and step by step instructions you could need. She just recently finished her bath and her floor was uneven. With her hubby Matt in a wheel chair, she tackled these projects with much success. She also shares her "don't's" as well, and why the "don't's" will not work! Good luck and keep the questions coming!

  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Nov 10, 2015 Click on tutorials/videos. Kristi is a plethora of info!

  • Marie DeSalvo Marie DeSalvo on Nov 10, 2015
    we had that in our kitchen when we decided to take up the linoleum. My husband tried everything in cleaners and scrapers. Nothing worked either. then we were told that we should try a power sander and that was the answer for us. now we have hardwood floors in our kitchen.

  • Mary Gonnion Mary Gonnion on Nov 10, 2015
    You're a brave soul! I wish you well and will be praying for y'all!

  • Katie Katie on Nov 10, 2015
    One thing I want to point out to save you from a cracking floor or sagging is first, is the floor on a concrete slab or wood? If it is not a concrete slab, one has to make sure the subfloor can adequately support the weight of the tile since it weighs more than linoleum. And, just a word of support since I go through the same thing - making hard decisions when some new issue is revealed, is IF you have to go with a vinyl product instead of tile, there are many nicer sheet tile options than before. I like the look of stone, tile and real wood, but I find myself leaning strongly towards the new vinyl sheet tiles for my kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. I'm starting to write to vinyl sheet companies, sending photos of tile floors I would like them to replicate. I also plan to cove my vinyl sheet. Coving is where the the floor is curved upward along the wall or cabinets so if there is a spill, it doesn't seep behind the wall or under the cabinets. I score the under edge of the vinyl just enough to bend it (without cracking or breaking it) and to make it fit BEHIND my lower wall wooden trim so no one sees it's coved. I do the same with the kick plate of my cabinet, I hide the coved vinyl with the kick plate (the board that covers the cabinet where it comes in contact with the floor). There are several ways to do that. Also with cabinets that have feet I just cove well under the cabinet in the space hidden against the wall. For me, I just need to be able to scrub those areas with hot water and a strong degreasing dishwashing liquid which wood or laminate wood won't tolerate for long. Plus I don't want water to seep in-between the grout of tile, or plank vinyl, even if it's sealed it will eventually do that and get under it. Might want to research this more, take your time to do it right so it lasts and your area stays clean and dry. So might want to wait to remove that toilet until you have picked out your floor material. Hang in there! I love that you are going for it. And just a note, we need a really good show or something to highlight these very issues . Functionality is VERY important for us!

  • Rebecca Eckman Farrell Rebecca Eckman Farrell on Nov 10, 2015
    I had the same problem in my house. I used a palm sander and rough paper and sanded it off. Be sure to wear a mask and keep a shop vac going to suck up dust. Good luck.

  • Paula Edmonds Paula Edmonds on Nov 10, 2015
    Good luck and my prayers are with you.

  • Cory Schaefer Cory Schaefer on Nov 10, 2015
    Thanks everyone!!! I've decided to go vinyl instead. Not my first choice but it's more functional and cheaper. Since it's my only bathroom....I need to speed up the process. I'm a FedEx delivery guy so it's going to get hectic real soon

    • See 2 previous
    • Z Z on Nov 11, 2015
      You're welcome @Cory.

  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Nov 10, 2015
    Have done a solo remodel; hurdles are normal. I had actual mushrooms growing out of the floor! Found that patience was more effective than prayer, but go with what you know! ;-)

  • Bit By Bit Shop Bit By Bit Shop on Nov 11, 2015
    Vinyl is great & easy to work with. I love the new vinyl flooring options. That said,my only thought is to consider a heated floor. It has become so very affordable. However then you would need to tile or use appropriate flooring for heated. Sometimes going for the extra cost is worth it in the long run & can add value to your home. Not to mention happy warm feet all winter! :-)

  • Anne fenske Anne fenske on Nov 12, 2015
    If this is a fungus or white rot; as some people call it; know this. It will eventually eat thru the vinyl and its toxic to you & family or friends. Now that you've ripped it down to air; it will be distributed thru the house. Get help. In Cdn we use hasmat outfits & detox . Good luck. Hope u used a mask, it can show up months later in lungs.

    • Cory Schaefer Cory Schaefer on Nov 13, 2015
      Thanks Anne.'s layers of tar paper. They used it between the sub floor and the linoleum.

  • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Nov 13, 2015
    Hi Cory, please mark your question answered so that it will not keep recycling through folks feeds.

  • Roberta Roberta on Nov 13, 2015
    Cory, remove as much loose tar paper as possible. Fill in low areas with a floor leveler. You can ask an expert at Lowes, Home Depot, or any similar home store. Ask the expert in the home store, if it's necessary to add another liner, before the new vinyl. Be sure to purchase a very good quality, as bathrooms get lots of traffic. BE SURE TO re-set your toilet properly (if floor is now thicker, plumbing may need to be adjusted. If possible to see under the flooring, be sure to replace subfloor if it is rotted. You will have peace of mind knowing you have maintained your home's value and not simply covered up a problem.)You can save money by going to Habitat's Restore & getting a used vanity. I used General Finishes, Expresso on old oak cabinets in a client's bath, made "feet", added a molding just above the feet, and added new hardware to 2 48" cabinets. A new counter top was added, and it was fabulous! After shopping in the contractor's suggested, exclusive stores, I was much more happy with what was spent re-doing the existing vanity! (I re-newed the same client's kitchen with a Maple shade of the same finish, making it not necessary to purchase all new cabinets. -- New hardware helps tons1)

  • Anne fenske Anne fenske on Nov 14, 2015
    This tar paper is used by contractors to stop cold and moisture from seeping up thru floors. U should use an underlay before u put linoleum down or it will wear out in half the time and you'll be redoing it in 5 yr. Just a word to the wise. Glad no mold; this stuff is scarey. Good luck girl.

  • Cory Schaefer Cory Schaefer on Nov 14, 2015
    Well.....I removed the sub floor and found some extensive water another hurdle. I had a carpenter friend stop and look at the floor joists and we determined that it was just part of the sub floor that was deteriorated from many years of leakage. Here we go again. 😧

    • See 1 previous
    • Hope Williams Hope Williams on Nov 17, 2015
      Hi Cory. So glad your project turned out to be a simple fix. Please mark your question as "answer satisfied" so that it will help it to stop cycling through folks pages. Let us know if we can help again.

  • Roberta Roberta on Nov 14, 2015
    So glad you checked this out & that you are properly repairing the floor. You will be happy you did. Your new flooring will last longer.

  • Anne fenske Anne fenske on Nov 15, 2015
    The tar paper is important to keep floor warm ;it acts as an insulator in winter and helps vinyl last longer. U might want to glue more down before u lay down floor. Good luck.

  • TENITA DEAL TENITA DEAL on Nov 16, 2015
    Thank God that was just tar paper.--looked worse.

  • Jacquienina Jacquienina on Jul 24, 2016
    Don't know if this helps, but I removed lino from my stairs, and the paper beneath was a bear! At first I tried chemicals, but I was unhappy with this method - scary smells, hard to ventilate a stairwell, etc. Then I read and tried this. It's miraculous! I put down old towels that I knew I could trash after (in my case, kitchen towels) and poured liberal amounts of boiled water over them. I waited 10-20 minutes and the stuff peeled off so much easier. It was messy, but I used the grungy towels to wipe it all down. When done, I went back with soapy water. Done!