On Labor Day, we ripped up the linoleum in the foyer. I was pretty sure that it was going to take a few hours to get it all up but it actually wasn’t that bad. I could tell from the step into the family room that the linoleum was glued to a sheet of luan (1/4″ thin plywood).
Since I’ve never installed linoleum or sheet vinyl, I assumed that you spread the glue all over the floor and then you roll the linoleum out over the glue and staple it into the corners to hold until it dries. I was so wrong. Whoever installed the linoleum, only applied glue to the perimeter of the room. Once we pried the edges loose, we were able to cut the linoleum into sizable sheets using a utility knife.
The real work was removing the luan sheets from the subfloor. You would think that only stapling the sheets down on the perimeter would be enough to keep the luan in place.
They used about a million staples in the center of the sheets to hold things down. We used a pry bar to lift the sheets through the staples leaving the staples in the subfloor. At least we thought it was the subfloor. Turns out there is more linoleum. This was five times uglier than the floor we just pulled up.
We also found an old heat register at the bottom of the stairs.
Then I discovered something else. This linoleum was also glued to a sheet of plywood that wasn’t the subfloor. If you look at the disgusting photo below, you will see the layers. From the looks of things, the actual subfloor didn’t look to be in the greatest condition.
At this point I had decided to remove all the flooring and start from scratch. This meant more demolition.
The second layer of linoleum was likely installed in the 60’s or 70’s so I sent a sample off to test for Asbestos in the adhesive or the actual linoleum. It took less than a week for the results to come back and I was given the all clear that the linoleum was free of asbestos.
Rather than scraping up the linoleum and making a huge mess, I opted to cut the floor into smaller pieces and pry them up with the linoleum still attached to the plywood. I set the depth on my circular saw to just clear the plywood without cutting the subfloor.
When we got the first section up, we realized that the plywood supporting the linoleum was shimmed with strips of wood paneling and roofing tiles. I don’t know what the heck the installers were thinking but I finally found out why there were little humps and valleys in the floor.
We continued to pry the floor up in sections until we just couldn’t pry any more. With only two pieces of flooring remaining, we took a break.
I did notice that the subfloor has a lot of high and low spots. I need to figure out how to fix this so we can get this project done.
I will likely need to remove the entire subfloor and build from the joists up. The space is small enough that it will require only 4 sheets of plywood.
With the recent developments, I’ve revised our game plan.
1. Replace the subfloor with new, strong plywood.
2. Level the subfloor with self leveling cement and metal lath.
3. Install underlayment and vapor barrier.
4. Install unfinished Oak flush with the adjoining rooms.
5. Sand, stain and seal the floors.
I’m checking daily on Craigslist and my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for about 125 sq. ft of unfinished or prefinished Oak flooring. If I don’t find anything in the next week, I’m going to buy some premium prefinished Oak from Home Depot or Lowes and sand and install that. I know they sell unfinished but the grade is “common” and likely to have a ton of imperfections.
I’ll check back in with you guys soon with more updates.