Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our Asbestos Adventure: What NOT to Do When Remodeling - Part 2

Catch up on Part 1 here.

Anyways, we grabbed our carpet cutting blades and set out to get down to work. We sliced up the carpet in spots, and then grabbed a corner and started pulling... and was astounded at what we found.

We started pulling back the carpet, only to realize that the carpet was - are you ready for this? - GLUED down onto tiles! We were just... speechless. I mean, really - who GLUES down their carpet?! No wonder nobody replaced the carpet or even had it professionally cleaned after the basement flooded - because they didn't want to deal with carpet that was stinkin' GLUED down!

In this picture Tom is pulling back the carpet to reveal beige tiles underneath.

Our first solution (after recovering from the shock of it all), was to just try to pry off the carpet while keeping the tiles intact, and then we could just install the new carpet (and carpet pad - the previous carpet had no carpet pad underneath, which was very, um, hard and not comfortable) overtop of the existing tiles.

But of course that plan wouldn't work out for us - that would be too easy!

As we continued pulling and tugging (and cursing the previous homeowners, but we're not naming any names here) to get the carpet off the tiles, we realized that some of the time the tiles would break up and come up with the carpet.

Apparently they used some sort of superman-strength super-glue to glue that lovely carpet down to the tiles! Or at least that's what it seemed like to us.

So our plan went completely out the window. So much for saving tons of backbreaking labor - thanks to some of the tiles coming up, we now had to completely remove ALL the tiles (which covered the whole basement - around 800 sq. feet of it). If we didn't remove all the tiles for an even surface before installing the new carpet, as you walked across the carpet you would be able to feel the height difference when you stepped in a spot that had a missing tile. Lovely, right? Yeahhh.

So we invested in a long-handled tool that would help get those pesky floor tiles out. However, it was still long, hard, backbreaking work.

First off, these tiles were old-fashioned vinyl adhesive tiles, and back in the days of the 1970's they used a type of super-sticky yellowish mastic to adhere them to the floor. Which held up great - to our dismay. Yep, those tiles were nearly impossible to get out - and over the 40ish years that they've been installed, the yellow mastic slowly turned into a springy, black rubbery-type floor covering.

I kid you not. It was like we had black rubber completely covering the basement under those tiles. It even smelled like rubber when we would accidentally gouge it with our tile-demo tool.

In this photo you can see all 3 layers of flooring - the blue carpet, the beige tiles, and the black mastic. You can also see how the tiles are breaking up into tiny pieces and tile dust is floating in the air. Our floor-tile-demo tool is leaning against the wall on the left.

So all that rubberish-mastic made using our tile-floor-demo tool very difficult, because it's mostly made for smooth, hard underlying floor, so the metal strip can slide underneath any tiles and with a little pressure can just pop those babies out. But for us, all it really did (when it wasn't getting caught on the rubbery mastic), was break off little tiny pieces of tile, a little at a time. Tons of tile dust was also flying through the air, as well, which was lots of fun, especially considering it smelled like we were working in a tire factory the whole time. Which, I suppose, was probably a slight improvement over the mold-induced headaches we used to get down there.

Did I mention it was horrifying and backbreaking work? Oh, that's right, I already mentioned that.

So for weeks, we would pull up the carpet and then go to town with the tile-demo tool, everynight after work, usually for hours at a time until around midnight. We'd go to bed sore and aching, and repeat it all the next day. Let's just say it was.not.fun. And since we didn't have a dumpster, everynight we'd sweep all the little tile bits and put them into trash bags and throw them in the backyard until trash day when we could throw a few bags away.

Since we were new to the neighborhood, we liked to imagine (during all those long and difficult hours down there tearing out tiles) what all the neighbors were saying about us - we were sure it wasn't anything good, but probably pretty funny stuff.

Eventually, we got about 80% of the tiles tore out of the basement, and things were looking good. We didn't have much left to do, and were excited since we'd been at it for weeks now.

We could see the light at the end of the tunnel... until everything came to a complete and utter stop, and we were absolutely terrified.

Read part 3 here!

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  1. Who glues down carpet ... lots of people in the 60's and 70's. Our last house had orange carpet in the kitchen (gawd) and it was glued down. Looking forward to the next part.

  2. We had glued down carpet squares in our last house (attached to hardwood floors!) I remember scraping and scraping them. Can't wait for your next installment!

  3. Terrified? Well you definitely have my interest piqued!


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