Stripping Glue
April 27, 2010 6:30 AM   Subscribe

What equipment and chemicals do I need to strip carpet glue and paint off of a cement/concrete floor?

My sewer backed up and necessitated the removal of two rooms worth of carpet. I peeled the carpet back already, but now I need to get the glue and the three layers of paint off of the floor underneath (I think!) to prepare the floor for the installation of some sort of engineered flooring (bonus points: What type of flooring should I and my tight finances install here?)

I'm a new homeowner, so many tools that might prove necessary here are ones I haven't acquired yet. What do I need to accomplish this?
posted by ChrisR to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
After trying to use a bunch of toxic chemicals to get rid of glue and paint, Mr. Peter Petridish and I found that renting a belt sander and using that is a billion times easier. It generates a lot of dust (invest in a good dust mask), but the lack of fumes in an inclosed space is a plus.

I can understand getting rid of the glue to make the floor flat, but is there a reason for wanting to get the paint off before you cover it up with flooring?
posted by Peter Petridish at 6:45 AM on April 27, 2010

we used muriatic acid when we redid our theatre floor. This is concentrated hydrochloric acid and it is extremely toxic but very effective. Use it only as a last resort.

Our decision to use this was based on two factors. One - we had heavy construction in there which had resulted in oil & paint stains on the concrete which we couldn't scrape off and two - our final plans involved staining and polishing the concrete and keeping that as our final floor finish. Which turned out quite lovely, but may not be appropriate for a basement floor.

If you do decide to use muriatic acid make sure you have proper ventilation, face masks, take frequent breaks and triple check that the floor drains are clean and free running (before you start).
posted by valoius at 7:35 AM on April 27, 2010

As far as I know, you can find engineered flooring that "floats" on top of your sub-floor the way laminate does. You wouldn't need to strip paint to put down something like that (or probably even the kind that nails down, as long as the sub-floor is flat- although you'd need something to nail to in that case, like a plywood layer).

For the glue, you might try Goof Off. It does a good job on lots of different stuff like that. The belt sander would certainly work as well. For that matter, you might be able to chip it off with a stout putty knife or a floor scraper. But if it's not creating a really uneven floor, you might be able to just leave it, especially if you're going to put in a plywood layer.
posted by Shohn at 7:40 AM on April 27, 2010

When we stripped carpet glue off of our basement floor we tried sanding first. But the belts justs kept gumming up and were useless after a few feet. Scraping was semi effective but back breaking. As a last resort we tried a low fume stripper. I think it was called Citrus Strip or something like that. Smelled like oranges without much for fumes. It worked well in combination with a scraper. Do small sections at a time, let it sit long enough to work but not dry out, and have lots of paper towels and a trash bag handy for cleaning the gooey result off of your scraper. Cleaning the floor with mineral spirits or whatever afterward will ensure it isn't sticky. We still etched our concrete with a dilute solution of muriatic acid before painting the concrete. Good luck.
posted by stubborn at 8:32 AM on April 27, 2010

We used Goof Off as well as a floor scraper to get all the glue off. It was really hard work.
posted by speedymarie at 10:50 AM on April 27, 2010

Concrete? Rent a bead-blaster and just remove the top layer and start fresh. No chemicals, but a heck of a mess from all the dust.
posted by DaveP at 1:50 PM on April 27, 2010

Response by poster: Along the same vein, what's a reasonable substitute for a shop-vac, if I go the Goof-Off/Nature's Way approach?
posted by ChrisR at 7:19 PM on April 27, 2010

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