Can I paint over carpet glue without killing anyone?
November 7, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Can I just paint over thick carpet glue? Other ideas for beautifying a rough-looking studio space welcome.

I've recently rented a little studio/workshop, and I'm free to fix up and decorate it however I like. The concrete floor was once carpeted, and the carpet has been removed with lots of thick carpet glue left behind. It's ugly and uninspiring. I don't want to invest tons of money or sweat equity in fixing it up, and it's not well-ventilated so I also don't want to treat it with noxious chemicals.

So, I'm thinking of just painting over the existing glue (which actually has an interesting texture) in an attractive color, and then maybe throwing a rug over that. Is there any reason this would be a bad idea?

Or any other ideas about how to cover over or beautify such an ugly floor? The room is an odd shape, so an area rug would help, but there'd still be large patches of ugly poking out.
posted by Ms. Toad to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
If you don't care about the texture issue, then no there is no reason to not just paint it with floor paint. That would be the cheapest option.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2012

If it is small, you may be able to get remnant carpet and cut it yourself to fit the odd space. My mother did this for one of out bathrooms. Regular scissors should do the trick.
posted by Michele in California at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2012

Can you buff/sand it off at all? Is it the kind of glue you might be able to steam up, either by soaking and then scraping or using a steamer of some sort? (That's how we got the ancient linoleum off of the hardwood floor in our house.) You might also want to test some of this floor paint on the glued areas to see if it will actually cover the glue spots.

Floor paint in general is a start, but if you wanted to get a wee bit fancier there are these kits for garage painting that have this sort of confetti stuff you sprinkle on top. That gives the floor a bit of a visual texture and interest that could help distract from any weird spots.

If you have a Habitat ReStore or similar nearby, they might have a ton of cheap remnant stuff like linoleum or light fixtures that you could use. Aside from an area rug, you could turn some cheap linoleum into a floor cloth or similar, which would be great if your craft work is at all messy..
posted by Madamina at 9:30 AM on November 7, 2012

The only concern I would have would be about the paint not sticking to the glue - then you'd have a real mess on your hands. So maybe test a small part first.

Other than that it sounds like a great, simple idea!
posted by thatone at 9:43 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Make the texture work for you. Floor paint it a neutral color than Pollock it.
posted by plinth at 10:31 AM on November 7, 2012

The only concern I would have would be about the paint not sticking to the glue.

That's what primer is for. Don't skip the primer.
posted by halogen at 10:44 AM on November 7, 2012

I don't see why painting it wouldn't work. But if it doesn't, you can use a floor scraper to scrape it off without chemicals.
posted by zsazsa at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would worry about the texture causing peeling. If the glue peels then the paint on top will go with it, or just if the rough edges cause the paint to peel.
posted by anaelith at 11:18 AM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was just faced with the same situation. Studio space with a rough concrete floor that had old paint that was peeled up in some places. After realizing that scraping up the old paint might create a whole new set of problems environmentally, I decided to just get carpet tiles. I got a very small number of carpet tiles from Flor and then laid those out in a square top of the rough concrete floor. I even left a gap between the tiles and the wall so the rough floor below is exposed a bit, which works nicely against the colorful tiles. So, the tiles are a bit like an area rug, but I like that I can pack them up into a fairly small box once I move out, or replace them individually if one gets damaged.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:36 AM on November 7, 2012

anaelith has it right. That carpet glue isn't meant for direct foot contact and will start to flake/peel/dustify once it's walked on. You need to get it off before painting, or securely seal it to the floor before painting. Anything else will be a mess.

I know ventilation is tight, but there are floor sanders that keep the dust way down now. Perhaps rent one, or find a flooring contractor that can give you a quick sand-down?
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2012

Painted concrete has a nice esthetic, and scraping up what you can, then priming & painting would probably be okay. It it chips & peels, you'll have to sweep more often. You could also consider paper bag floor covering. 1 layer is plenty, and it can be varnished for a leather-y look and easy cleanup.
posted by theora55 at 1:59 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about FLOR carpet tiles? The old glue might actually help keep them on!
posted by dottiechang at 11:36 PM on November 7, 2012

These are all very helpful suggestions. Thanks, all!
posted by Ms. Toad at 6:14 AM on November 8, 2012

The snap-together fake wood floors from IKEA are actually relatively cheap, and easy to install...
posted by three_red_balloons at 4:27 PM on November 8, 2012

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