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Robert Lamoureux: How to remove damaged wood flooring

Your Home Improvements

Posted: September 18, 2009 10:36 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Mr. Lamoureux,
Congratulations on your 100th column. I have a question about my wood flooring that is turning into a nightmare. We have a portable air conditioner that we purchased for our bedroom and have been using almost 24 hours a day for the last month. I leave it on when I go to work so it will be cool when I get home.
Unfortunately, the unit leaked water onto my wood floors and they started to warp. The flooring guy says he would have to remove all of the wood flooring and replace because it would be too difficult to replace and match only what was damaged. I decided to remove the flooring myself with a floor scraper I rented. As it turns out, the flooring is glued down and is splintering off very slowly. How do I get these flooring strips up and off of the glue? Thank you very much,
Eugene B.

Hi Eugene,
Thank you. Wooden flooring can be nailed, glued or floated. Nailing can be used if you have a plywood subfloor. Some homes have particle board which will not hold the nails as strongly as plywood and so the floor will begin to squeak eventually. Nailing is the quickest and most inexpensive way to install the floor.    

As you have discovered, you can also glue the wooden flooring to the concrete slab. I’ve seen more glue than wood in some applications. It is very difficult to remove but there is a solution.

Then there is a floating floor. This is the way I would suggest you install the new floor. Instead of using glue, the wood strips are instead placed on a thin, styrofoam mat. You then keep it 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch away from the walls, all the way around the room to allow for expansion and contraction. Your quarter round would conceal this space. If you don’t leave this space, eventually the floor would start to buckle from humidity. The flooring is either tongue and groove or a snap-lock system and is not secured to the subfloor so replacement is very easy.

To remove the old wooden floor, start by using a chipping hammer with a wide, flat bit. These are also available at the rental yards.

There have been times when we had to use a jackhammer with an asphalt paddle, with a side of elbow grease, but try the chipping hammer first. Position the bit between the concrete slab and the wood and just let the tool pry the wood up as you go.  

Keep your face as far away from the chipping as possible because of the possibility of splintering. I’d also suggest wearing goggles for additional safety. Sometimes when you start chipping away at wood like this it has a tendency of flying off in the wrong direction.

Hi Robert,
We have a Murphy bed upstairs in a guest room. I’m not sure whether to take it out or make the repairs and keep it. One side of the spring assembly has broken but everything else is in good condition. Thank you,
Kim L.

Hi Kim,
I like Murphy beds. They’re great and they save space. Just a bit of history, Murphy was a Californian and was awarded the patent for his bed in 1900. What prompted him to invent it was he and his wife lived in a studio apartment and their bed took up most of the floor space. The Murphy bed was his solution.  

Repair kits are relatively easy to find and easy to install. You just a need a minimum amount of skill to put it together. If you need to re-bolt the assembly to the wall, you want to be sure to bolt to the studs.

Personally, I would fix it up and keep it for guests.

Many years ago the Murphy beds were built-in to the bedrooms of the house. Now, they are cabinet wall units that can be assembled and placed anywhere. Many of the new designs incorporate sliding bookcases, shelves and even desks. You can even leave the computer monitor on the desktop as it folds down and below the bed when opened. With the new designs using crown molding, light kits, televisions, etc, you would never guess there was a concealed bed behind the cabinetry. They open either vertically or horizontally and are available in all sizes and bunk beds also.  

I recently saw a German engineered king size bed that hides up against the ceiling. It’s called an elevator bed. By use of a remote and an electric motor, you raise and lower the bed down to the floor. It was nice. I don’t know if it was $30,000 nice, the list price, but it did look like something from 007.
Mr. Lamoureux,

We are retired and like to spend a lot of time on our back patio  We have considered putting in an enclosed sun room, but the price is still a bit out of range for us, and our patio would then be permanently shaded and sometimes we like to sit in the sun and we would still like the breeze. Are there any ideas you could assist with where we could make an adjustment to have shade or sun? Much obliged,
Thomas K.

Hi Thomas,
There is an electrically operated, exterior patio cover on the market. It has aluminum interlocking louvers that look like wood. If you want shade, you just close the louvers that overlap and block out the sun.   

Depending on how you adjust the louvers, you can have natural light, maximum ventilation with full shade or diffused light.  

They are also designed to be 100 percent rain proof. A nice touch is the automatic rain closing sensor which returns the louvers to their original position once it stops raining. Also, timer controllers can be programmed to various adjustments at pre-determined times throughout the day.  

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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