Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What we will do for the love of a vintage floor

I am a fan of vintage flooring, especially anything that has gold sparkles in it.  I really wish we could find new flooring that had the flair of flooring in the 1950's and 1960's.

We have a half bath that had shag carpeting.  The time had come to get rid of that shag carpeting.

Our initial plan was to remove the carpeting and lay a new floor.  We had picked out a great 60's style flooring that was featured on Retro Renovation from Karndean.  It is a blue mosaic vinyl tile that worked well with our oddly colored blue 4 x4 tile that was on all 4 walls of the bathroom.

The shag carpet came up and we found at least three layers of gunk on the floor.  Perhaps some carpet adhesive, deteriorated carpet pad and some other unidentified mastic.  We felt we needed to remove this gunk so that we could lay the tile down correctly.  We didn't want to put down a new sub floor because we didn't think we could cut the sub floor to match the curve in one of the walls in the bathroom.

Well the gunk on the floor seemed pretty determined to stay there.  We used all sorts of cleaners to try to get it up with little luck.  Finally, we just had to start scraping it with the edge of a shovel.  As you can imagine, this was quite discouraging and seemed like this project was going to take forever.  As we scraped and scraped, we started to uncover the original vinyl floor.  The more we saw of the original floor, the more we liked it.  It was a nice mix of colors, matching the toilet and sink as well as the blue in our wall tile.  Most exciting was the small areas of gold sparkle in the floor that pulled it all together.

Once we had a small section almost completely clear of the gunk, we looked to see if the scraping with the shovel was damaging the original floor.  Much to our surprise, it was not.  So we kept scraping and checking and we started to get the idea that maybe we could salvage this great floor.  It was a calculated risk.  We didn't know if all of the floor was in good shape so could we be spending all this time scraping and end up finding sections that were in really bad shape.  We decided to just take the risk.  We needed to get this stuff up to lay  a new floor anyway, so let's invest the time to see if we can get it up with hopefully a reward of the original vinyl in good shape.

 Even with the reward of knowing we might have an beautiful vintage floor when we were done, the scraping was tedious and frustrating.  We continued to try to find cleaners that would help move the process along, even one that said it was 100% guaranteed but no luck.  During this process, we were having our basement VCT floor, we had just installed, sealed.  The guy doing the sealing of the floor looked at our bathroom floor.  He said he has some professional stripper that he thought might help.  

He dropped off the stripper a couple days later.  It was called Crowbar.  Even with such a strong sounding name, we didn't have much hope but were willing to try it.  We picked an area by the toilet in case it did something bad to the vinyl.  We put it down, full strength and miracles of miracles, it worked!!  We had to apply several coats with each coat taking off a little more of the gunk but were were making progress and this was much easier than scraping.

As you can see in the side by side comparison, the new stripper has helped us make progress and we have renewed hope that we will get this project done in a timely manner.  If we are able to salvage the floor, I will post pictures of the finished floor when we get done.

I know it might have been easier to just cover the floor up, but for the love of vintage, very cool flooring, we were willing to go the extra mile or two to see if we could bring it back to life.