Glued down rubber backed carpeting detaches from the carpeting and remains stuck to the concrete

Glued down rubber backed carpeting detaches from the carpeting and remains stuck to the concrete

Carpet backing presents a problem

Our landlord has given us permission to remove the rubber-backed carpet in our basement. The room is 15 feet by 28 feet and the carpet was a direct glue-down. As we removed the carpet, the rubber backing detached from the carpeting and is still glued to the concrete floor. We have tried using a paint scraper to peel and scrape the rubber off, but it’s slow going.

Can you tell me the easiest way to remove the rubber backing? Even with the entire family working on it, it’s a bigger job than I anticipated. Any help would be most appreciated.

Since I’ve been there and done that, I know that you have quite a project on your hands. I wish I could recommend an easy solution to removing the rubber backing and mastic, but it’s going to take some old-fashioned elbow grease, proper tools, and possibly some solvent.

However, now that I’ve said that, I’ve seen some jobs where the rubber backing and mastic came up without a lot of difficulty. It all comes down to luck, the type of mastic, how long it’s been down, and, of course, the proper tools. While your first instinct to use a paint scraper was a good idea, it’s really not the proper tool for the job and will only make the project more difficult.

I recommend instead that you visit your local home center and check out the PoleCat by Hyde Tools (#12070), a stiff extra-heavy-duty 3-inch chisel. What’s great about this tool’s design is that you can use it as a hand-held tool or with Acme threaded broom handles and extension poles. An extension allows you to stand so you’ll achieve good leverage on the tool and deliver better scraping force. This will make it much easier to remove the rubber backing and mastic and will keep you off your knees.

Another favorite tool of mine is Hyde’s 4-inch Wallpaper Shaver (#33110). It’s a great tool for removing mastic, but you’ll need to work on your knees, so make sure you have some great kneepads. The tool has an overall length of 12 inches and the head of the tool is built on a slight angle for easy use. The sharp replaceable blade reaches under the mastic, making it easier to peel the mastic off the concrete floor.

Until you find the particular working angle that’s just right for you, it will be frustrating at first to use either of these tools. It’s especially important to find the right angle with the wallpaper shaver; if you don’t, you’ll break the blade right out of the starter gate.

Once you’ve removed as much as you can of the rubber backing and mastic, consider renting a heat gun to help soften the remaining mastic so you can scrape it up using the wallpaper shaver. This may be somewhat tedious and slow going, but it’s effective. Always work in small areas at a time.

Glued down rubber backed carpeting detaches from the carpeting and remains stuck to the concrete

When most of the mastic is removed, apply lacquer thinner, again working in small areas, and use a white rag to remove the remainder of the mastic until the concrete floor is completely clean. Wear chemical-resistant gloves and eye protection when using the lacquer thinner. Whether you use a heat gun or lacquer thinner, open windows for ventilation.

I believe the work will go much better if you invest in the proper tools for this project. Perhaps you can get the landlord to spring for the tools since the investment will be under $25. Happy scraping!

Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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