This is a photo of my non-functioning dishwasher, but that’s not why I posted it. It is surrounded by my (real) wood cabinetry (awaiting painting… someday), and my (fake) wood countertop (kitschy, yes, but in such good condition that it comes ‘round full circle to clever), but that’s also not why I posted it.
No, I posted this because it’s the only readily accessible photo in which you can see the current state of my kitchen floor. There are many more, but I’m lazy and pissed off today, so you’ll have to make do with this.
After two months of hoping it would just magically refinish itself, I’ve finally bit the bullet today and tried tackling it again. The floor was once covered with two flimsy layers of rolled linoleum, the oldest dating back to 1985. Removing the lino was easy, although it left behind the paper backing in some areas, which was less pleasant. That’s when I discovered razor scrapers, which, when combined with hot water, easily remove the paper backing.
What I was not prepared for? Dry, hardened yellow mastic. This is the glue that’s used to hold the linoleum to the raw cement floor. As you can see from the photo, while some it has been lifted (grey areas), vast sections of yellowed, ugly cement remain. The yellow areas are the spots where the glue has been poured on so thickly that it has filled every pit and scratch in the cement, making removing it a huge chore. Also in the photo, you’ll notice the long crack that nearly bisects the entire floor… but more about that in a minute.
Let’s talk about mastic, and glue removal in general. Here’s a fun fact: there is no guarantee that a chemical preparation of your choice will remove the glue in question, since just as each “glue gone” bottle boasts a mixture of different ingredients, so do the various glue formulations. I am not fond of strong chemicals, and I don’t have the luxury of a fat bank account, so experimentation with pricy glue removal potions isn’t really an option. Ultimately, all my research has culminated into one inescapable concept: “mechanical”.
Mechanical removal of the mastic is the only way guaranteed to work. Currently, I am using hot water, a wire brush, and the aforementioned razor scraper for detail work. Here’s the process: boil water; ladle boiling water onto small area; scrub now wet area with wire brush; repeat… endlessly. It takes forever. I am not interested in renting a floor sander. My understanding is that they can get too overzealous with the sanding and leave unevenness and grind marks. I am contemplating picking up a cheap grinder and wire brush attachment and at least taking a little of the elbow grease out of it, but until then, it’s manual, mechanical removal for me.
Now, about the crack. It kinda doesn’t bother me. I’m sure people that know me well might read this and be surprised, but it doesn’t. I have some leftover dark grey grout from something else, so I’ll likely fill it with that, but I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t match… I’ll just call it veining and leave it at that.
If any of you out there have any experience with mastic or glue removal, and have any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them… you know where I’ll be, on my knees on the kitchen floor!