Home Repair

1970s carpet pad- a nightmare!

This topic is available here on The Repair-Place forum
Hi guru-

I have a big orange nightmare in my house... I pulled up some 1970s green and yellow shag carpeting which had been installed over my 125 year old maple floors. Underneath is a very odd orange carpet pad. It isn't made of the standard foam stuff- it is some sort of weird rubbery substance, in a sort of weave/waffle pattern. The problem is that, while some of it is still in it's original puffy form, the rest has turned into a at times brittle, at times almost putty/clay like substance. I spent 4 hours yesterday trying to scrape that off my floors, to only minor success.

Do you have any idea how in the world I get it off my floor? Is scraping my only option, or is there a better way (I really, really hope there is!)

Karen Smile
Scraping is prob. the only way to remove the bulk of it. If you are planning to sand the floors and refinish them, then talk to the sanding / refinishing people to see how far you have to scrape vs how much they can sand. After they look at it, maybe there is some sort of chemical you could use to soften the old pad enough to scrape it off easily!
Unfortunately- we ARE the refinishing people Laughing that's what happens when you're broke! I'll have my uncle the contractor look at it when he comes in on thursday... but until then, scrape, scrape, scrape!

Karen Smile
WELL.... We managed to do it! The very last of the old carpet pad was scrpaed away last night!!! Thanks goodness for heat guns and metal putty knifes! We are still left with an orange residue all over the floor though. We've tried using a denatured alchol solvent to wipe it off, which works ok, but not great. Any fabulous ideas for ridding the floor of the residue? We'd rather not sand and refinish it until spring, but we've gotta get the residue off before my sister moves into that area mid-October.

Karen Smile
Well a chemical engineer I'm not... (one of the few things!)

I would go to Home Depot or some other home center and look at all the cans of chemicals. There are a good 10 different ones from denatured alchol which you tried to methel ethel keytone (nasty stuff) and everything between. Bring your glasses and read the back of the cans. They say what they are good at and what to watch out for.

Also there are finish wood strippers that may work too.
These may remove the floor finish too so you may end up with a bare wood floor.

Don't mix the different chemicals please! there may be some bad reaction we all don't want to know about!

Maybe even call a flooring supercenter that sells carpet, tile, and hardwood flooring and tell them your story. Maybe they have the correct product!
Ah... nothing like asking the flooring people.... I was a little worried about chemical interactions too, esp since that padding was such weird stuff to begin with. I'll keep digging around and let you know what I come up with. Oh, I might ask another Uncle... he IS a chemical engineer Laughing

Karen Smile
I wanted to let everyone know that after 2 months of constant work on our floor, it is all done!!! all the carpet padding residue was removed, thanks to many days of scrubbing with acetone and paper towels. We shellaced the floor to protect and seal it until we sand the whole downstairs floor (probably next spring/summer) and it is beautiful!! All in all, our removal steps were:

Pull up shag carpet
Pull out the bazillion staples they used to secure the shag carpet
Remove non degraded carpet padding with hands
Remove degraded carpet padding with heat gun and metal putty knife
Remove carpet padding residue with acetone and paper towels

Many, many weeks worth of work later, the floor is very lovely. It isn't PERFECT, as there are a lot of nicks and scrateches in the room entry areas which can only be resolved through sanding, but it is sooo much nicer!

I'd still like to have a discussion with the person(s) who installed that carpet and padding! Hope this journey helps out the next person who has to deal with this nightmare material... but I wouldn't wish this stuff on my worst enemy!!!

Karen Smile
We had an identical problem with the carpet pad under some old carpet - it had degraded into something like rubbery putty, or old chewing gum that stuck like crazy to the hardwood floor. Desperate, we used a large metal scraper, one of those things about the size of a hoe but with a straight blade, and with steady pressure, the gunk came off. We then used a putty knife to scrape the rest away and removed the residue with a liquid called Goof Off, which I think is nothing but Xylene, but I'm not sure. It's still a lot of work no matter how you slice it, though. Good luck!
Idea My husband used to be a floor tech for a high school in Kansas City. There, he discovered that if you mix amonia with HOT water [in equal parts], pour a light coat on a small area and let it set for 5-10 minutes that it will melt the pad and clean the floor. We have a 100+ old home with waxed floors and pad residue where a water bed leaked over 20 years ago (previous owner). Since I don't want to use up all my strength in just a few minutes, I use a Scum Buster to help with the elbow-work and I work in 3 x 3 foot squares. I put the on the solutionon, go work on my needlepoint until my kitchen timer goes off after 6 minutes, add just a little more solution, run the Scum Buster over the area until all the pad has been removed, wipe with severl damp clothes (white terry works best....the amonia will cause anything with color to fade), and then mop with plain water when I'm through. It is long hard work but the floor will be ready for the price of several gallons of amonia (I used Parsons) and my time verses having a new floor installed. Hope this helps! Very Happy
Hi Deb,

What is a "Scum Buster?"
just to let everyone know that this stuff has got to be the most frustrating orange crap that goes from rubbery to downright indestructible. some of it is flattened onto the plyboard underneath. we just got one room scaped and i sanded the floor as flat as i could get it which took days. now we are moving on to the second bedroom and UGHHHH! same stuff. we have tried everything, but afraid to make it too wet as the subfloor is only plyboard. i haven't tried the heat gun thing, so i guess that's my project for tonight. also be careful what you get next to this stuff, we actually have orange stains that almost ruined the good carpet, make sure you wear some old pants, it's virtually impossible to remove. i will be so gald when i am finally rid of this orange disease that has infested the house. sure wish i could find out who made this stuff.

Ron wrote:
Hi Deb,

What is a "Scum Buster?"

A scum buster....
It is made by Black and Decker.
It is used to clean carpet, sinks, tubs, etc. It looks like a small angle drill with a spinning brush instead of a chuck. There are several different attachments and brush shapes that come with this scrubber. It is also fully imersable in case you drop it into water too!

Works great!!!
Price? $39.99
Nightmare does not begin to describe this padding! I pulled up my carpet on terrazzo and I'm still working on the first square foot of floor after 2 days.

I think I've got it and I rub my hand over the floor and it's still sticky. And worse the smell from years of dogs, pee pee, spilled food and God only knows what else is in the mix.

My entire living room smells like an old gym locker. This stuff is just plain nasty!
They say misery enjoys company. I'm just glad I'm not the only one dealing with this very smelly problem. My husband is the one doing all the work right now but the smell is completely horrible and we've only started the first room. I completely agree, it's like melted rubber (into the subfloor!) and very difficult to get up. My question...Will new flooring cover the smell, should we varnish over it to seal it the smell, or do we need to remove the smell first? Same questions...Who would make this stuff? It's completely horrible! Our is tan though, not orange.
I am moving, and want your green shag! If anyone here still has any, I am looking to buy some. Thaks!
DEAJAVU at aol dot com
2 years later...Now it's my turn with the gooey pad on hardwood floors.
I'm getting the pad spots off with a putty knife first the scrubbing with terry cloth towel and Fantastic Spray cleaner.

bottom liner is excessive elbow grease.

Dennis in Sacramento
Use a product called Orange - Aid, it is sold by DuraWax and works great to get off that residue left after scraping the padding off. I have used it a couple of times. It is citrus based, non-toxic and won't harm your floors. Now what I would like to know is how to find the idiots that made this carpet pad so I can pay them a visit
A carpet specialist recommended Mineral Spirits--see the paint section of any paint store or hardware. Pour on a small area, use a putty knife for scraping soon. I then used a steam cleaner and Murphy's Oil Soap.

Hello Everyone,

I had the same orange hard shelled, spongey old padding melted into my hardwood floor. I was so upset, because i had tried everything to get it up. The suggestion of half amonia and half water is perfect. It is cheap and very effective. It is almost like magic. It almost dissolves it.

It took me forever to figure out that it was the old padding.

Use the amonia, it works like magic.
Hello all!
I to have that orange rubber padding problem the only difference is that most of mine is hard as a rock! I have tried dish soap and vinegar to soften it up to no avale. Scraping it is like trying to scrape cement!
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. The floor underneath is the
one and a half inch oak, Don't want to ruin it.
Thanks Lurlin
I removed the old carpet and padding that had been installed over hardwood all through my house. The padding had started to break down leaving a black tarry substance stuck all over the floor. It was very sticky - sticks to everything - feet, dogs feet, hands, clothes, etc. The LR/DR I had done several months ago with Top Job cleaner in hot water and a scrub brush on my hands and knees. Last night I pulled it up in the Master Bedroom and upper hallway (yes this is a "in process project") and tried a solution of ammonia and very, very hot water and a long handled deck scrub brush. It was still not easy but not anywhere as difficult as being on hands and knees. The wood still shows the marks of where the gunk was but I think when the wood is refinished and sealed they will go away as the wood is not damaged - just sort of stained.

But I definitely recommend the ammonia, hot water and scrub brush technique to remove this type of gunk. Just make sure that the area where you are working is well ventilated.
My problem though is that the padding is not gooey it is hard and stuck to the hard wood flooring. I am looking to find something that will soften it so I can scrape it up.
Fantastic advice! The combo of hot water and ammonia cleaner took the caked on carpet pad with ease! I tried to wash and scrub it off and wound up with sore shoulders. My favorite part is that I will be able to clean almost the entire 2000 sqft of floor with less than $10 of ammonia cleaner I picked up from the pharmacy.

I did a little research and found that carpet pads made just after WWII were made from rubber, butadiene rubber and styrene. These are all highly soluble in ammonia.

My floors look great. My pocket book is intact. My shoulders don't hurt. I am very happy!

How much ammonia to water do you use? I've been using Dawn and vinegar mix and it works on the lighter areas.That is taking alot of elbow grease. My wife says I need to speed up the process so I am going to try the ammonia and water!!!
Thank you, Lurlin

I think I found the solution to removing this horrible carpet pad residue. I found a product called "Professional Strength De-Solv-it, Contratctors' Solvent mad by a company called orange-sol. No putty knife needed and it desolved the residue with minimal work leaiving a smooth clean surface on my hardwood floors. I picked this up at my local hardware store. My floor was clean in about 2 hours. Very Happy
Found the perfect product to remove the disintegrated melted gooey sticky pad spots from my tile floor. Spray Greased Lightning on the area, and let it soak for approx 5 mins. Cuts through it like butter. You can see the Greased Lightning working turning from a white foamy spray to a to a black liquid as it disolves the nastiness right before your eyes. I used a scotch brite pad attached to a hard bristle brush to scour the area. A hot bucket of water with a sponge wipes away the grease with no effort. This stuff works like a champ, with relatively little odor. Avoid the ammonia!
Just bought a 125 year old house with the original wide plank hardwood floors under old gross carpet. It is like sticky gum! Tried Goo gone over it twice with putty knife scraping. Each time I get a little more off but not making much progress...grrrr Mad
a flat shovel works wounders the only way i found


Questions to Webmaster