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Tips For Prepping Your Previously-Carpeted Concrete Slab Before Installing New Flooring

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In an effort to save money, you've decided to take on a seemingly-easy home renovation project: ripping up the carpet to install amazing new hardwoods. However, now that you've finally ripped up the old carpet, you've discovered the concrete slab underneath isn't exactly what you expected. From getting rid of the old adhesive to correcting some serious cracks or uneven spots, here are a few tips to help you get the slab ready for the new flooring:

Getting Rid of the Old Glue

The glue originally used to keep the carpet or padding in place was very strong, so it's no surprise that some of it would be difficult to remove.

There are several commercial glue strippers available, but before you choose this option, realize that each comes with its own risks. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, certain chemical strippers contain volatile organic compounds, VOCs, that are potentially dangerous.

Soy based strippers are available, but unfortunately, these are often expensive and not as effective.

Luckily, there is another option that, although more labor intensive, can help you eliminate the majority of the glue without breaking the bank or exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals. Here's how:

  • Start by getting on your hands and knees and begin stripping away the glue with a hand held floor scraper. If there isn't much glue to remove, a razor blade scraper is another good option.

  • Create a mixture of hot water and a few drops of dish soap and dump it over any remaining glue. The glue only needs to be moistened, so don't risk creating water damage by flooding the floor. Allow the warm water to soften the glue overnight.

  • Scrape off any remaining softened glue. Scrubbing any remaining patches of residue with a steel wool scouring pad is a simple way to remove it.

If you simply cannot get the glue off the concrete with the above-described method, you may need to contact a professional for assistance.

Cleaning the Slab

Once the glue is completely eliminated, it's vital to clean the concrete. This helps remove any dirt or debris that could impact the finished appearance of your new flooring. Start by sweeping the floor with a heavy duty push broom. Make sure to eliminate as much of the dirt as possible.

Next, clean the concrete with a mixture of hot water and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Once again, it's vital to clean the entire surface thoroughly. If you have pets, you might find small, strange smelling discolorations on the concrete, which could be urine stains.

If there are pet stains present, the best way to eliminate the odor is with an enzyme-based cleanser. Allow the floor to dry completely before continuing.

What Are All These Cracks?

Once the floor is clean, it's time to tackle the most integral aspect of the job: making sure your slab is level and free from serious cracks and damage. Start by locating any uneven spots with a carpenter's level. Mark each of these spots with a permanent marker.

Now that you've noted all the floor's defects, it's time to make a critical decision: perform the concrete repair of the low points, cracks and damage yourself, or hire a professional. If you're considering taking on this task yourself, the process involves fixing any cracks or low spots with self-leveling concrete and grinding down any bumps and lumps.

If you don't have the proper equipment, the cracks and low spots are severe or you simply don't feel comfortable repairing the floor, it's best to contact a professional for assistance.

Getting your concrete slab ready for your amazing new flooring might seem like a huge chore, but the entire process is relatively easy, inexpensive and shouldn't take longer than two to three days!