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How to Remove Carpet Adhesive

January 18, 1998

QUESTION: I want to remove my old carpeting, which is glued directly to a concrete floor. How should I do it?

Brent Evans of RSS Distributors, a Leola, Pa.-based equipment supplier to the tool-rental industry, says:

ANSWER: Begin by pulling up the carpet, starting in a corner; it should peel up easily. If the room is big, slice the carpet into manageable pieces with a utility knife.

Odds are that the rubber backing and adhesive on the carpeting will remain stuck down. The quickest, easiest way to remove them is with an electric floor scraper, a walk-behind machine with a vibrating blade that plows up the residue.

Floor scrapers rent for $50 to $70 a day. They're loud, so wear earplugs--as well as eye protection--while you work. You might also want to rent a small hand-held scraper with a razor blade for corners and other hard-to-reach areas.

Damaged Drywall Must Be Replaced

Q: While removing some wallpaper, I accidentally scraped off the paper face of the drywall in several spots. I tried patching the areas with joint compound, but the edge of the paper bubbled, making it difficult to sand without tearing the paper even more. What do you suggest?

John O'Connell of Wallingford, Conn.'s Ceiling & Wall Specialists says:

A: The paper bubbled because it absorbed moisture from the joint compound. Sanding or spackling won't hide the repair. The only permanent fix is to cut out the damaged spots and install new drywall patches. When the damage is extensive, cover the entire wall with new quarter-inch drywall. Then tape and finish the joints.

Consider Alternatives to Weighty Clay Tiles

Q: My house needs a complete new roof. As I've planned out this renovation project, I've decided to go with Mediterranean-style clay tile for its aesthetic appeal. Is this type of roofing too heavy to cover one layer of regular asphalt shingles? Is there any chance it will overload the rafters beneath it?

Henry Spies of Spies Home Inspection Services in Champaign, Ill., replies:

A: Yes, clay tile is too heavy to install over an existing roof. Typically, you have to beef up the roof framing even if you remove the old roofing. Two alternatives I recommend are meal and fiber-cement roofing. Both are light enough to go over existing roofing, and they come in colors and shapes that mimic clay tile.

Stone-coated steel tile can also be installed over furring strips attached to the existing roof. This type of tile weighs about half as much as asphalt shingles yet will withstand hail, fire and high wind. Gerard Roofing Technologies (865 Columbia St., Brea, CA 92621; [800] 237-6637) makes stone-coated steel tiles. Another similar material, Decrabond, is available from Carter Holt Harvey Roofing (827 Ave. H East, Suite 211, Arlington, TX 76011; [817] 695-1090).

Fiber-cement--a mixture of Portland cement and wood fibers--weighs about twice as much as asphalt shingles, yet half as much as real clay or concrete tiles. You can get fiber-cement reproductions of Mediterranean tiles that will withstand freeze-thaw conditions from American Cemwood (3615 Pacific Blvd., Albany, OR 97321; [800] 367-3471).

Asphalt Can Go Over Cedar Shingle Roof

Q: I want to refinish our cedar shingle roof with asphalt shingles. One contractor says he can lay the new shingles right on top of the old. Another claims he must first remove the old shingles at an additional cost of $2,000. Also, when re-roofing over cedar, is it necessary to first install a felt underlayment?

Shannon Hinton of Cedarcrest Roofing in Kansas City, Mo., explains:

A: In most cases, a cedar-shingle roof can be covered with asphalt shingles. However, the roof must be rot-free, and any loose or badly curled shingles must be nailed down flat or replaced. You'll also need heavy architectural shingles; standard three-tabs won't hide any unevenness in the roof. The use of felt underlayment is dictated by local building codes and isn't required by most manufacturers.

Silicone Caulk Resists Paint; Try More Caulk

Q: Before painting my house recently, I applied silicone caulk around all the windows and doors. When I went to paint over the caulked surfaces, the latex paint I was using would not adhere to the caulk. Why?

Tom Philbin, a former painting contractor in Centerport, N.Y., and author of three books on painting, says:

A: Silicone caulk is not paintable. Many caulks and sealants can be painted, but they're usually latex-based.

Instead of painting the caulk you applied, try covering it. Silicone caulk comes in several colors, so you can simply apply a different color silicone over the first. Clean the existing caulk with rubbing alcohol first so the new caulk sticks to it.

Looking for an answer to a remodeling or repair and maintenance question? Mail it to Questions & Answers, Today's Homeowner, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Send queries by fax to (212) 725-3281. Please include your name, address and phone number. Questions selected for publication will be answered by experts.

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