We are stripping out an old vinyl kitchen floor. By hand. Inch by inch, layer by layer, using chisels and a 2″ metal scraper, on our hands & knees. The vinyl is anywhere on the older side of 25 years and is so worn that it only comes off in layers – I’ll post some photos this week. The top layer, a dirty lime green and dirty white pattern, comes off in brittle chips some of the time but sometimes we can get a whole 4″x6″ chunk and then we celebrate! Under that is the glue that adhered the surface layer to it’s composite backing, and this comes up in ribbons when it’s wet – I’ll get to the wet part soon.
Under that is a 1/8″ layer of some type of composite backing and under that is the glue layer and then plywood. The top brittle layer chips off easily even if it is in small bits but the underlayers are a nightmare. I’ve learned that soaking them helps. We layer small sections of old rag towels, about 2′ square, onto the exposed underlayer and pour boiling water on the towels and let them sit and soak for about 1/2 hour. Then we begin scraping. I can scrape away about a 2′ square section in an hour, and I can only do about an hour a day, every other day. My arms, back and my scraping hand hurt afterwards so I give them a rest.