Saturday, June 11, 2016

NO MORE Latex-Backed Rugs!

A few months ago, I put a latex-backed rug on the screened porch deck, right by the door.    I moved everything off the porch earlier this week for the deck to be pressure washed.  The hardest thing to move was a stupid rug.  It had a rubber backing, which had stuck like super glue to the porch.  I tried scraping the latex off and it wouldn't budge.  I crossed my fingers that the pressure washing would be able to remove it.  Nope.  It didn't do a thing.  ^%$#@!     I need to get all that mess off within the next week because all my porches are scheduled for staining and painting.

I started by using a hand sander.  The coarsest sandpaper I had was 120 and it wasn't going to do the job.  I tried using a belt sander and that might have worked, but after breaking THREE belts in a short period of time, I decided to look for alternative solutions.

I read a number of articles online and pulled out products they'd suggested that I had on hand.  Surely, some chemical would do the job.  The things that sounded like they should work, didn't, even when I left them to soak.  Among the fails - Goof Off, Krud Kutter, WD-40, Oops, and nail polish remover. Ordinarily, I don't use products like those.  They smell horrible and definitely not healthy to use.  I used plenty of ventilation when trying these out and lots of water to rinse the area after seeing that they didn't work.

So what did work?  Water.  Steam, actually.  It still wasn't easy and it wasn't quick, but it worked way better than the chemicals.  Bonus - water isn't carcinogenic, but I have to admit, in this particular case, I might have caved if one of the awful chemicals made the job easier.

Once I found the liquid that would help, I experimented with various scrubbing and removing tools - stiff bristle brushes, scrubbies,  and scrapers of all sorts.  Two things worked better than all the others - a metal scraper for the top layers and a steel wool pad for the last hard to remove bits.

I tried putting wet rags and towels on the area and leaving it to soak for a while.  I had hoped it might loosen the glue a bit, but it really didn't.  Heat was required and just because the highs right now are in the 90's, didn't mean I could skip using a heating device.  I started just using a portable steamer.  It was working, but it was slow going.

I wondered how else I might heat the areas.  I tried using some of those microwaveable wrap thingies.  I heated them and then laid them on top of wet rags which were on the boards.  They were good and hot and I felt sure they'd help, but they really didn't.  Plus, it was surprising how fast they cooled down for this project.

One thing that did help - a lot actually - was an iron.  I used an old craft iron, definitely not my good iron.  If I had owned a heat gun, like people use to strip paint, I would have used that.

If anyone should ask me what to do if their latex backed rug stuck to their deck, here's what I'd tell them -   *Note - this worked on a porch that was about to be re-stained.  If the latex is stuck to a hardwood floor, then I'd warn them that they may end up having to sand and re-do the floor.

Place a wet rag on a small area with latex residue.  Iron the area well, slowly moving the iron over the entire rag.  Pull off the rag and use a metal scraper to get as much of the residue as possible.  Go back over the area with a steamer, scraping along in the areas you aim the steam.  Rinse and wipe off the mess.  Go back with the steamer and steel wool pad, getting as much as possible.  You may have to do those steps a number of times on each area.  When you've gotten off as much as possible, let the whole area dry, then go over the area with a sander to get the rearming bits.
More tips:  Concentrate on small sections at a time.  A powerful fan will keep you from melting. Wear gloves.  Have plenty of rags and water on hand.  Have trash bin close by for the mess.  Take breaks often.  Your back and neck and knees will not be happy if you don't. You might want to stretch it out over several days.

This is exactly the kind of project that I hate.  It's a project where you work really hard, but if you do it really well, no one will notice.  They'll only notice if there's a mess.  I also hate this project because it was so unnecessary.  The rug wasn't even all that special.  It added a little bit of color.  It wasn't needed for wiping feet.   The only door on the porch leads back in the house.  The porch is right off the master bedroom, so I never wanted it to have yard access.

I now know to avoid rugs with the latex type of non-slip backing.  That's really an understatement.  In the future, I may be at risk for a conniption fit when anywhere close to these types of rugs.

I plan to advise my friends and family to steer clear of them as well.  I am certain melting will occur when these rugs are used outside, but they are not safe for use inside either, especially when there's a window nearby.  The web is full of sad stories, like this one -

Latex Rug Backing Stuck to Hardwood Floor

If you are ever in doubt about the backing of a rug but you REALLY want to use it, put a non-slip rug pad between the rug and your floor!

I worked on this project off and on all day long and I'm still not finished.  I'm stiff and sore.  I'll probably stick to working on it just early mornings over the next few days.  Here's the result so far -

It might have been easier to have rented a floor sander and worked on the whole floor.  I'm even wondering if, in the end, I might need to paint it instead of staining.  UGH!  Seriously, those rugs are EVIL!


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