So I had what seemed like an impossible task. Stripping the bitumen from the original Victorian floorboards.
Back in the Victorian era people used to put a large rug / carpet in the middle of the room and paint around the edges with a bitumen / tar type substance. This is a massive challenge to strip back.
Sanding doesn’t work
Sanding it doesn’t work. The tar melts and smudges and clogs up the sanding belts. I searched Google for days looking for some help, but there wasn’t a lot of info. People ask the question, but don’t really get a real answer.
White spirit doesn’t work. Nitromors strips a tiny bit off but not a lot, plus it’s pretty darn expensive.
Tonight I’ve found something that works.
TAR REMOVER is the answer. It cost me £1.99 for 375ml from B&Q. The Nitromors was about £12 for the same amount.
How to remove the horrible black stuff
Tar remover is your friend (test an inconspicuous area first jut to be sure!)
Step 1: Pour some tar remover onto the abrasive side of a kitchen scourer
pour tar remover onto scourer
Step 2: Rub it into the floorboards vigorously
rub into floorboards
Step 3: Scrub the floorboards vigorously with a wire brush
scrub floor with wire brush
Step 4: Use a shave hook on worse areas
scrape with shave hook
Step 5: Brush the wood shavings away
brush the evil stuff away
Step 6: Repeat steps 1-5
Step 7: Wipe with white spirit
It takes a LOT of elbow grease. I probably did the equivalent to one whole floorboard in 2 hours. You have to scrub like crazy, but it actually works.
This should now be good enough to sand. If not, repeat it all again.
- Ventilate the room as much as possible
- Wear a face mask
- Take a break to get some air
Because after working for a couple of hours my eyes, nose and throat are burning.