Repair & Care
Manual Floor Scrapers
Editors Note: This segment deals mostly with hand scraping concrete slabs.
Floor scrapers are one of the most commonly used tools in a professional flooring installers tool box. A variety of floor scrapers are available through most big box and hardware stores. I personally own at least four very different floor scrapers which I use for a variety of different purposes.
Short Lightweight Scrapers
There are light-weight short handled scrapers which I use when I need accuracy and control, such as scraping old adhesive out of the spaces in between boards of a repair area. More common uses of this this light-weight scraper (paint and wall scraper) is for removing paint overspray, drywall mud, old adhesives and other light-weight contaminants from the sub-floor as part of the necessary prep work.
This type of tool often called a paint or wall scraper carries a 4 inch wide straight razor blade which is fastened to the tool via a clamping mechanism with two to three Phillips head or regular slot screws. The handles run about 10-14 inches long with a slip on style rubber grip.
Most newbie's/DIY'ers will want to walk away from this tool very quickly if there is a lot of material to be scraped off the sub-floor because the short handle means you will be on your knees bent over for quite a while. No fun! But, believe me, it is well worth the effort to remove paint over-spray, and other contaminants from the sub-floor. So let me give a few helpful ideas to those facing lots of scraping.
• KEEP A SHARP BLADE ON YOUR TOOL. Spend the extra money for plenty of replacement blades. You'll understand when scraping concrete slabs as the blades dull very quickly. By replacing the blade often you will finish much faster, with less sweat effort, and have a better surface on which to install your new floors in the end.
• WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER! If faced with lots of scraping, I recommend taking the grip/sleeve off of the handle of your floor scraper and slipping the bare handle into a longer pole or broom handle. You will get much better leverage, longer strokes, and not be wearing out your back or knees.
• SCRAPING WOOD SUB-FLOORS. You will find the blade will dig into the wood continually. Take the blade out and turn it upside down so that the razor edge is locked into the clamping part of the tool and the blunt/unsharpened edge is doing the scraping. This works so well, you will be amazed.
• USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE TASK. Let's say for instance you are trying to remove thin-set mortar used for tile installations. You would probably want a chipping hammer to knock off the tile and most of the thin-set mortar first. Once the majority of the material has been removed, you would, at that time use a light weight floor scraper to remove the remaining thin-set. This would ensure a nice and smooth surface upon which to lay your new flooring. If you are removing a heavy material use a heavy scraper, or a narrow tool.
• BE SAFE. It is ideal that you should wear shoes, long pants, gloves, and safety glasses. A dust mask is probably a good idea too. Be careful with those scraper blades. They are as sharp as regular shaving blades and should be kept out of reach of children.
Hope you have gained something by my experience.