Any type of renovation or remodelling project where walls and floors are involved means that you’ll be needing quite a few different tools. A floor scraper works wonders when there’s the need to get rid of old carpet, carpet underlay, broken or dated tiles, and stubborn nasties like dirt, grime, grease or gum. This is also the first tool you’ll be turning to prepare and clean the substrate for your new flooring, be it any type of wood offering like laminate, hardwood or engineered options, as well as vinyl, tiles or carpet. The good news is that for smaller DIY tasks, handheld floor and wall scrapers are effective, easy to use, and inexpensive. And they’re found in most well-stocked hardware stores.
What is a Floor Scraper?
While there are handheld, walk-behind and ride-on scarpers, it’s the first type that sees the most use and is the easiest to find. This is a simple tool, consisting of a long and grippy handle and an angled blade used to remove material one sweeping motion at a time. The blade is very effective in getting stuck materials and items out, as well as removing adhesive used as underlay. It also proves handy when working with different looks in hardwood flooring.
The tool works effortlessly with other materials as well. Varnish, wallpaper, and flaking paint are gone in minutes. Moreover, scrapers are practical when removing damaged pieces of plywood, linoleum, stucco, plastic panelling, clay plaster and other materials on both floors and walls.
Basic Parts and Materials
There’s not much to scrapers. They’re essentially a handle with an attached blade. There are differences in the designs, materials and sizes though and this impacts use. Larger and longer handles are seen in floor scrapers, ranging anywhere from 18 inches (450mm) to over 48 inches (1200mm), but you’ll also find scrapers with extendable and locking telescopic handles when working in different areas. Shorter handles (12 inches or 300mm) are more common in wall scrapers and offer better control, but also need a little more elbow grease to get the best results.
When it comes to the materials in the handles, go with the low weight, durability and decent strength of fibreglass. Where outright strength is a concern, say when removing stubborn materials, nothing beats steel. One step up is stainless steel, good if you’re working outdoors, as this is also resistant to rust. Lighter options are aluminium, which is also strong and corrosion-free and works well in heavy-duty tasks, and wood as a decent all-around, comfortable and inexpensive option. Additions like rubber n0n-slip surfaces increase comfort and grip levels, while extras like weighted ball grips improve balance.
There’s also quite a lot to choose from in blades. Here the different sizes and materials are often the determining factors that categorise scrapers into light, medium or heavy-duty and determine what kind of work they can do. As a rule, longer blades are found in heavy-duty variants, where more and tougher materials need to be removed. Blade sizes depend on those of the scraper head, and this can be from small-ish 8 inches (200mm), going up to 16-inch (400mm) blades. As with handles, smaller blades are seen in wall scrapers, while longer ones are in flooring types, which will see users needing to work with larger surface areas.
Different types of steel are the most common materials in blades. Stainless steel keeps a sharp edge even when faced with harder materials. It’s also rust-free, so liquids and water won’t cause rust and blunting over the long term. Carbon steel performs somewhat better, keeping edges sharper for longer, so is good in medium and heavy-duty applications. The best (and most expensive) blades are made of tungsten carbide. This is three times as strong as steel, can remove basically any type of material, and will last the longest. Go with a tungsten carbide blade in bigger projects, as these also get work done faster.
Use and Maintenance
This is a simple tool that’s even easier to use. Scrapers work much like ordinary brooms, squeegees and rakes. To remove materials, stains and unwanted remnants from any floor surface, floor scrapers need to be held with both hands, run along the floor with the appropriate force, and at 15 to 30-degree angles. Larger blades will get work done quicker, but may also affect overall control and precision on more delicate surfaces. That’s why choosing the right type of scraper, both in terms of blade materials and sharpness, along with different blade and handle sizes, is important.
Blades are removable and can be sharpened, either with a sharpening stone or file. Or you can get replacement blades in the right size. Store these tools in sheds and garages as you would with other tools, and away from moisture, heat sources and anything that can cause damage. To ensure that your floor or wall scraper does a good job and lasts, go with products that are locally made. Homegrown scrapers are sold by several local companies that also have a healthy lineup of related tools and accessories for getting renovation or remodelling jobs done faster and more effectively.