I was not planning to replace the subflooring, even though it was particle board, until I came across this nightmare. This was my subfloor – much of it could be removed with no other tool than the shop vac. It doesn’t take many years of study to learn that a floor that can be swept away does not add much structural integrity to your house. What’s worse is that rotten particle board would not hold any of my hardwood flooring nails, so new kitchen floor would creak and the cabinets might not feel as solid as they would on new subfloor. As much as it sucks, I would hate to install a new kitchen on rotten subfloor just to save $200. Therefore, from that mess, I decided to rip it all out.
(Perspicacious readers can guess which appliance I didn’t want to move by myself.)
Turns out that ripping out the subfloor was definitely the right decission. That particle board is absolute garbage. Besides cutting around the fridge with a circular saw, I ripped the entire subfloor out with my bare hands, a small crowbar, and a shop vac. About one in 10 nails actually stayed in the board as I ripped it up, and the rest just broke out of the particle board and stayed in the floor. Some of the nails I pulled out were even hammered in straight. I was impressed.
Believe it or not, that black felt paper has been vacuumed a dozen times. The dust that you see that is still on that black paper is where the subfloor had rotted completely through, swelled to some odd size, and was totally worthless. There were other bad spots, but the big lines under the old cabinets, right near the fridge, and near the sink were the worst. They were also the only parts of the floor that were not protected by a linoleum moisture barrier. Funny that.
What you see there is the removal of 7 of the 10 sheets that that need to go. The other three are in the foyer. They are completely undammaged, so far as I can tell, but nobody makes that oddball thickness of subfloor anymore. Am I going to risk having uneven floors to save $45? No, and this is why engineers need their wife in Africa for a month to get a project done. And while I miss her terribly, she would probably be less than enthusiastic about the state of the house right now.