Floor-covering demolition contractors have long had their work cut out for them. Over the years, some new technologies have increased the efficiency of removing tile, hardwood and other tough floor coverings. However, there are still many applications that require contractors to get on their hands and knees, using a rotary hammer to slowly chip away the covering.
For Mark Jones, president of Commercial Tearout Services, and his crew, a large percentage of time was spent on their hands and knees. Understandably, this took a toll on their bodies, as well as the company’s efficiency. Eventually, it led Jones to experiment with a new technology to speed up the process and put the hand-held rotary hammer down for his floor-covering removal jobs.
Based in Spokane, Washington, Commercial Tearout Services has been in business for 16 years. Jones has a partner and, together, they employ two part-time workers. The small company specializes in the removal of non-hazardous floor coverings, which includes basically all materials that don’t contain asbestos. “We remove glue-direct carpet, sheet vinyl, ceramic tile, vinyl composition tile and wood flooring,” said Jones. “Occasionally, we remove specialty floor coverings, too.”
Like most other demolition contractors, Jones hopes that most of his jobs will allow him to use an electric-powered ride-on machine that the company owns. The machine is equipped with a front-mounted, two-inch-wide carbide blade, which is designed to quickly knock up tile. However, the unit weighs approximately 2,000 pounds. Therefore, Jones is limited to using it on slab-on-grade floors and other levels that can be easily reached by elevator. Additionally, the machine is not well-suited to maneuver in small rooms, despite its compact design.
Equipment allows contractors to get off their knees
Jones’ main frustrations arose from a job at a local Air Force base where he was removing tile from a dormitory floor. “We’ve been removing tile at the dorm buildings over the last three years,” he said. “We’ve been awarded the contract every year.”
Unfortunately, the dorm buildings didn’t accommodate the company’s equipment very well. Of the five floors in each building, only two of them could be accessed with the ride-on machines. Therefore, Jones and his crew used hand-held rotary hammers to remove tile from the remaining three floors. After taking up the tile with rotary hammers, the team would then run a diamond grinder over the area to flatten the surface. “There are about 4,000 square feet of tile per building,” said Jones. “That’s a lot of square footage to do on our hands and knees.”
One day, Jones heard of a new type of tool carrier on the market, claiming to offer a solution for this age-old problem. The new tool carriers are designed to hold electric-powered breakers rated in the 35- to 45-pound class, which offer the direct-impulse force needed to break through the bonding material between the floor covering and the surface. The carriers bear most of the weight of the electric breaker, taking the heavy burden off the operators and allowing them to work from a comfortable upright position. The units also offer easy adjustment of the blow force angle for achieving maximum effectiveness.
The timing of Jones’ discovery worked out well, as he had an immediate need for the solution. “I was really looking for something because I knew we had another project coming up at the airbase,” he said.
Luckily, Jones was able to track down a rental store a couple hours from Spokane that had a CTS12 from General Equipment Company available for him to use. “The fact I was able to rent one first was a big plus,” he said. “A guy doesn’t want to spend money on something and find out it isn’t going to work.”
As hoped, the new solution made a major impact in Jones’ operation. “It got everybody off their hands and knees,” he said. “It definitely changed the whole game plan.”