Removing Adhesive Flooring

floors, flooringAdhesion is a more common method of installing flooring materials. The components are either glued to the subfloor, or to each other, or both. In any case, you won’t be able to remove the old flooring without damaging it. That’s okay. You simply want to remove it so there is the least damage and debris on the subfloor. 

Fortunately, there are tools available for removing glued flooring. One popular method is to insert a floor scraper, a long-handled metal edge similar to a large, thick putty knife, between the subfloor and the flooring to pry them apart. Success depends on the strength of the adhesive and of the two surfaces it adheres, the top of the subfloor and the bottom of the old flooring. If adhesion is strong, removing the adhesive may remove a plywood subfloor’s top layer or the flooring’s underlayment or base layer. In either case there will be additional work to be done to prep the subfloor.

One solution is to purchase or rent a heated floor scraper or similar tool that melts the adhesive so the old flooring can be removed more easily. Be careful, however, as the heat can potentially start a fire or release hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere.

Ceramic and vinyl tiles are removed in a similar manner as sheet flooring. However, because tiles move easier underfoot most installers use more or stronger adhesive when they are installed. That makes removal more difficult. Fortunately, tiles are smaller than sheets so it is easier to get under an edge with a chisel or putty knife to lift them.

Pro Tip

Try a hair dryer in combination with a floor scraper to soften and remove old flooring adhesive.

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