Before laying new flooring, homeowners may need to remove existing self-stick floor tiles. Attempting to lay flooring over the tops of these tiles can damage the integrity of new flooring, so it is best to remove the self-stick tiles first. While it can be difficult, you can remove self-stick vinyl tiles without hiring a contractor.
Prepare the tiles for removal. Choose a tile in an easily accessible area such as the centre of the floor, or an area where a tile already is loose. Using a heavy duty long-handled floor scraper, pry an edge of a tile up and slide the scraper underneath it. Scrape beneath the tile until you have pried up the entire piece.
Loosen the tile further. If the tile breaks into small pieces as you work, or is difficult to pry up, lay your wet washcloth over the offending tile and take your iron, which has been plugged in and heating to about medium, over the washcloth. Let it heat for about 30 seconds as you slowly move the iron over the tile.This should help to reheat the adhesive, loosening it up for removal. Remove the iron and washcloth, and use the prying tool or chisel to loosen the tile. If you have a heat gun, this can work even better than an iron to loosen the tiles and warm the adhesive. Continue this process until all tiles have been removed from the floor.
Remove the adhesive that is remaining on the flooring. If there are just small patches of adhesive remaining on the sub floor, you may be able to scrape it off with a putty knife, or use the rough scouring pad to scour off the adhesive. If the adhesive does not come up with the putty knife or scouring pad, you will need to use a vinyl adhesive remover/solvent. Follow the manufacturer instructions on the vinyl adhesive remover to spread it over the adhesive and remove it from the floor.
If you have a very large area of tile to remove, rent a professional stripper machine from your local hardware supplier, and follow instructions with the machine to strip the tile. While rentals may cost more than hand-scraping, your time may be worth it with difficult-to-remove tiles.
Fix any nicks or scratches your scraping has caused to the subfloor. Scraping the self-stick vinyl tiles and removing the adhesive can cause dents and gouges in your subfloor. Repair these by applying a cement-based product used for floor-patching over any damage, using a smooth-edged trowel.
Make sure you are wearing protective gear such as a respirator or face mask and gloves when using chemical solvents or when scraping up your tile, as there may be asbestos in old tiles. Err on the side of caution and assume that protective gear is a necessity.