Removing Vinyl Floor Tile Adhesive

Updated February 21, 2017

Removing a vinyl tile floor is often done in stages. Once you've taken up the tiles themselves, a layer of soft adhesive frequently remains behind on the floor. The adhesive will need to be scraped from the floor, but several things can help make the scraping easier. This adhesive grows stronger the longer it is down, so the older the floor, the more of these techniques may be needed to get the job done.

Stand and hold a long-handled floor scraper at a 45-degree angle to the adhesive. Push at the adhesive in short strokes, getting below it as you move. Test various patches of adhesive around the floor to see how easily they come up. Remove any patch of adhesive that comes up quickly using this method.

Set a hair dryer to high heat and point it at tougher patches of adhesive for a few minutes to soften the adhesive. A clothes iron can also be held a few inches above a patch of adhesive. Do not set the iron or hair dryer onto the adhesive. Scrape up the softened adhesive with the floor scraper in short motions. Stop frequently to clean the scraper and reheat the adhesive.

You can also use heat first to help soften some hard patches before adding the solvent as described in Step 3. Do not apply heat to adhesive that has solvent on it.

Apply a coating of chemical adhesive solvent to hard, dried patches of vinyl tile adhesive. Open a window or run a fan as you apply the solvent to prevent breathing in large amounts of chemical fumes. Allow the adhesive remover several minutes to soften the adhesive, and then test it with a floor scraper. Remove any adhesive that comes up easily and apply more solvent to areas that are still hard.

Go over the substrate one final time with the floor scraper to catch any remaining adhesive. This ensures a smooth substrate that is ready to accept new flooring.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor scraper
  • Hair dryer or clothes iron
  • Chemical adhesive solvent
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About the Author

Sarabeth Asaff has worked in and has written about the home improvement industry since 1995. She has written numerous articles on art, interior design and home improvements, specializing in kitchen and bathroom design. A member in good standing with the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Asaff has working knowledge of all areas of home design.