Plastic floor tiles are water resistant durable tiles made as an alternative to traditional tile types beginning in the 1940s and 1950s. Glued firmly onto the subfloor, removing plastic tiles can prove to be a messy, labour-intensive process that involves prying the tiles from the subfloor. While the tiles are unlikely to remain intact throughout the process, if done correctly you subfloor will. The less damage done to your subfloor, the fewer repairs necessary to ready the surface for any further flooring applications.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Heavy construction paper
- Masking tape
- Rotary tool
- Carbide grout blade
- Long-handled floor scraper
- Orbital sander
- Hand-held floor grinder
Cover any surfaces surrounding the plastic floor tiles with heavy construction paper for protection from plastic shards. Use masking tape to secure the paper in place.
Remove any baseboards surrounding the tiles. Use a prybar to pull nailed boards from the walls. Remove glued baseboards by dissolving the glue with a heat gun directed against the surface of the boards, and then pulling the boards away.
Remove the grout between two or three edge tiles to create a space to begin prying the files from the floor with the floor scraper. Use a rotary tool with a carbide grout blade attached for the grout removal. Turn on the tool and run the blade along the joint lines, cutting through the grout to the adhesive surface beneath.
Place the edge of the floor scraper into the cleared joint of one of the tiles. Tilt the scraper to a 45-degree angle and apply pressure to the blade to drive it along the surface of the subfloor beneath the tile. Use the scraper as a wedge to pry the tile from the surface of the floor. If the tile begins to bend rather than pop from the floor, apply heat to the adhesive beneath the tile by directing the outflow from a heat gun along the tile surface.
Direct the heat over the tile for about 30 seconds, moving the heat gun in a constant circular motion over the face of the tile to prevent melting the tile with the heat instead. The heat will dissolve the adhesive holding the tile in place, allowing you to pry it up with less force. Pry up the tile after heating.
Remove the rest of the tiles from the floor using the floor scraper and heat gun where necessary. Collect the tiles and dispose of them.
Scrape away any adhesive or grout remaining on the floor with the scraper. Use the heat gun where necessary to soften any hard to remove adhesive. Remove any grout that the scraper cannot pry from the surface by sanding it away with an orbital sander, or grinding it off with a handheld concrete grinder.
Tips and warnings
- Wear a pair of safety goggles, work gloves and a face mask during the project for protection against flying particles and dust.
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