Removal of Bitumen Flooring

Updated February 21, 2017

Removing a bitumen floor is a challenging task. Because it is asphalt based, it is a durable flooring and typically adhered to the subfloor with a strong adhesive. Bitumen flooring is generally found in homes built in the early and mid-20th century, because this particular type of flooring was relatively inexpensive compared to tile and hardwood. Removing a bitumen floor will take a substantial amount of labour and will take hours of work to completely uninstall.

Unfasten the threshold trim in any doorways with a screw gun, loosening and taking out the screws going into the floor. This will give you a starting point.

Put a wheelbarrow near the doorway, just outside the room. Put on rubber gloves. Retrieve about four or five aluminium cooking pans and place dry ice in each pan.

Set the pans inside the room on top of the bitumen flooring. Let the aluminium pans sit on the bitumen for about 20 minutes to make the flooring brittle after being chilled.

Take the aluminium pans out of the room, along with the dry ice inside each pan. The bitumen should be brittle enough to scrape and break up.

Put on goggles and a respirator, take off the rubber gloves and put on leather work gloves. Go to the doorway with a floor scraper and press the blade in the scraper between the bitumen and the subfloor.

Lean against the floor scraper and begin scraping up the bitumen from the doorway along the closest wall to the opposite wall. This will be laborious and time consuming, but the bitumen will scrape away from the subfloor, removing it in a continuous manner. Do not jump from section to section or you will incur far more physical labour.

Scrape along each wall, scraping up the border, going in ever-smaller circles to the middle of the room for best results.

Pick up all the freed bitumen pieces from the subfloor and put them in the wheelbarrow. Then pour adhesive solvent on the floor. Wait as long as directed by the manufacturer to soak in, then scrape up the old glue with the floor scraper.

Mix floor cleaner and water in a bucket and mop the bare subfloor to finish the removal.

Things You'll Need

  • Screw gun
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rubber gloves
  • Aluminium baking pans
  • Dry ice
  • Goggles
  • Respirator
  • Leather work gloves
  • Floor scraper
  • Adhesive solvent
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bucket
  • Mop
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About the Author

Owen Richason grew up working in his family's small contracting business. He later became an outplacement consultant, then a retail business consultant. Richason is a former personal finance and business writer for "Tampa Bay Business and Financier." He now writes for various publications, websites and blogs.