Floor adhesive removal

Updated February 21, 2017

Different flooring materials use different adhesives to secure them to the floor. Preparing for new flooring requires you to remove the old flooring material and the adhesive used to hold the flooring to the subfloor. Use an adhesive remover designed for different types of adhesives if you are unsure what adhesive was used with your old flooring. Check with your city for disposal requirements before disposing the removed adhesive.


Clean the loose dirt and debris off the floor. The floor needs to be thoroughly free of anything that could hamper the adhesive remover. Use a vacuum cleaner along the edges of the room to remove trapped dirt beneath the baseboards. Choose a flooring adhesive removal product that removes multiple types of adhesives. Always check the label for the number of square feet the product covers, so you purchase enough for your floor.


Open the windows in the room to let the air circulate. Because of the toxic chemicals contained in adhesive removers, you must wear clothing that protects your skin, such as long trousers and long-sleeved shirts. Wear protective goggles over your eyes, acid resistant gloves on your hands and a respirator for organic vapours approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, listed as NIOSH on the respirator. Failing to follow the safety precautions could result in injury to you or a family member.


Pour the adhesive remover onto the floor, spreading it over the floor with an old mop, scrub brush or paint roller. Let the remover remain on the floor for 15 minutes before you check to see if the adhesive has softened. Allow the remover to remain on the floor longer if the adhesive is still too hard. Check the label for the maximum amount of time you can leave the remover on the floor without damaging the subfloor surface. Scrape the softened adhesive from the floor with a floor scraper. Some of the tougher adhesives may require scrubbing with a hard bristled brush before you can scrape it off the floor.

Disposal and Completion

Place the adhesive you removed into a container approved by your city for disposal of toxic chemicals. Use an old cardboard box lined with trash bags if your city does not regulate the disposal of the old adhesive. Rinse the floor thoroughly with water once you remove the adhesive to remove any chemical residue. Let the floor dry completely before installing new flooring.

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About the Author

Cecilia Harsch has been writing professionally since 2009. She writes mainly home improvement, health and travel articles for various online publications. She has several years of experience in the home-improvement industry, focusing on gardening, and a background in group exercise instruction. Harsch received her Certified Nurses Assistant license in 2004. She attended Tarrant County College and studied English composition.