How to remove sticky vinyl tile and adhesive

Written by cesar castro | 13/05/2017
How to remove sticky vinyl tile and adhesive
Remove old tiles before laying a new floor. (Voyagerix/iStock/Getty Images)

When laying new vinyl tiles during a home renovation project, you may first have to remove old vinyl tiles and the sticky residue left on the bare floor. New tiles usually cannot be applied over older vinyl tiles because the seams of the tile will show after the new floor is installed. Removal is a tedious process, but it's a job that anyone can perform with a few handy tools.

Locate an easy place to start the tile removal process. Find a gap somewhere on the tiled floor to start scraping the vinyl off. If there are no visible seams or gaps in the tile floor, use a hammer to drive a putty knife under a tile. Lift a large enough portion of the tile to get a good grip on it. Pull and remove the tile. Once the first tile is removed, it will be a lot easier to remove the rest of the vinyl tiles.

Work the putty knife under each tile to remove them. The older the tile, the easier the removal process will be. Tiles that are more than 20 years old will be easier to remove. Over time, solvents and glues on the vinyl tiles will gradually lose their gripping power.

Use an adhesive remover to dissolve any sticky residue. The adhesive remover is readily available in home and garden supply shops. Douse the floor with a layer of the adhesive remover. Wait a few minutes, letting the adhesive do its magic. The adhesive remover will soften the film of residue on the floor. Use your putty knife to scrape the adhesive off. Alternatively, use plenty of old rags to wipe the adhesive off.

Use wood putty to fill in large gaps on the bare floor. Creating a flat surface will help the adhesive from the new tile stick to the floor. Allow the wood putty to completely dry and solidify. Sand down the putty to create a flat surface. Use a vacuum to clean up any shavings. Use a wet mop and an all-purpose detergent to clean up any residual debris and adhesive remover.

Allow the floor to dry for 48 hours before you try to install new vinyl tiles. This will allow all residual adhesive remover to evaporate completely and allow the new vinyl tiles to stick securely. Some flooring adhesives stick better if the floor is primed with paint primer and other adhesives will stick better on clean bare wood. Check with your vinyl tile manufacturer to determine the best installation method.


Use a hair dryer on the hottest setting to help remove vinyl tiles that are stubbornly stuck to the floor.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a hair dryer on the hottest setting to help remove vinyl tiles that are stubbornly stuck to the floor.

Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Adhesive remover
  • Old rags
  • Wood putty
  • Sander
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • All purse detergent

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