Cork tile has upheld its reputation as a durable floor covering since its creation in the 1920's. Manufactured from the bark of the cork oak tree, cork tile is light weight, allergy free and environmentally friendly. Upstaged over the years by newer generations of flooring, cork tile is often replaced by homeowners who are seeking a more modern look. Due to the strong adhesive that is used to bond the cork tile to the sub floor, removal can be a challenge.
Assess the bond that your cork tile has with the sub floor below. If you have found that the some of the pieces of cork flooring are pulling away from the sub floor, a mallet and chisel will probably be sufficient to separate the cork tile from the sub floor. If not, the addition of a heat gun will be necessary.
Use a razor knife to make a division between two of the tiles. Place your chisel in between the newly separated cork tiles and begin chipping away at one of them. Slide the chisel in between the cork tile and the sub floor as you go, loosening the adhesive.
Apply heat to the cork tile using a heat gun. The heat will soften the glue, making chiselling easier. You will need to work in small sections, switching back and forth between applying the heat and using the chisel.
Scrape any remaining adhesive from the sub floor using a paint scraper. For stubborn adhesive, use the heat gun once again to soften it up.
Sweep the area to remove any remaining dust and residue that has been left by the cork tile removal process. Clean the sub floor with a scrub brush and a mild washing up liquid and water in a bucket. Allow the floor to air dry.
Solvents are sold that can dissolve any stubborn adhesive that has been left over from the cork tiles. Just be sure that if you decide to go this route that you provide proper ventilation. Open as many windows as possible so you are not affected by the fumes. Wear work gloves on your hands and goggles over your eyes for protection. A set of knee pads will also be helpful to cushion your knees.
Heat guns can become very hot. Be sure that you hold it far enough away from the floor to avoid scorching.