Ask a Pro

Removing floor glue


Is there an easier way to remove the yellowish glue used under lino on cement floor? I have tried almost everything that was suggested in the local hardware store, including boiled hot water. Is it also possible or advisable to install tiles without bothering to remove the glue? Please help.

The secret to removing that glue is (unfortunately) elbow grease… but I do have some tips you can try that should make it an easier task.

First off, get yourself a decent scraper with a thin blade, and if it doesn’t have a sharp edge, add one. I’ve found that sharp and flexible works better than stiff and dull every time.

Secondly, you’ll want to soften the glue before trying your new scraper. Most often this can be accomplished with nothing but water and dish soap left to soak overnight.

Your last option is mechanical removal with a floor sander and coarse pads (available at rental stores), but only as a last resort….both the expense and the mess are things most could do without.

Now depending on the type of tile you are applying, you may not need to remove it at all. If you are using vinyl tiles, you want to prevent that old glue from touching the new tiles as oils in the adhesives can cause new tiles to develop yellow spots. In this case I’m afraid the old adhesive will all need to either come up, or be covered. (see below)

Ceramic tile applied with thinset mortar can be applied with the adhesive still on the floor, but you’ll still want to remove as much as possible to ensure a good bond. If you go this route, I would suggest using a polymer modified thinset mortar for high adherence to the concrete/old glue.

The last option you could consider is adding a layer of self-leveling concrete to the existing floor. Again, you’ll want to remove as much of the old adhesive as possible before pouring, but the end result will be a smooth, clean floor that is ready to accept whatever type of flooring you choose.

Good luck with the project. It’s not a fun job for sure, but the results will be well worth it.

Ryan Shervill

Ryan Shervill is a field editor and contributor to Outdoor Canada, as well as an avid hunter and shooter. He is also Canadian Home Workshop’s online Ask a Pro and contributing editor.


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Dec. 15, 2011

10:12 am

I do the same thing but I use soaked towels or blanket. It keeps the moisture in place in case the floor is concrete and has little dips all over the place.


Dec. 11, 2011

6:44 am

Thank you for the wonderful tip Ryan. I followed your suggestion by soaking the floor with soapy water overnight then scrape the glue off with scraper. It did work. Definetly "not a fun job" at all.

Thanks again.

Daniel Asfaw ( Victoria, BC)

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