I just bought a home that was built in the 60's. After pulling the
carpet up, I discovered an ugly vinyl floor underneath. However, much
to my pleasant surprise it appears there is what could be a beautiful
hardwood floor under the vinyl tiles.
Unfortunately, only one of the tiles was loose, the rest seem to be
very securely glued to the hardwood floor.
Anyone have any ideas on the best way to remove the vinyl tiles? I've
been able to remove them with a putty knife, but it took about an hour
just to remove a few tiles.
Boy, I'd have to think that in terms of effort to restore that it
might just be a lot cheaper to install new hardwood. It's not really
THAT expensive, and it sounds like you're talking about a boatload of
labor to even get to those hardwood floors. And whatever solvent
might help make the tile removal go easier probably isn't the sort of
thing you'll want to breath during the requisite belt sanding of the
A putty knife of course is one of the hardest ways to go though. A
standing scraper is what you might want better. Or there are these
nifty flooring removal machines (saw one on PBS this past weekend,
used where they pulled up commercial glued carpet from an office space
rehab probject) that are essentially a winch and platform that has
something that can dig to the flooring. You get a free end of the
vinyl or glued down carpet, and clamp on a metal piece to attach to
the cable, and then on the other end of the room you have the platform
winch thingee, and the winch pulls the free end of teh flooring toward
the winch/platform, pulling the flooring up along the way. If that
works, you'll just be left sanding through the old dried glue which
while unpleasant might not be too too awful.
Before trying it myself, I'd have some hardwood refinishing cats out
there to estimate what it would cost for them to do it, and maybe you
can pick up some pointers that'd be helpful in your decision on
how/whether to attempt this.
A floor stripper machine (essentially a motor driven putty knife) will
probably make a mess of the hardwood. They are mostly suitable for
plywood or concrete. A manual floor stripper (a wide, stiff blade on
a pole) would be faster than a putty knife and if handled carefully,
might not damage the wood too much. Take a file and round the corners
of the blade so they don't did in as much.
You could try heat or cold. Heat applied with a heat gun will soften
the tile and adhesive and make removing them a little easier. Still
slow going. Cold, applied via dry ice (you can often get a small
amount from baskin & robbins) freezes the tile and adhesive and makes
some kinds of adhesive brittle enough to pop the tiles right off.
I've had this work on tiles glued to concrete; never tried it on wood.
You have to be very careful handling dry ice, it will freeze your skin
in an instant. And it gives off CO2 (doh!) so have ventilation. (I
know CO2 isn't harmful, but if you have enough of it...) Ventilation
and a respirator is a good idea if you use heat too; it smells
terrible while you are doing it and I'm sure it can't be good for you.
Either way you're going to have a mess with the adhesive left behind.
You can buy chemical strippers designed to remove the adhesive. They
are just a form of strong paint stiripper and make a huge mess, but
you have to remove the adhesive before you sand the floor or you will
pay a fortune in gummed up sandpaper.
I'd remove enought of the tile in different spots to make sure the
floor underneath is worth all the trouble and expense. There is often
a reason people cover them up. (But just as often, people do stupid
things like cover nice floors with vinyl!)
Good luck, let us know what worked (and didn't)
PS: Dog or Cat pee might work...not sure you want to go that route
Try a heat gun on low temp. If you are lucky they are self sticking and
will come right up. If they have black glue under you are in for a
If you can get them up the floor can be sanded to look like new.
Been there and done that more than once.
First - thank you to everyone for the helpful information.
Now some updates. Yes, it most likely would be quicker (and maybe less
expensive) to simply cover the floor with a new high quality laminate
floor - but since I have the time, and the inclination, I'm going to
restore the existing floors.
Also, I tried using heat (as several suggested) to help remove the
tiles. To my pleasant surprise, a heat gun and and scrapper blade are
actually making pretty short work of the job.
The biggest problem slowing me down now is removing the THOUSANDS of
staples in the floor (from where the carpet installers stapled the
padding to the hard wood floor).
Lastly, I need to deal with the glue residue that is left behind after
the tile removal. I'll let you know how that goes when I get to that
part of the project.
Overall, HEAT seems to be a very effective tool to loosen the tiles for
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.