How to remove adhesive backed floor tiles

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BAKERS DOZEN | 14:36 Sun 27th Nov 2011 | DIY
19 Answers
Husband is trying to remove lino type floor tiles in the kitchen. He is using a heated paint stripper at the moment to try and lift the tiles but it is very slow going and it is leaving clumps of adhesive on the floor in places. Will he have to use a sander to get rid of this later or can anyone suggest an easier way of doing it. Any suggestion gratefully received.


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I am waiting with interest to hear your replies - this is one of our "to do" tasks too... we are expecting to have to use the sander.
You cannot use a sander to strip old adhesive.
It depends on what's going down next. If hessian backed lino (marmoleum) like I just did on one property, you really need to flat off with a large sharp scraper or use latex floor leveller to provide correct base for using vinyl tile adhesive .. or they may lift on corners. That's hard work.
Quick way to remove tiling on adhesive that's hard on a screed or other tiles is to hire a Medium Breaker and a Blade Chisel (about 6-8" scraper blade) I did a whole large kitchen in 1/2 hour. It just rips it straight off without damaging base.
So what is going down on top?
Albags (excuse me, baker...) we are intending to lift the vinyl then just leave the good floorboards exposed, so I wouldn't want to chisel in case of damaging the boards?
thanks, D97!
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I am told by himself that I have phrased the question wrongly. Oops. He's not having too much trouble getting the adhesive off the floor once he's got the tile up. It's getting the tile off in the first place that is the problem. Is there anything out there that has a wider heat source is what he wanted to know. My suggestion of a flamethrower fell on deaf ears. As most women will know, when boss man is doing DIY then we are best just keeping out of the way and feeding him coffee/beer at regular intervals.
I've found that an old plasterers trowel used backwards to be very useful when trying to get up things like that.
This is a recurring problem for which no-one has come up with a ready solution. Using heat to soften the adhesive seems to end up with it being spread further. Any solvent will tend to penetrate the wood carrying adhesive with it, resulting in staining. The second-best solution is to lift the floorboards, turn them over, and replace them...not easy to do without damaging them if they have been ''blind nailed''. Alas, the best remedy, and unfortunately the most expensive, is to re-lay with new floorboards.
Oops. I was concentrating on the adhesive rather than lifting the tiles!
Probably too late for helping now, but... any DIY store (at least here in the U.S.) will have a liquid wall paper remover solution. Usually, it's meant to be added to very warm water at about 50/50. Use a full strength solution, very warm, sprayed on the linoleum after "scoring" it with the cup shaped wall paper perforator (seen here: ). It has three wheels inside that move randomly when rubbed over the wall and then leaves a series of small holes in the wall paper and works on the tiles as well. Spray the remover... wait for 30 minutes and spray again. This will separate the top or decorative part of the linoleum from its base as well as attack the adhesive. The top will scrape right off with most any tool. Spray the adhesive left and it, too, will come up...
The trade way .. Bakers .. is to use a medium breaker (power tool) and a chisel tile head .. It is a thin but blunt wide blade.
You haven't said (that I can see) what is underneath .. screed .. floorboards, etc. If you wish to ignore .. fine. But that is the trade way.

Lino is so insulative, you will need a lot of heat and there will be smoke and burning. Removing the adhesive .. whether black-jack or evostick .. or vinyl cement is another matter .. most likely chemical.

It does not damage hard floors if used correctly eg. NOT vertically!
Nothing to add to what the rest of the team have said........ except to back up what Al says about a small breaker (Hilti or similar) ....... with a scraper or wide spade bit.
I like Clanad's mention of the remover solution..... if you can find it in the UK.
Good old US of A "can do" technology :o)
Thought you'd be along mate.
Farmhouse kitchen floor I did with marmoleum recently had three layers to remove .. 2 of thermoplastic (the old favourites) and one of cork.
One of those blades took the lot off in one go .. leaving screed with adhesive.
Scraped that with one of these .. and then latex leveller.
Hi Al .......... I can believe it. In fact, the greater the thickness, the more you can lay into the breaker and take the whole lot right off :o)
I agree with the scraper. I use a very similar one myself.
Question Author
Thanks a lot for all your suggestions. I have passed them on to he who thinks he is obeyed (lol). I like the idea of one of those thin wide chisels. These tiles are laid on a solid flloor so not too worried about staining or scratches etc,
This is the one I use ..

(notice it states lino?)
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Wow that is seriously heavy duty. I'll show him that in the morning. Many thanks.
They are quick .. and not too heavy .. maybe 5-6 Kg.
You can sometimes do a deal over weekend or on Fridays .. Collect and return in afternoon for a bit of day-rate discount.
Maybe you actually have thermoplastic tiles? Poular in 50's/60's .. streaky.. some people used to fit a contrasting colour every now and again.
Plenty of good advice on removal techniques above.
However just a warning that no-one else has pointed out. Many of the vinyl floor tiles from the 50's and 60's contain (a low level of) asbestos. This is not often appreciated. Removal is not a task that requires a licensed asbestos removal company (because the proportion of asbestos and type is far less hazardous) but there are simple precautions to follow - and that certaintly includes NOT sanded them.
Some good advice from the HSE here about them.

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