General Question

Strauss's avatar

Any tips for removing old vinyl tile from a floor?

Asked by Strauss (20452points) September 29th, 2010

The tile to be removed is commercial grade, with a standard vinyl adhesive, laid over older vinyl linoleum. I’ve tried Goof-off®, but I can only get it to work on the edge of the tile. Any suggestions?

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17 Answers

cockswain's avatar

You need a floor scraper. Don’t get a cheap one either, or it won’t work very well. Either that, or lay the new floor over it.

Otto_King's avatar

Just yack it up, no big deal. I’ve done it myself.

rebbel's avatar

Good luck.
I don’t know if you can compare vinyl with a cork floor, but i had to take a floor like that out one time and it took us hours and hours.
We started with simple tools that we had ourselves, but we had to rent an industrial floor chisel when we didn’t succeed.
So take it in consideration if it doesn’t work out immediately.

Seek's avatar

Damn. I wish I had a functioning phone right now, so I could call my hubby. He’ll know the name of the stuff I’m thinking of.

It’s a chemical you pour on the floor, and it literally eats away at the tile and the adhesive, and it makes it much easier to scrape up. From what I hear, it smells awful, but works wonders.

Any jellies know what I’m talking about?

Seek's avatar

@rebbel That doesn’t sound familiar. Then again, the hubs is probably using a brand name when he mentions it.

I will add this, OP – is the tile from pre-1985? Because if it is you should probably have it tested for asbestos before you tear into it.

Strauss's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr It’s from post 2000. I put it down myself in about ‘02 or ‘03. Didn’t tink the wife would change her mind that soon~

YoBob's avatar

Make sure that it is not the asbestos backed composite flooring that was used around the late 70’s. The act of scraping it up causes asbestos dust that is known to cause lung cancer.

If it is the asbestos backed variety your best bet is to leave it where it is and apply your new flooring right over the top of it.

WestRiverrat's avatar

A keg of beer and a big batch of chili. Then call some friends that don’t mind trading labor for food and/or beer.

cockswain's avatar

Dichloromethane is not something you want to work with in your house. I worked with that stuff as a chemist on a regular basis, and you only should use that in a fume hood. The vapors do bad stuff to your lungs, and it’s poisonous. Maybe carcinogenic too.

I don’t know what the proper chemical would be to dissolve the glue. Logic would suggest whatever solvent in which the glue was originally dissolved.

Kardamom's avatar

You should definitely test the old tile for asbestos before you start pulling it up. You may have to hire professional abestos removers if it does contain asbestos. If it doesn’t, check with Home Depot or Lowes, they often have free classes on all sorts of DIY projects. You can probably ask someone there how to properly remove your tile if they aren’t holding a class soon enough for your project.

gurnblansten's avatar

I’ve seen the professionals carefully heat the tile with a propane torch to loosen the glue then scrape ‘em off with a shovel

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I think @Seek_Kolinahr may be talking about methylethylketone “MEK”. That’s what we used at first. But we ended up renting a floor scraper and it worked way better. Jars the crap out of you though and makes your hands go numb!

cockswain's avatar

Floor scrapers really suck if there a nails from an old floor sticking up. I dealt with that once and hated it.

MEK is super flammable, I know that.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Run screaming and pay someone else to do it.

gondwanalon's avatar

First put on eye protection and gloves. Then try using flat edged chisels and a mallet or hammer to start out. Once you have removed a couple of feel of the tile/ vinyl linoleum you can try a crowbar to see how that works. Also try a flat scoop shovel if the tile/vinyl linoleum starts coming up easier. And lastly: have fun!

Strauss's avatar

OK, here’s how it turned out…

As I stated in the question, the trick was to try to get the tile up without pulling the linoleum up. The newer tile is less than ten years old, no danger of asbestos. Some of the tiles have broken or chipped. (But mostly because my wife said to!) The older linoleum was installed when the house was built, circa 1978, so I don’t want to start ripping it up because of the danger of asbestos.

At first, I started working a paint scraper betwen the tile and linoleum to loosen the adhesive and pry the tiles up. This method, while effective, was physically difficult, and very time-consuming.

After a couple of days (yeah, days!) of this I had made very little progress, and was aching all over. Then I tried a wide chisel. That was a little better but it tended to bite into the linoleum, and I didn’t want to risk exposure to the asbestos.

I finally used a variation on @gurnblansten‘s idea of a propane torch. Only I used an electric heat gun, the kind used for shrink-wrapping. It loosened the adhesive to the point that I could pri each tile up, almost intact (not that it mattered about the condition of the tile; it was easier to handle and dispose of). Ass I removed a secdtion of the old tile, I immediately put the new tile down using the adhesileft on the floor and on the back of the new tile.

Here’s how it came out!

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