Self Adhesive Vinyl Flooring Removal

Self adhesive vinyl tile is a popular floor covering due to easy installation and care. But is it as easy to remove?

Is removal necessary?

Before beginning the laboring task of removing your vinyl floor, be sure that removal is necessary. If you are installing new flooring, you might be able to install the new floor over the existing vinyl. For example, laminate flooring can be installed over well-bonded vinyl. New sheet vinyl or vinyl tiles can be installed over old vinyl if it is well bonded and if the surface is in good condition. If the old vinyl has a heavily textured surface or is gouged, you can simply apply a coat of embossing leveler to create a smooth surface for the new vinyl. You can almost always install a layer of plywood or cement board over your existing floor to create a new surface for your new floor, eliminating the need to remove the exiting material. This method will slightly raise your floor level, but it might be necessary to properly isntall your new floor. Check the manufacturer's recommendations to determine the appropriate subfloor for your new flooring material.


Vinyl flooring manufactured prior to the mid-1980s could contain asbestos. It is recommended that you have your flooring material tested before attempting removal. Any materials containing asbestos should be removed by a professional. Even if you do not suspect asbestos, you might want to wear a respirator or mask when removing any flooring to prevent inhaling excessive dust and airborne particles. Create sufficient ventilation in your work area by opening doors and/or windows and positioning fans as necessary.

Removing the Flooring

Removing self adhesive vinyl tiles is not an easy job. It requires some elbow grease and a lot of patience. The easiest way to remove the tiles is with heat and a strong scraper. When heat is applied to the tile, the adhesive under the vinyl becomes more pliable and does not bond as well to the floor. You might be able to sufficiently heat the tile using a common household hair dryer. If more heat is required, an electric heat gun should do the job. Be careful when using a heat gun""it will produce high heat and can scorch both you and the floor.

Removing the Adhesive

After you remove all the tiles, you will be left with adhesive residue. Depending on how well the floor was installed, you might have quite a lot to remove. Some vinyl installers use additional spread adhesive when installing self adhesive tiles, which could leave more residue. If you are trying to save the flooring under the vinyl, you may or may not damage it while removing the adhesive. You will have to take your chances and repair damage later, if possible. Common suggestions for adhesive removal include scrubbing with mineral spirits, and softening with hot water or steam. The recommended method for removing the adhesive residue is to visit your local hardware store, purchase a flooring adhesive remover, and follow the manufacturer's directions. Most will require applying the chemical product to the adhesive, allowing it to sit for a period of time to soften the adhesive, then scraping up the residue.

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