One of the most difficult and challenging home remodeling tasks is trying to remove an old linoleum or vinyl flooring. Even when the linoleum is removed, things only get worse because you’re faced with gobs of old glue or adhesives that seem all over the floor.
Linoleum & Vinyl Flooring Removal Considerations
Removing old linoleum or vinyl is time-consuming and difficult because wood, which is a common subfloor, is porous and so absorbs the adhesives. The reason why linoleum glue must be removed from the wood or any other subfloor is that some older adhesives had oils in them that chemically react with new vinyl and cause yellow discoloration.
The second reason the glue or any other adhesives must be removed from vinyl flooring is that the new floor covering can become brittle. In addition, any bumps or cracks in an old floor will appear on your new linoleum.
It is necessary for homeowners to be aware that asbestos was used in some old linoleum and flooring adhesives, particularly those made in the 1970s and earlier. It has some serious health risks when working with this material. If you’re not sure about possible asbestos, break a small piece and take it to an asbestos abatement firm for testing.
If there is no asbestos in your flooring materials, there are three ways you can remove vinyl or linoleum floors by yourself, depending on the subfloor.
Some Recommended Tools For Removing previous Flooring
Buying or renting the following tools will make your task much easier to remove any vinyl or linoleum floor:
- Wide Putty Knife
- Utility Knife
- Brick Chisel
- Bully Flooring Scraper
- Paint Scraper
- Heat Gun
- Reciprocating Saw
- Toe Kick Saw
- Oscillating Saw
- Water & Dish Soap
Removing Linoleum Or Vinyl Flooring from Plywood Subfloor
When your subfloor made up of plywood, you have two different choices:
- Remove the linoleum or vinyl and glue with a wide putty knife, utility knife, brick chisel, paint scraper, hammer or a bully flooring scraper.
First, you can cut the old flooring into parallel strips about 6 inches wide using a utility knife. You can use a hammer to tap a stiff putty knife or brick chisel under the linoleum to break it loose. Pull up the linoleum in strips to reveal the backing or the glue. Once you removed the surface layer, use a paint scraper to remove the linoleum glue. Using a heat gun to soften the glue as you scrape it away can help you to do the task easier.
- Remove the subfloor and linoleum or vinyl flooring as one piece.
To remove the linoleum and subfloor altogether, drill a hole through the floor to figure out how thick the plywood is. Set the saw blade to cut just 1/8 inch deeper and cut away a section of flooring on one corner of the room. To cut flush against the walls, use a reciprocal saw, be careful not to cut the floor joists. Cut the floor into small sections about 3 or 4 feet long as you continue to remove it.
While this option would be more labor intensive, it eliminates the step of removing linoleum or vinyl glue.
Removing Linoleum Or Vinyl Flooring Glued from Wood
Steps to remove linoleum or vinyl glued to wood is very similar to the process mentioned above.
Firstly, remove enough covering in a corner till you can find which way the flooring runs. Cut 6-inch-wide strips in the same direction the floor runs to minimize any chances of cutting across the grain. Contrary to a plywood subfloor, we have to be very careful as we scrape since we want to keep that beautiful hardwood below without any damages.
Set the utility knife blade just deep enough to get through the linoleum or vinyl. Heat the linoleum with a heat gun and then pry it and the glue up while the glue is still soft. Scrape away as much of the glue as you can while being careful not to damage the floor. Clean the floor very well and then sand away any remaining glue and refinish the floor.
Removing Linoleum Or Vinyl Flooring From Concrete
This is probably the easiest type of subfloor to remove linoleum or vinyl flooring.
Cut the flooring into strips about 6 inches wide. Pull up the linoleum in strips to reveal the linoleum glue. Use a heat gun to soften it, and then pull it off. The remaining glue can be scraped using a floor scraper or soaked overnight with water and dish soap, which helps soften the glue. Finally, use a paint scraper to remove the linoleum glue.
Alternative Approaches To Removing Vinyl & Linoleum Flooring
A very common alternative to removing old linoleum or vinyl floors is to put a new one right over it. If the existing floor is still smooth or can be smoothed with a few patches, then the new floor can be laid on top of the old vinyl or linoleum floor.
If you prefer to place a new flooring type on top of your linoleum or vinyl floor, you have two different options. First, a layer of 1/4-inch plywood is laid over the old floor to provide a smooth base and then you can place the new resilient floor on top of it. The second option would be raising the old floor with a self-leveling concrete, about 1/8-inch thick. The put the new floor on that.
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