How to remove linoleum glue from wood

How to remove linoleum glue from wood?

Linoleum is a flooring choice that many individuals choose to use because it is long-lasting.  It can last 25 years or longer!  This is a natural floor covering that is made from linseed oil, rosin, limestone, wood flour, pigments, and jute.  Many people decide to install linoleum because it is made from natural products and has no traces of toxic materials.  

Linoleum floors are very easy to maintain as well.  Therefore, this flooring has been a staple in many homes.  Many homeowners will put this kind of flooring in high traffic areas,  such as bathrooms, hallways, mudrooms, and kitchens.  And linoleum is naturally antimicrobial so you do not need a lot of disinfectants to keep it clean.  A dry-cleaning schedule is often sufficient enough.  

The great thing about linoleum is that as the glue sets, it gets stronger over time.  This means that a year after you have applied the flooring, it is stronger than the day after it has been applied!  So think of what it is like 25 years after the floor has set! 

If you decide to replace the flooring, it may be a chore to get the linoleum glue off from the wood.  You will be investing a fair amount of time and lots of elbow grease to get the task completed.   However, if you follow our steps listed below, you will find the process much easier.  

Now let’s get to work!

Testing for asbestos

One of the first things we recommend for your safety is to test for asbestos.  This is very important to do if your flooring has been in place for quite some time.  You can purchase an asbestos kit in many stores or online.  Many years ago, asbestos was the main ingredient used in adhesives.  Once you have received a negative test, you can begin the steps below.   If your floor does test positive for asbestos, have it removed professionally.  

How to remove linoleum glue from wood

One of the main reasons that it is so difficult to remove the adhesive from wood is because wood is porous.  This allows the wood to absorb the glue over time.  While you may not think it is a big deal to remove all the glue, it is!  Some of the older adhesives used for linoleum floors had oils in them that chemically react with new vinyl to cause yellowish discoloration.  If you do not want this to happen to your flooring, make sure you get all the adhesive off.  Most warranties will not cover if your flooring turns yellow due to old adhesives.  

A second reason you will want to remove the old adhesive is that over time, your new flooring will become brittle if the old glue is left.  The old glue can break, which can cause bumps or cracks in the new flooring that has been installed.  

Safety is always a top concern for any job that you do yourself.  It is no different when you remove linoleum glue from wood.  Use proper eye protection, gloves when applying solvents, and masks to avoid inhaling harmful chemicals.  Remember the old adage “it is better to be safe than sorry”.  Keep this in mind with any project you complete.  Anyone that is assisting you should also take proper safety precautions.  

When you remove linoleum from the floor, you will notice the top layer comes off very easily when it is scraped off.  The backing will be left on the floor, which has the glue on it.  You can remove the glue backing using the same method as you do to remove the first layer, but adding heat to it will help to remove it faster.  

We have found that the easiest method for removing the top layer is to cut the linoleum flooring about 6 to 12  inches wide in parallel strips using a utility knife.  Be sure to not cut all the way through the flooring as you do not want to damage the wood below.  You may then take a hammer to gently tap a brick chisel underneath the linoleum to pull it apart.  It may be easier to have a person cutting and a second person following behind to pull off the top layer.  

You can then use your paint scraper to begin the daunting task of removing the glue from the wood.  

Step 1:  Short strokes

Begin by positioning your paint scraper at a 45-degree angle. Move the scraper forward using short strokes to pull up as much of the backing remaining on the floor as possible. 

Step 2:  Use a heat gun

Next, you will want to heat up the adhesive with a heat gun.  If you do not own a heat gun, you can also use a hairdryer.  This will assist in making the backing much easier to remove.  The heat gun or hair dryer should be held three inches from the floor.  If you touch the heat gun or hairdryer directly to the floor, you risk the possibility of the adhesive sticking to either one.  Once you notice the adhesive begins to soften up, you can use your scraper to pull up the rest.  

Step 3:  Apply adhesive remover solvent

In the step, you will be applying an adhesive remover solvent to dissolve any sticky adhesive that remains.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions located on the product.  The solvent will need to penetrate the adhesive for as long as the instruction states.  After this time frame has passed and the adhesive has softened, use your scraper to pull up the rest of it.  

Step 4:  Sanding

Once you have allowed ample time for the floor to dry, you can sand the floor to remove any glue that you were unable to get off.  Once this has been done, you can vacuum the floor well before you get ready to install your new flooring. 

Conclusion

Updating a floor can be a labor of love!  It takes a lot to remove linoleum glue off wood to have new flooring installed, but once you have completed the process, it is well worth it. 

As long as you understand that the process can be long and tedious going into it, there will not be any surprises.  Depending on how long the flooring was in place can make the process that much longer.  To stay motivated, just remember how gorgeous your new flooring will look and how much longer it will last once you have removed all the adhesive from the wood.  

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