How to Remove Glued Down Linoleum or Vinyl from a Wood Floor

By: Danny Lipford

I have hardwood floors that have been covered with linoleum. How can I remove the linoleum without damaging the wood underneath? -Hernando

Hi Hernando,

Glued down linoleum and vinyl flooring can be removed from a wood floor without causing too much damage to the wood, if you’re prepared for a fair investment of time and elbow grease. Here’s how to go about it.

Test for Asbestos

If the floor has been around for a number of years, you should purchase an asbestos test kit first, since asbestos was an ingredient in some adhesives used to install linoleum. If the test is negative for asbestos, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Remove Linoleum or Vinyl Flooring

Start by pulling up as much of the linoleum or vinyl flooring as you can. Since it’s easier to work with smaller strips, it helps if you score the linoleum or vinyl with a razor knife into 12” wide strips.

A helper can speed the process by using a floor scraper to pry under the linoleum strips while you’re pulling on them. Once all the linoleum has been removed, it’s time to work on getting up the adhesive.

Remove Adhesive

There are chemical adhesive solvents on the market, but my concern is that they would soak into the hardwood. I would try working on small areas at a time by pouring boiling water on the adhesive and letting it sit for about ten minutes.

Once the adhesive is loose, use a floor scraper to remove as much of it as you can.

Sand and Refinish Wood Floor

After the adhesive has been removed, allow ample time for the floor to dry. Once the floor is completely dry, rent a floor sander and edger to sand the floor smooth and remove any traces of adhesive.

Finally, vacuum up all the dust, wipe the floor down, and finish with several coats of polyurethane.

Good luck with your project,

Danny

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16 Comments on “How to Remove Glued Down Linoleum or Vinyl from a Wood Floor”

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  • Pat Says:
    March 11th, 2016 at 1:56 am

    I had water insoluble glue, most likely has asbestos, on a hardwood floor. After much testing the best method I found is using a product called Citristrip Adhesive Remover. The iron or steamer works but takes forever, plus working in a sealed room with full safety gear is not good. If you didn’t get it off fast enough it would make it harder to remove, like it gets cured or something.

    Citristrip isn’t cheap but is a lot more effective and safer to use than the usual strippers. Also it doesn’t evaporate quickly, you can leave it for hours and come back to it to and stays as a gel coating so helps contains fibres. It removes any old varnish as well which saves a lot of sanding back.

    Tips: Best scraper I’ve found when using an iron is a blunt wood chisel, at least for hardwood. All the other scrapers are either too flexible or break from the amount of pressure needed, yes it is that hard. My last resort after Citristrip was just getting an old planer and taking off some wood with it.

    For removing staples or tacks get a pair of vise grips (pliers that lock in place, grip the staple and slowly roll it back. In my case it was rusted narrow staples in some of the toughest hardwood you can get, some will break and you have to just punch them down before sanding.



  • Shirley Fox Says:
    January 20th, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Is there a paint on substance I can put over the thin layer of glue to make it a non-sticky surface to put new vinyl on?



  • Maria Hylla Says:
    January 17th, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    I have wood floor, someone glued plywood down I want to pull up and refinish the original wood floor. How do I pull up plywood? Can you help me please?



  • Anita Says:
    September 21st, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I need some urgent advice. My carpenter says since our Lino in our kitchen is glued and nailed it’s difficult to remove it, so he is going to lay the engineered hardwood which is done by a click over it. Do you think it’s a good idea?


  • Official Comment:


    Ben Erickson Says:
    September 2nd, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Deborah,
    Asbestos Test Kits are available online or at home centers (Home Depot sells one you can order at homedepot.com online), or you can take the material to a local testing company to have it tested for asbestos.



  • Deborah Gillette Says:
    September 1st, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Where do we get an asbestos tester, and how do we remove adhesive if it has asbestos in it?



  • Felicia Says:
    August 18th, 2015 at 11:20 am

    If you don’t care about the floor under the vinyl (because it is just subfloor), then take this tip we got from professionals: use a circular saw to just score it in 3 x 3 foot sections. The vinyl and underlayment will come up together and MUCH faster.



  • Ric Grant Says:
    August 5th, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    I’ve applied floor adhesive to indoor/outdoor carpet and didn’t notice it had bleed thru. Do I have a chance of not having to replace carpet, it is only in six or seven spots maybe two to three inches each, but it can be seen? Please be my hero.
    Thanks in advance, Ric



  • mickey Says:
    May 7th, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Can you use acetone?



  • John Says:
    March 25th, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Old Danny Boy got it right. Use boiling or hot water to remove adhesive from a wood floor. A glue gun can burn the wood if you are not careful. Unless you are submerging your wood floor, I would not worry about the wood warping. Simply use a wet rag to sufficiently coat the adhesive and wait the 10 minutes and scrape off. Several attempts may be necessary to get all the glue off, as it is persistent. I use two buckets- one to dip the rag into hot water, and another empty bucket to squeeze the water and glue mixture into as I wipe it off the wood. That way I’m not reintroducing glue into my hot water and making more of a mess. And a putty knife works well at removing the adhesive. Any stubborn glue, particularly in joints or grooves can then be removed with a solvent on problem areas.



  • Vonda Says:
    January 28th, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I am trying to replace my floor and have some vinyl that is glued and can not get it up by scrapping, do you have any suggestions?



  • Dennis Rogers Says:
    January 20th, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    What is the best way to remove adhesive from a concrete floor after old vinyl tiles have been removed.



  • Linda Says:
    January 3rd, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    My linoleum had already been removed and I was left with stripes and odd shapes of unsightly adhesive.
    After reading on another site that a wet cloth and steam iron works good, I gave it a try. It works really well at making the thickest parts soft enough to scrape up easy. This left me with a thinner layer of glue. More steam and more scraping. After working this way for an hour I realized it was the same result with hot water and my washcloth. The iron was put away at this point. I worked on sections the size of my washcloth before moving to a new section. It is very time consuming but the hot water makes it a lot easier to scrape up. When I got down to the thin layer I would just rub my very wet cloth over and over the area. The glue slowly let go and dissolved. Very gooey but worth it in the end. I have more work to do after working for at least 4 hors today. My arms are sore but I will be using a wet scrub brush on that remaining glue from now on. Scrubbing works faster than a limp cloth.



  • liz Says:
    November 3rd, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Where can I purchase and aspestos kit? What if the glue test positive for asbestos? How do I go about removing it?



  • Andy Mckenzie Says:
    October 7th, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    How about kerosene to remove glue and then metholated spirit to dry out the kero??



  • Amy Taylor Says:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Not a good idea to put hot water on the wood, causes it to warp and become very soft. Better to pull top layers of flooring off, then soften glue with heat gun to remove.


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