Removing vinyl flooring without damaging the plywood underneath can be difficult, but it is possible. The first thing to do before you start pulling at the flooring is cut the vinyl into strips. Smaller pieces are easier to pull up than one large piece of vinyl. It is also easier to control. Take a strip and start to pull slowly. Use a putty knife or some other flat blade object to wedge up under the strip to push it along. If the glue is stubborn, you can use a hammer to lightly tap on the blade.
The glue can be a real issue when removing vinyl from plywood. Glue derived from a tar base can be loosened with mineral spirits which is a type of solvent. A heat gun can also be purchase to warm up the adhesive. When it is warm, it will loosen and become easier to remove.
Be careful when removing old vinyl. Vinyl used in the past had oils in the glue that could stain through to new vinyl if not completely removed before new flooring is put down. Also some vinyl used a type of adhesive that contained asbestos. If you aren't sure of the ingredients in the glue, it would be best to take a sample to a testing center before starting the project.
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