Tips on Removing Vinyl Flooring

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Removing vinyl flooring is necessary, in most cases, when you want to lay new flooring down. Doing this yourself will take a considerable amount of time. It is important to work carefully so you have the best foundation possible on which to lay your new floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Chisel
  • Paint stripper (optional)
  • Gloves
  • Respirator
  • Sander
  • 600 grit sandpaper
  • Use a utility knife to slice the vinyl flooring into strips or pieces that are easy to work with and remove. Generally, strips that are about 8-inches wide are ideal and make for easy removal and disposal. You can cut strips as you work, if desired.

  • Slide a putty knife under each strip to remove it. In some cases, you may have to scrape the vinyl from the floor. This is especially true with flooring that is full bonded, which means that the entire floor had adhesive applied to it before the floor was laid.

  • Look at the sub-floor to see if there is any adhesive remaining. If you see any remaining, use a chisel to remove it. As an alternative, you can use paint stripper. If you do this, open all of the windows in the room to ventilate the area and wear a mask or respirator.

  • Sand the floor. You can do this using a floor sander. If a floor sander is unavailable, you can use an automatic hand sander or sand the area by hand using 600-grit sandpaper. The sub-floor should be as smooth as possible to allow the new flooring to adhere properly and look as even as possible.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can use dry ice to remove vinyl flooring. This is a good option if you know that the adhesive contains asbestos. To do this, you must wear gloves and place chunks of dry ice onto the vinyl flooring until that area is frozen, then chip off the flooring. In some areas, dry ice is illegal to possess without a permit.
  • If the vinyl flooring could have been laid prior to 1980, there is a chance that the adhesive contains asbestos. Because of this, you should use extreme caution in removing it. At a minimum, wear clothes you can throw away, a respirator and gloves. You should shower as soon as you are done removing the flooring.
  • Photo Credit Courtesy of L. Kelley
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