Removing Carpet Glue From a Plywood Subfloor

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles

  • Work gloves

  • Mineral spirits

  • Small bucket

  • Rags

  • 10-inch putty knife

  • Heat gun or hair dryer

  • Sponge

Once you remove the carpet and padding from a floor, odds are you'll be left with some areas on the plywood subfloor that have carpet glue stuck to it. Before applying the new pad and carpet, any remaining glue on the subfloor must be removed. Carpet glue can either be a traditional type of glue or tar-based, and you'll need to identify which type you have. Traditional glue has a yellow appearance, while tar-based glue is brown or tan. The same removal methods can be used either on plywood subfloors or hardwood floors.

Tar-Based Glue

Step 1

Put on your safety goggles and work gloves.

Step 2

Pour some mineral spirits in a small bucket, dip the rag in it, then wipe down the area on the floor that has carpet glue. The glue should be fairly well-saturated with mineral spirits. Repeat this process until all the areas on the floor have been wiped with mineral spirits.

Step 3

Wait 30 minutes for the mineral spirits to soak through and loosen up the carpet glue.

Step 4

Use a 10-inch putty knife to scrape any excess glue off the floor.

Step 5

Wipe the area with a clean rag and mineral spirits.

Traditional Carpet Glue

Step 1

Put on your safety goggles and work gloves.

Step 2

Warm up the carpet glue on the floor by applying heat to it. You can use a heat gun or hair dryer. A heat gun can get extremely hot and can burn the wood, so move the heat gun back and forth and keep it at least 3 inches away from the floor. The glue gets soft when heated.

Step 3

Scrape the carpet glue off the plywood subfloor by using a 10-inch putty knife.

Step 4

Wipe the subfloor down with a wet sponge.


Always open windows in the room so you have adequate ventilation when removing carpet glue from floors. Heating the glue and using solvents can result in some toxic fumes.

Mineral spirits can be found at most home improvement stores.