How to Remove VCT Tile Adhesive

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Things You'll Need

  • Protective Eyewear

  • Rubber Gloves

  • Environmentally Friendly, Low-fume Adhesive Remover

  • Broom or Sponge Mop

  • Putty Knife

  • Mop

  • Water

VCT or vinyl composition tile adhesive normally is applied in a thin layer to subflooring. This adhesive can be removed with tools and glue/mastic softening products. Since you'll likely be doing this indoors, keep in mind that low-fume, environmentally friendly products are safer to use than solvent-based removers. You'll find these and all the tools you'll need at almost any home improvement store. This project will take at least an hour to complete. Much of that time, however, will be spent waiting for the removal product to work on the adhesive.


Step 1

Prepare your area by removing any unnecessary tools and opening windows for ventilation. Put on safety glasses and rubber gloves and open the container of adhesive remover.

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Step 2

Pour the remover over the adhesive, and spread it evenly with a broom or sponge mop. If the adhesive is on a wall, spread the remover with a clean paint brush. Give it half an hour to a few hours--depending on the product--to soften the glue.

Step 3

Gently scrape (using a metal or plastic putty knife) the softened VCT adhesive off of the subflooring or wall and to one side for disposal. If the adhesive was applied to wood, be extra careful not to gouge it--keep the putty knife angled slightly to avoid this.

Step 4

Mop the floor well with water to clean up the adhesive remover. Follow directions on the adhesive remover label--some may require something other than water.


If the surface feels tacky after it has dried, there may be some adhesive residue left. Apply a small amount of the remover to the area again, wait awhile and mop it well. Keep windows open for ventilation as long as any fumes are present; even environmentally friendly products can have strong odors. If you have a very small area to work on, boiling or very hot water may be sufficient to soften the glue (be careful not to burn yourself). If boiling water doesn’t work, try the adhesive removers.


Before beginning flooring removal or adhesive removal, have the tiles tested for asbestos--especially if your home is an older home. Fumes from some removers--especially solvent-based removers--are extremely flammable.


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