Wondering how to remove linoleum?

Wondering how to remove linoleum? It’s tough, but doable. Removing linoleum from your home can be quite a chore, a lot of it depending on how old the linoleum was, and the type of adhesive used to fasten it down. In some cases, if it's solidly bound, and not cracking or heaving, some people choose to leave it underneath whatever else they are laying down. However, most home owners choose to start fresh, and that means a lot of elbow grease, no matter which method of removal you decide on.

First of all, it's unlikely that you'll be able to just remove the linoleum and adhesive all at once. What's under the linoleum can be part of the problem, particularly if it's wood. Concrete floors can take a lot more in the way of rough treatment, including the type of scraper you use. Most people will try paint scrapers, although those with a razor blade are usually more efficient. Be prepared to break some blades it if the adhesive is hard, and you're working on concrete.

One tip is not to try and remove everything at once. Many people will cut the linoleum into strips or sections, and peel that off. You should get most of the surface, and likely a good portion of the backing. This will make it easier to get at the adhesive underneath as well.

Once you are down to the leftovers, there are two basic methods to aid your scraping efforts. One is to apply some kind of solvent or remover. A popular brand is Krud Kutter, which appears to work very well from the customer feedback comments. Follow directions on the label of whatever product you employ, and wear gloves to protect your hands. Do a small section at a time, and then move to the next one.

Other do-it-yourself-ers report success with using nothing more than boiling or very hot water. It can be poured directly on the backing and adhesive, a small area at a time, left to soak, and then scraped up. Or you can fold an old towel and lay it on top of a section of adhesive, pour boiling water over it, let it set, remove and then scrape.

One technique that may help you remove them, then, is to heat them. Pick a very inconspicuous area, such as behind a door, to try it. Heat the adhesive with a hair dryer and scrape it up with a straight-blade scraper (like a stiff putty knife with a beveled edge). Move the scraper in the direction of the grain of the wood if you are uncovering a hardwood floor. Have a pan or some other container handy to drop the scrapings into - one that is unlikely to either melt or ignite when coming in contact with hot materials.

You may want to move up to using a heat gun after you become comfortable with this process. If so, be careful not to overheat the wood and scorch it. You should also realize that using this technique may allow some of the softened mastic to flow into the joints between the floorboards. Keeping the heated area small, constantly moving the heat source and scraping as soon as possible will all help improve the outcome.

Keep in mind this trick will never remove all of the old adhesive. Trying to go that far is likely to damage the wood. Remove the amount that will come up readily, sweep and vacuum, and consider your next step. In some cases a light sanding may be best. In other cases you may be able to mop enough of the residue off with rags dampened with turpentine, mineral spirits or some similar solvent to get the floor ready to refinish. If you were going to apply a new covering that needed new mastic, seal the wood and go ahead.

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