How to Remove Vinyl Tiles

How to Remove Vinyl Tiles

If you have a vinyl tile floor, you know how tough it is. But there probably will be times when you need to repair a spot. Hopefully, you saved some leftover vinyl tiles from the installation. Try not to damage neighboring tiles while removing and replacing the bad tile.

Here are a few tips to make the task of removing vinyl tiles easier:

Before beginning, it might be useful to know how old the floor is. In the old days, many tiles and adhesives were made with asbestos, which calls for special precautions. For instructions on how to remove asbestos safely, check with a tile dealer, a state environmental authority or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The most common way of removing an old vinyl tile is to pry it up – you try to get a putty knife in under the tile and loosen it. However, that often means damage to the surrounding tiles. Sometimes heat can help loosen the old adhesive.

Try using a heat gun or hair dryer. Just don’t set the house on fire. Another way to apply heat is with a steam iron. Put a cloth over the damaged tile and run the iron, set on medium heat, over the cloth to warm the adhesive. The heat usually will cause the tile to bubble up. You can then cut into it and carefully work toward its edges.

You can also remove vinyl tiles by using ice or dry ice to make the adhesive more brittle. You might even place packages of frozen food – that you intend to defrost then and there – over the tile. The cold can make the tile and adhesive very brittle, after which a blow from a hammer can cause it to shatter. You probably still will need to do some scraping, however.

Once you get the tile up, you need to remove the old adhesive from the floor. Usually, a putty knife can do the job, although some older adhesives might require a hammer and chisel. If you are careful, you can try one of the adhesive removers available at hardware stores and home centers. Just be careful not to let the liquid get under surrounding vinyl tiles.

Sanding can get up any small bits and pieces that remain after applying the liquid. Once the area is cleared, apply an adhesive by following the package directions. Then place the new tile in position and use a roller to smooth over it. A rolling pin works well. Cover the tile with wax paper and place large books or other weights over the tile overnight.