How To's

How to Remove Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring

What can we say? We think vinyl and linoleum flooring is just a little outdated. If you do happen to have a kitchen full of dingy linoleum from the 70’s, don’t hide your face in shame. Here’s a how-to for removing vinyl and linoleum flooring: 

While it might seem like you can just pull the top layer nicer than an orange, just peeling will leave you with spots of rock hard glue that’s cemented itself to your subflooring. Pulling and scrapping vinyl flooring is easier said than done. But don’t despair, there’s hope. With just a little bit of elbow grease and some safety precautions, doing a good ole DIY job can have your home vinyl free.

How to Remove Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring |YLiving

Steps to remove vinyl or linoleum floor: 

Prepare your area– If the floor is more than 20 years old, it likely has asbestos, which isn’t a show-stopper, but does mean you need to take appropriate precautions to minimize your risk of inhalation.

  • Hang up Door Curtains to help keep things contained.
  • Tape up any built-in cabinets, heating vents, etc with plastic.
  • Set up a fan blowing out to help ventilate the space.

How to Remove Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring |YLiving

Prepare yourself– similar to above, to help limit risk of exposure. Sources online say removing an old floor of this size has the potential for the same respiratory risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes; definitely not something you want in your lungs, but not so dangerous it should scare you away from the project.

  • Tyvek Painting overalls
  • A good Respirator
  • Gloves
  • Eye Protection
  • Knee pads

Tools Needed

  • Xacto Knife
  • Long Handled Floor Scraper
  • Water
  • Disposable Plastic Sheeting
  • Sponge

How to Remove Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring |YLiving
Step 1- Once you’ve prepped your space and have gathered all your tools; using an Xacto knife,  score and cut the linoleum floor into long, lengthwise strips, approximately 18-24 inches wide.

How to Remove Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring |YLiving
Step 2- Using the floor scraper, slide it under the old vinyl or linoleum and begin to pry up the old floor, rolling it up as you go. Depending on how many layers of vinyl, you may have to make a few passes through to get it all up. We had to make 2 passes to remove all of ours. Try your best to stay as parallel to the floor as possible when scraping, to avoid gouges.

After removing the vinyl, you’ll be left with a nasty black mess of old mastic adhesive. If you’re laying a new floor down on top, if things are flat and level, you may be able to leave this and begin to lay your new floor. For our Kitchen, however, we saw the original sub-floor was good quality Douglas Fir (before plywood, the only way to get a flat surface to lay your linoleum was to build a full wood floor), and in order to refinish it, we first needed to remove the mastic.

How to Remove Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring |YLiving
Step 3- Remove the adhesive- After much trial and error, from trying to scrape up as-is with a 5-in-1 tool (kind of worked, but would have taken forever) to chemical adhesive removers (didn’t work at all), to a steam powered wall paper remover (which worked better, but could only do one small area at a time); we finally landed upon a simple method that really worked well:

  • Thoroughly wet (like, with water) a roughly 2×3 foot patch of floor (No need to worry about warping, as long as you let dry completely once clean before beginning the sanding).
  • Lay plastic sheeting of the same size over the wet area and smooth out so it is in contact with the mastic. This really lets the water soak in without drying out.
  • Wait (1 – 2 hours).
  • Lift off the plastic sheet to reuse for the next section, and the mastic should now be soft enough to scrape up with the floor scraper.
  • Any stubborn areas, repeat the process, wetting only the remaining mastic.
  • Clean up with sponge and water, leaving just the bare wood.

Now we’re ready for the power sander! 

If you’re ready to take on the challenge, dealing with old vinyl and linoleum flooring isn’t so bad! Have more questions about to remove vinyl and linoleum flooring? Leave your questions in the comments below. Happy scraping!

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Team Y is a dedicated group of design devotees. We love everything that has to do with modern design, from products like lighting, furniture and decor all the way to interior design, architecture and city planning. What inspired the design? How does it work? What does it mean? We want to know. And once we know, we are constantly inspired to share what we've discovered with others who love design as well. That's Y.

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