How and Why, You Should Remove Adhesive from Floorboards

Why is it important?

Removing adhesive from floorboards or concrete floors can be very difficult - especially if the adhesive has been there for many years - but it is a requirement to remove when installing new flooring. When the adhesive dries down, it becomes hard and stiff which can affect the touch and smoothness of the sub-floor. Sub-floor preparation is a necessity as it will decide the appearance of the flooring, in addition to its longevity. Crevices and indents can lead to vinyl molding around it; ruining the image of perfect, level floors. It can also affect how well the new adhesive will stick to the sub or the new flooring. Removing it can be difficult, however, it is fruitful labor that will enhance the appearance of the new flooring – be it laminate, vinyl flooring or even carpet.

If the glue from previous projects is left behind, it can lead to the glue layers building up. If glue layers are building up, it increases the chances of easy removal later on and affects the quality and longevity of future products. In between projects, you would want to remove the adhesive layer to be able to apply a fresh layer of adhesive for the new project so it can stay in place properly.


How to do it

How you remove the adhesive layer depends on the adhesive and how much of it is there. Thin layers can be sanded down while thicker layers would require some heavy-duty and chemicals. The thickness of the adhesive layer is one thing, but the total space of the area being worked on is another. You wouldn't want to be hand sanding down a large room – that would lead to strenuous labor which can be done a lot quicker and easier with machines.

Step 1 – Scraping

Some adhesives are soft enough to be scraped off. It is the part that can be the most intense in comparison to the other steps and is not recommended for large areas. It is better off with small rooms to remove or reduce the thickness of the glue. A small hand-held scraper can be used – this would require blades and these can alternate based on either preference or the device. If a simple scraper is not doing anything, a hand-held heavy-duty scraper can be used which would make the process a lot faster. These machines can vary in price and are not an absolute requirement. You should remember to get spare blades as the blades dull over-usage.

Step 2 – Adhesive Softener

If no more adhesive can be removed manually, adhesive softeners can be used. These are chemical solvents that are used to weaken the adhesive and reduce its hold on the concrete floor. Softeners, like Sentinel 626, are poured over the adhesive and left to soak for a couple of hours before it is removed. Weakening the adhesive allows it to come off with little effort when scraped off. When trying out a new softener, you should do a patch test to ensure that it works on the adhesive you have. In addition, when working on large areas, it might be best to consider doing small areas at a time – the softener can evaporate, which would then be useless. If you do not want it to evaporate, you can spread a sheet of plastic over it and leave it overnight and scrape it later. This method would be best with thick areas of adhesive where soaking it for a few hours might not be enough.

Step 3 – Scrap. Again.

Once the softener has seeped into the adhesive, you can use a broom-like scraper to scrape it away from the concrete. The adhesive should instantly come off and peel away from the concrete. It is, arguably, the easiest step as it doesn't require much effort and can be done very quickly. Once all the adhesive has been scraped away, allow the remaining residual softener to evaporate.

Step 4 – Wash

There will always be some remaining little fragments of adhesive left behind. These can easily be removed by using hot water and a mop. The softener would have weakened the adhesive enough for it breaks apart with hot water. Once all these steps have been done, your concrete floor should be adhesive-free and ready for the new adhesive coat to be applied. If there are crevices and dents in the concrete floor, you should level this out before you apply the adhesive as they would ruin the flooring as well.


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