How to Remove Carpet Glue from Flooring

Removing old carpeting can reveal a hidden treasure of beautiful flooring underneath. Unfortunately, if your carpet was glued down, this beautiful treasure is covered with a layer of hard, crusty crud. Luckily, this is removable, from virtually every surface, with the right tools and a good dose of patience and hard work.

Marble, Granite, Natural Stone

What You Will Need:

  • Adhesive Remover (such as TileGuard, available at home improvement stores)
  • Paintbrush or Sponge
  • Plastic putty knife (wider ones will work faster)
  • Plastic Dish Scrubbers
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Old towels or rags
  • Fan (for ventilation)
  • Sealant for your floor type

The Removal Process:

  1. Begin by testing a small area of your flooring with the adhesive remover to be sure it does not damage the flooring in any way. Adhesive removers are acidic, which is not a friend of some natural stones. It may take off the sealant, which can be replaced, but make sure it does not damage the actually stone or you may have a larger problem on your hands.
  2. If the test spot is undamaged, then you are ready to start with the entire room.
  3. Begin by putting on the rubber gloves to protect your hands. You can place a fan in the room or in a nearby window to help with circulation. Sometimes adhesive removers can have strong or unpleasant fumes.
  4. Using a paintbrush or sponge, dampen the glue with the adhesive remover according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
  5. Let the solution set on the glue and soften it. You will need it become sticky before it is removable.
  6. Use the plastic putty knife to gently scrape away the old glue. Be careful not to damage the stone surface. It is not recommended that you use any type of sharp blade due to the increased chance of damage.
  7. When you have scraped off as much glue as possible, apply a small amount of adhesive remover to any remaining residue and wipe away with an old towel, rag, or plastic dish scrubber.
  8. Repeat this as necessary, monitoring the stone closely for any damage.
  9. Once your floor is free of all the glue, you may need to reapply the sealant.
  10. Begin by thoroughly cleaning the floor (for information on cleaning floors, see our articles on cleaning marble and granite)
  11. Apply the sealant following the manufacturer’s instructions on the package.
  12. If this job is too daunting to complete by yourself, you may want to have a professional remove the glue and/or reseal the floor.

Wood Flooring

What You Will Need:

  • Adhesive Remover (available at home improvement stores) or
  • Mineral Spirits (good choice if you don’t want heavy fumes)
  • Paintbrush or Sponge
  • Plastic putty knife (wider ones will work faster)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Old towels or rags
  • Fan (for ventilation)
  • Sealant for your floor type

The Removal Process:

  1. Begin by looking closely at the glue to find out what type it is. If it’s tan or dark brown in color, then it’s probably tar based. For this type of glue, mineral spirits will work to remove it. If it’s yellow color, then it’s probably general carpet adhesive. This is removable with some chipping and scraping and adhesive remover.
  2. Begin by putting on the rubber gloves to protect your hands. You can place a fan in the room or in a nearby window to help with circulation. Sometimes adhesive removers can have strong or unpleasant fumes.
  3. You may want to try and chip away some of the glue prior to applying anything, especially if it’s general carpet adhesive.
  4. Then, using a paintbrush or sponge, dampen the glue with the mineral spirits or adhesive remover according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
  5. Let the solution set on the glue and loosen it. You will need it become loose before it is removable.
  6. Use the plastic putty knife to gently scrape away the old glue. Be careful not to damage the wood surface. A blade can be used to remove stubborn areas, but be sure to use it cautiously, protecting both yourself and the floor from accidents.
  7. When you have scraped off as much glue as possible, apply more mineral spirits or adhesive remover to an old towel or rag and gently scrub away any remaining residue.
  8. Repeat this as necessary, until all the glue is gone.
  9. You may want to mop the area with plain water and let dry completely.
  10. Before sanding or using any electrical equipment in the room, let the flooring dry and the room air out for 24 hours.
  11. If this job is too daunting to complete by yourself, you may want to have a professional remove the glue and/or refinish the floor.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • When looking for adhesive removers, first check the companies that make the adhesives. They often make a remover as well.
  • Adhesive removers are generally solvent based. This means they are highly flammable and the fumes are toxic so you may want to wear a face mask and ensure good ventilation.

Comments

  1. Daphney says:

    I need to remove old glue on the wooden floors. Do you have an idea of precisely what to use for that?

  2. Ellen says:

    My sister-in-law swears by using a plastic putty knife and a heat gun – she recommended to me to buy the Black & Decker one – it is inexpensive and she still uses it today (10 years later). She did both her dining room and living room with this method and stated it worked great. If you have issues with fumes as I do, there is a brand of Orange adhesive remover that you can use for the tougher spots and it is a little easier on the nose, but I still would recommend using a mask.

  3. Kyle says:

    If the glue is yellow, use ammonia at full strength. Just pour it on and let it level itself out, do not spread it thin. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes, then scrape off with a heavy duty scraper. Tungsten carbide scrapers are available at Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams and are worth the investment. Push/pull scrapers also work well. Ammonia is much cheaper than industrial adhesive removers. If you decide to use paint remover or industrial adhesive remover, put it on very thick and cover it with wax paper, this will prevent it from fuming as bad and drying out. It can even be left over night in this state. Use adequate ventilation and a canister type respirator when using ammonia or any industrial solvent. Once the majority of the glue is removed you can sand. Hope this helps.

  4. Mike says:

    I have been told that a commercial type round sander would sand the glue off, is this possible? I am just going to lay down a vinyl floor.

  5. Fred says:

    I had carpet glue on my boat seats and on my porch floor. I did everything, guess what really worked? OVEN CLEANER – EASY OFF. I sprayed it on, waited overnight and the next day I was in shock! I took a scraper and up it came, like butter! This saved me days of work and did not take the paint off.

  6. Digger says:

    I see several references to wearing a mask to protect yourself from fumes. The masks that you would find in the hardware store offer NO protection from fumes or asbestos (found in pre-1990′s floor and ceiling tiles). The canister masks mentioned can also be dangerous if not fitted properly or not equipped with the proper canister. These respirators also can trigger a heart attack if you have underlying heart problems, so just keep this in mind when using toxic or flammable solvents indoors.

  7. DC says:

    Thanks, I found some interesting things here from some of you. About the Easy-Off oven cleaner to take glue off a wood floor, I hope it might work, as my whole floor is covered in carpet glue. What an idiot who laid it over my wood floors, and I was dumb enough to not think about it until it was too late. I have allergies and can’t breath anything toxic, and do not have enough money to pay someone to get the glue off. I will try the Easy-Off, and then the orange stuff that someone said was not too toxic. I hope it comes off. I also have had carpal tunnel surgery, so my wrist is not quite strong enough to be scraping too hard. Thank you for the hints, everyone.

  8. Jennifer says:

    The oven cleaner worked great! Some idiot carpenter glued carpet with no padding all over my cherry wood floor!

  9. Al says:

    I have had carpet laid recently, charcoal in color, loop pile, and the carpet layers have left behind a small spot of orange glue right in the middle of the room! Any tips out there on how to remove carpet glue from carpet?

  10. Renee says:

    I am absolutely amazed – I tested the Easy Off Oven Cleaner on a tile (our toilet floor area was covered in carpet glue from a mat we were using) and within ten minutes it was coming off like butter – just like Fred said!

  11. Ruby says:

    Can the oven cleaner be used on carpet glued to vinyl tile?

  12. Peter says:

    On larger areas, before going down the chemical roads, try a decent steam stripper on the old, yellow carpet glue. It’s worked countless times for me. Environment friendly and not expensive.

  13. Tammy says:

    Thanks for the tips!
    I’m a single mother and my life has to revolve around googling.
    I will be trying the Easy Off tomorrow. I pray it works; this is for a room area. :/

  14. Karen says:

    Can I use oven cleaner on linoleum flooring?

  15. Sean says:

    Tricky job that many think may be impossible without a professional, but your instructions are spot on.

  16. Gene says:

    I have carpet padding glued to vinyl flooring. I’m trying to remove the padding and the glue. HELP!

  17. Oscar says:

    I removed the carpet because it got wet. One thing I noticed is that on the areas the carpet was still wet, the glue came off along with the carpet, it stuck to the carpet, but in the areas where it was dry, it stuck to the floor. Therefore, I would like to advice everybody to do as Peter says: use a steamer as your first choice, mainly because is environmentally conscious.

    When I first removed the carpet, some areas of the concrete floor had glue and some others didn’t and I (being the mediocre person I am) painted over the glue… but now I would love to remove the glue along with the paint over it, is there any advice on that?

  18. Melanie says:

    Oscar,
    You can try removing both the paint and glue at the same time. To do that, you will need a solvent that is safe for the concrete and can be used to remove both the type of paint that you have and also the glue. Mineral spirits might be a good choice. General paint thinners, such as Lightening Strip, also might be good options. If needed, you can always remove the paint first, then the glue.

    Source: HowToCleanStuff.net – How to Remove Paint from Concrete
    Source: HowToCleanStuff.net – How to Remove Paint from Wood Trim
    Source: HowToCleanStuff.net – How to Clean Old Carpet Adhesive Off Brick

  19. Elizabeth says:

    WOW!!! The Easy Off worked wonders. Husband and I just purchased an older home; the bedrooms have this ugly hard-feeling shag carpet and the rest of the house has beautiful original hardwood. So, last night we started our journey to rip out the carpet in the office, and discovered the floor was awesome, but had that nasty black hunky glue. Was using hot rags and a brush, got tired and did my “Google Queen” search, as my husband calls me. Lol, who would of thought EASY OFF. I use it on my drip pans and the BBQ grill and they look new. Thank you, Fred, for your comment. One room down and two too go. And the oven cleaner is under $4.00 guys.

Leave a Comment

*