Removing linoleum glue residue [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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02-11-2010, 11:31 AM
I've got a little renovation project going on at my place, part of the project will involve ripping up ~450 sq ft of old linoleum to eventually replace with tile. This past weekend I removed a small section of the linoleum, see pic below. The linoleum comes up really easy but leaves a glue residue behind on the slab. Does anyone have any experience with this? What is the best way to remove the glue residue so there will be no issues with the tile thinset adhering to the slab? Can I leave as is and set the tile on top of this?

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02-11-2010, 11:43 AM
The budget method would be to go over top as is with the best thinset you can get. Should hold up just fine just fine.

A better way and one the overkill guys around here will probably suggest is to scrape down to a film with 4 inch wall paper scrapers or better yet scarify the floor and use ditra underlayment.

Ive done it both ways and never had problems so take it for what its worth.

02-11-2010, 12:44 PM
A good quality modified thin-set can go over "properly prepared adhesive cut-back residue"
Properly prepared would mean scuffed / rough profile to give the thin-set something to bond to.

Dave Taylor
02-11-2010, 01:13 PM
Give this a try.

Fill a spray bottle with water and add a dash of liquid dish soap to give the water a little body.... than spray a glued area several time letting the solution soak a bit between sprayings. Now use a stiff putty knife and see how well that glue comes up.

If you like the results..... use that 4" long handled razor scraper (available at big box stores) and finish the glue removal job.

If you try this.... let us know how well it does or does not work for you.


02-11-2010, 03:25 PM
I just did the same thing and used a wallpaper steamer to soften it up before scraping. It's an ordeal no matter what, though. I had spots where it came up easily and spots where it was a real effort.

02-11-2010, 04:07 PM
I have a room on the side of the garage that previouly had linoleum on it...I wanted clean concrete (like the garage floor) because it was turning into my machine shop area.

I used Acetone on a rag and started in one corner and worked my way to the other. Just pour it on and wipe it up before it evaporates a little scrubbing with the soaked rag gets most of it up....had to make a couple passes to get it all clean. If you smoke, be sure to walk across the street for your smoke break...otherwise you'll be pouring a new slab on which to re-build your house after it blows up and you won't have to worry about finishing the glue stripping job.

Ventilation is your friend...but no fans. Tape all light switches and outlets so that they cannot be disturbed and cause a spark, shut of all rotating electrical stuff in the house, open all windows. Might be best to just kill the main breaker for a couple hours till things air out.

Mine was an exterior job (the structure had been torn down leaving only a slab) so it was a bit safer.

Dave Taylor
02-11-2010, 04:25 PM
John.... Thanks for that info on using a wall paper steamer.

Quite often.... a wall paper steamer proves a chore at removing even wallpaper.... it does not re-emulsify old water soulable glue well enough.

Pat.... acetone is amazing stuff..... but not for a glue that is probably water soluable.... and not on a SOG where thinset is the adhesive of choice for a later ceramic covering..... It’s residue will act as an adhesive bond breaker.

Try that water/soap trick, Justin..... and let us know the results.

02-11-2010, 07:09 PM
i use a bug sprayer with a little vinegar and water.....i mist the floor and scrap it up..............then i flip on the shop vac and suck it all up............let it sit for the day and see them in the the vinegar has just cleaned the floor as welll....killing 2 birds with one stone

Dave Taylor
02-11-2010, 07:30 PM
Cool Dan!

08-18-2010, 09:45 AM
Update: I was originally using a 4" hand scraper but that was taking WAY too long. I don't know what kind of adhesive this is but it is extremely difficult to get up. I ended up renting an electric floor scraper with a 10" blade on it. This went way quicker and ended up taking about 2 days to remove a majority of the adhesive. I found that putting hot boiling water helped somewhat though I'm still not convinced the adhesive used for the vinyl flooring is water soluble. In the original pic in this post you can see there was a lot of white vinyl paper backing left, that has all been removed now.

The pictures below show the current state of the slab floor, in some areas I could get all the way down to slab, in others the adhesive is just to difficult to get up, even with the mechanical scraper.

For tile we will be going with a 12" x 24" Daltile Porcelain tile, I am now looking for specific thinset recommendations to use for this tile & substrate. I believe the substrate is suitable in its current state but would really like to hear from some more experienced folks.

08-18-2010, 10:06 AM
Doing a search I found an old post by John Bridge that stated the following:

I frequently bond to all sorts of glue and paper residue (after I give it the water test).

Make a little puddle of water. Leave it on the floor for 10 minutes. If what's down there is still tight, go over it with modified thin set and Ditra, if that's what you want to use.

Can someone explain to me what the water test is? If water does not absorb is it OK to proceed forward with a quality thin set? I will check tonight when I get home but I have a feeling I will have areas where water puddles and areas where I get absorption.

Houston Remodeler
08-18-2010, 10:20 AM

Place a damp sponge on the surface in question. Let it set there for 20 minutes.

if NO water is absorbed, then thinset will not stick well and you need to scrape off the offending layer

If water IS absorbed and the offending layer gets soft, comes up, gels, bubbles, swells, then it has to be removed.

if water IS absorbed and the offending layer stays exactly the same then you can use modified thinset and tile over it.

08-19-2010, 09:08 AM
Ok I did the test last night and believe I do have some water absorption in areas where the residue is still in place. The water does not lead to any breakdown of the residue and it is bonded extremely well to the slab.

Can anyone recommend a thinset for this application? I plan on buying the thinset and doing a bond test with a single piece of tile.

Houston Remodeler
08-19-2010, 09:18 AM
Versabond will do you just fine.

08-25-2010, 08:51 AM
I did a bond test with a 12x12 tile and Versabond. I set the tile using a notch trowel and let it cure for 36 hours before breaking up the tile. The tile was well fixed to the substrate but after removing I have questions. The picture below shows the results after removing the tile. The tile came up 4-5 large pieces, based on the picture below does it look like I am getting proper thinset adhesion to the substrate?

Houston Remodeler
08-25-2010, 10:53 AM

Thinset takes 4 days to fully cure, but after 36 hours most of the bond has been created. You'll need to scarify that slab. A right angle grinder with a diamond cup wheel will do the trick.

09-07-2010, 05:08 PM
Progress Update:

The slab has been fully scarified with a diamond cup grinding wheel, I want to give a big thanks to Paul for lending me his diamond cup wheel to remove the adhesive from hell! That tool helped a ton and kept this project moving forward. It is great that this forum exists and has such generous and helpful professionals who help us amateurs get the job done.

The tile was finally delivered and I will be setting the tile down this weekend, it is a 12"x24" daltile kimona silk (porcelain). I have the following questions:

- All the adhesive has been removed and water absorption on the slab is now excellent, should I still use Versabond to set this tile?

- Any recommendations on grout width? This is a 12"x24" and we are going for a more modern look. I was thinking either 1/8" or 3/16", any suggestions? Edit: This is rectified porcelain tile.