Archive for Monday, January 17, 2011


Fix-It Chick: Simplify removal of mastic and other adhesives

January 17, 2011


Removing mastic or other adhesive from a floor after linoleum, tile or carpet has been razed is a tedious, labor-intensive job. Using a multi-step approach will make the job a little easier and slightly less stressful.

Step 1: Use a flat-nose shovel or long-handled scraper to remove as much of the old flooring as possible. If you have access to an electric reciprocating saw, Simple Man Products markets 4-inch and 6-inch scraper blades that can make the demolition process a little easier. For large jobs, a heavy electric tile stripper might be helpful. Contact your local hardware store or rental yard for details.

Step 2: Once the majority of floor covering has been removed, it is time to tackle the adhesive residue. Many types of mastic are water-soluble. Begin by carefully pouring some boiling water onto a small section of the adhesive residue. Allow the water to soak in for a few minutes and then use a flat wood chisel to scrape away the loose mastic.

Step 3: Pour a little more boiling water onto the same spot and scrape again with a rigid putty knife, followed by a single edge razor.

Step 4: Continue working in small areas until you have cleared away as much mastic as possible.

Step 5: Mastic that does not soften with boiling water will need to be removed with a chemical adhesive remover. Adhesive removers are very caustic. Keep the area well-ventilated and wear chemical resistant gloves, protective eyewear and a respirator.

Step 6: Apply the remover liberally to a small area and wait 15 minutes or more, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape the loosened mastic away and apply additional remover as needed.

Step 7: After you have a 2-foot-square area cleared, wash the floor with warm, soapy water and move on to the next section.

Step 8: Continue working in 2-foot square sections until the floor is virtually clear of all adhesive residue.

Step 9: Once the floor has completely dried, sand away any stubborn stains or remaining patches of mastic with a pumice stone or carbide rubbing brick. Both of these items are available at your local hardware store.

If all goes well, you should be able to lay new flooring or refinish the existing floor in no time flat.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at


Patricia Kirk 7 years, 4 months ago

Now can you tell me how to get labels off jars:-)

Pat W. Kirk

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 4 months ago

Citrus-based solvents often work well on dried adhesives. Not exactly non-toxic, but much less toxic than some of the alternatives.

matahari 7 years, 4 months ago

A little acetone goes a long way, and please don't ask how I know this. can you feel your lungs burning out of your chest? Yea, it was a personal moment , that's for sure

bearded_gnome 7 years, 4 months ago

baby oil helps...

---corn oil comes from corn; olive oil comes from olives.; Baby oil ... ???

does a superheroine costume come with that?

Shane Garrett 6 years, 10 months ago

Vinyl Floor Sheeting prior to 1980 the paper backing can contain ASBESTOS. Take a sample and send it to a lab and or an environmental consulting firm and have them send it in. Also Black vinyl floor tile mastics can contain ASBESTSO. Again have it tested before one attempts removal.

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