Linoleum may have been all the rage in the 1940s and 1950s, but it first made an appearance as a home flooring in the late 19th century. Before the advent of vinyl or laminated wood flooring, linoleum was considered desirable for several reasons. For one thing, it was inexpensive. For another, it was highly resilient and held up well in high traffic areas.
If you have an older home that has linoleum floors, you may be challenged by much more than an outdated color or pattern. It can be considerably time consuming and difficult to remove linoleum flooring. The biggest obstacle most homeowners encounter when they remove linoleum flooring is cleanly separating it from the subfloor. That’s because the glue used to secure the linoleum in place often bonds so completely to the subfloor that it actually becomes absorbed. However, if you need to remove linoleum from concrete, your task may be a bit easier.
Another consideration is how the linoleum was glued down. Usually, the entire subfloor is covered in glue prior to laying down linoleum. However, sometimes only the outer edges of the floor were covered with glue. The latter doesn’t necessarily make it easier to remove, but it should take less time.
To begin to remove linoleum, first cut the linoleum into strips with a utility knife. This step should be followed regardless of the type of subfloor underneath. Next, pour boiling water over the linoleum and wait a few minutes. This will help to soften the glue and enable you to roll up the pre-cut strips. This process is a bit messy, so you may want to work in sections rather than tackle the entire floor at once.
If the subfloor is made of wood instead of concrete or plywood, and you wish to preserve it, you should use an alternate method of heating and softening the glue. One way is to use a heat gun and, again, work in sections as you remove linoleum in strips. In addition, exercise care when cutting the linoleum into strips and always cut in the direction of the wood grain.
Once you are able to remove all of the linoleum, you will need to go back to work on areas where there is glue residue remaining. The glue will be quite hard, so you will need a scraper to remove it. After you’ve successfully removed all the glue, you may then smooth out the subfloor with an electric or pneumatic sander. Otherwise, if you have opted to remove the subfloor altogether, you’ll need to replace it with another material before you can lay down your new flooring.