Removing Linoleum and Mastic From Wood Flooring

Lead Image for Removing Linoleum and Mastic From Wood Flooring
  • 4-24 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100-250
What You'll Need
Boiling water
Scoop shovel
Power sander or belt sander
Razor knife
Dust mask

When you remove linoleum and mastic from wood flooring, you engage in a labor-intensive chore. However, it is only moderately challenging. When you do the labor yourself, you can save hundreds of dollars a professional flooring expert would charge for the same results. With the right tools and knowledge, you can accomplish this task.

Cover Your Face

It is extremely important when you remove linoleum and mastic from wood flooring that you wear protective gear such as a dust mask and gloves. Some early linoleum installations contained asbestos, an extremely toxic material that must NOT be inhaled. Furthermore, when you heat the mastic and adhesive for removal, you do not want to breathe in any fumes.

Make a Cut

You will need to make an initial entry cut where you will start to peel away at the linoleum flooring material. Use the scraper to get underneath. If a seam exists, peel along it in the direction the glue was applied or in the direction of the wood grain you see revealed below. After you have peeled all the linoleum off the floor, transport it away from the area in a wheelbarrow.

Check with your local hazardous waste disposal officials for the proper and legal means to dispose of the used flooring. You are now left with what appears to be a sticky kind of tar paper. This layer is a combination of mastic and adhesive that originally glued the linoleum to the wood flooring.

Douse It with Boiling Water

Save a great deal of money by ignoring all those hyped-up adhesive removers. Hot water is the best remover. Simply pour boiling water over an area to be worked. Allow it to stand for a few minutes to soak in, but not long enough to cause water damage to the wood flooring.

Scrape the Goo Off

Scrape the gooey mastic and adhesive off the floor, and shovel it into the wheelbarrow or other portable container.

Sand the Wood

After you have removed most of the mastic, use a 50-grit sander to remove the rest. Use an even, downward pressure. Make circular motions, working in about a 3 - 5-foot square area. Finish with repeated sanding with finer-grade paper. If you like the wood floor finish, sanding to reveal the original grain will help prepare it for stain or varnish.

Clean Up

To free any scraping tools of adhesive residue you will have to use boiling water again. Soak them in it before scraping it off and disposing of it properly.