Removing Tile Adhesive From Concrete

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  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • $40-90
What You'll Need
Hot water
Floor scraper
Adhesive remover
Grinder and sandpaper
Floor sander
Safety gear

Removing tile adhesive from any surface can be a daunting task. If there is adhesive on your concrete floor, you will have a hard time dealing with it, especially if it has been stuck on there for some time. Concrete is a rather harsh material, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to remove tilde adhesive from it because the mastic can become rock hard.

Getting the glue out is possible if you have the proper tools and are willing to combine different methods to thoroughly complete the job. Willingness and determination are necessary if you want to have results. The following suggestions cover a few simple steps of true and tried methods of removing tile adhesive.

Keep in mind that while you can put new flooring over the older flooring without having a completely stripped down and cleaned surface, you cannot place tiles over the older flooring unless it is smooth and clean.

Step 1 – Water the Adhesive

Use hot water to mop the floor where there is the tile adhesive. This is one of the best ways to soften the mastic without damaging the floor. Make sure the adhesive has softened after a bit, then use your scraper to more easily chip away and remove it.

Step 2 – Use Chemicals

If water isn't doing the trick or you have a tough couple of spots that need something harsher, try using a chemical adhesive remover, preferably one that does not emit smelly fumes. Apply it according to the instructions on the bottle, and allow the remover to sit for some time to soften the tile adhesive and chemically make it it more malleable. In many cases, you'll need to wear a face mask while using the chemical remover, since they're often toxic to breathe in. Once the tile has finally softened, simply scrape it off.

After mopping the mastic down with water to rinse away any reside, you can use the chemical removers once more to clean the remaining adhesive.

Step 3 – Use a Sharp Blade

When you work on a concrete floor, you can use a tool with a sharp blade that looks like a razor. This is the exact tool made for this type of job and can help with cleaning the floor surface once you have scraped and removed the softened adhesive.

Step 4 – Sand the Floor

Once you have removed the tile adhesive, sand the entire floor, and then clean it to do work on the concrete flooring, such as installing tile or using it as it is. Sanding is necessary before installing new tiles or other types of flooring. Although some types of new flooring can be installed over the adhesive, a clean and clear floor is recommended for new installations.

Extra Tips

Several types of products for household use have been reported to be quite effective with adhesive. Some common products can easily remove mastic from the concrete floor without using chemicals. Some lubricants can also be very helpful.

In the past, some professionals were using the so-called cutback mastic adhesive to hold tiles. This material used asbestos, which is quite hard and potentially dangerous to remove from any concrete base. If you find it hard to remove asbestos tiling from the floor safely on your own, you should consult with an expert and flooring specialist who can help you remove the mastic adhesive.

When working with strong chemicals or asbestos, wear proper eye protection, gloves, and body wear especially when working with asbestos. Make sure the room you're working in is well-ventilated.