Vinyl floor tiles are a common choice for flooring material, and they are durable enough to last for several decades. Once your old vinyl floor tiles look too worn out, or you are simply ready for an updated look, removing them is relatively simple. The process for removing old vinyl floor tiles works the same way, whether the tiles were applied with a separate adhesive or had self-sticking backs. However, it can be a good deal of physical work, depending on the age of the tiles and the overall floor area. If your home came with vinyl floor tiles you believe were installed prior to the 1970's, proceed with caution, due to the chance they may contain asbestos. If this is the case, it is a good idea to have an asbestos inspection before pulling up any tiles.
Step 1 -- Start Prying Tile Edges
Begin with a corner tile, and work the flat end of the pry bar underneath. Lift up gently, so as not to crack or break the tile into smaller pieces; this will only create more work pulling them up. You can use a smaller putty knife to lift up tile corners that are flush with the wall, and somewhat harder to reach. If possible, start with a corner tile that is already been somewhat loosened. Be sure to wear safety goggles, just in case of flying small debris. If you do not plan on reusing your old vinyl for tiles, be sure to dispose of them properly, in industrial-grade garbage bags.
Step 2 -- Soften Tile Adhesive
Once you have worked up a good percentage of the tile from the edge, turn on and aim your hair dryer underneath each lifted tile. This will loosen the adhesive that had been applied to the middle of the underside of each tile; this area is often more difficult to pry up. If you use the hot setting on the hair dryer, be sure not to hold it still in one spot for too long. Move it slowly back and forth instead; this will prevent it from possibly shorting out.
Step 3 -- Remove Remaining Adhesive
Once you have lifted up and removed all of your old vinyl floor tiles, apply your adhesive-removing compound to the underlying floor material, in order to clean off any stuck-on adhesive. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your specific adhesive remover. Some require you to let it set for a certain amount of time, while others do not. For especially stubborn adhesive spots, have some scouring pads on hand, to help scrub them off. After you have cleaned off all adhesive residue, wash the underlying floor thoroughly, to prepare it for the new flooring installation. Use a small amount of detergent mixed in a bucket of water, and then rinse completely. This part of the process can be time-consuming, but it is worth the effort to ensure best possible installation of an updated floor.