How to remove stubborn glue from floor surfaces

When removing glue from floor surfaces, there are some important things to consider and keep in mind. More specifically, here are some questions you should ask yourself before removing glue for a client:

  • What type of floor surface is the glue stuck to?

    You will mostly come across glue that is stuck to concrete floor surfaces, but in some instances, you could be working with other materials. In this post (and video on this page), we cover glue removal from a concrete surface.

  • What type of glue are you working with?

    The type of glue you are removing is the most important factor in determining how long the process will take you, as well as the method you’re going to use to remove the glue.

  • What condition should the floor be in once you have removed the glue?

    If you are going to come back and replace the old glue with new glue and another carpet or other tiles, the final finish of the floor is not as critical. However, if you are removing the glue to have a bare concrete floor, there might be additional steps to take to ensure that the final finish of the floor looks good.

  • What are your logistical and planning constraints?

    Finally, it is also important to know how many square feet you need to cover, what kind of ventilation there is, and what kind of timeframes you are dealing with in order to properly plan and price the work you need to do.

There are basically two types of glue that you will most likely be dealing with as a commercial cleaner, so let’s take a closer look at each type and the best practices for removal.

Removing Carpet Glue with Floor MachineBeige Colored Glue

This yellowish, beige-colored glue tends to harden and become brittle over time. It is therefore the easier glue to remove. Here are the steps you can take to remove this kind of glue:

  • Using a scraper tool

    The first thing you may want to do when removing the beige glue is to use a small scraper and scrape the glue off the floor. If it comes off easily, you might want to use this method to scrape off as much glue as you can, so that you can use a solvent at the end to get clean the leftover residue.

  • Using a solvent

    An example of a solvent that you can use to remove any leftover stubborn pieces of glue is Centaur’s Glue-Off. Glue-Off is a degreaser and a lemon-based glue remover that is best applied over the floor surfaces with remaining pieces of glue, by using a mop and bucket. Once the application is done, you let the solvent do its work before going back at the glue with a couple of different tools to remove what remains.

  • Mastic Removal ToolMastic removal tool

    After applying a solvent, you can use a mastic removal tool with diamond blades or brushes to get rid of the remaining pieces of glue on the floor surface.

NOTE: If you are dealing with a larger surface area (1000 sq feet or more), you might want to use a machine to remove the glue instead of doing it manually

Removing Asphalt Glue with Floor MachineBlack Glue

The black glue that you might find on floor surfaces tends to be “gummier”, more stubborn, and a lot harder to remove than the beige glue. In cases like this, here are some steps and tools you can use to get the job done:

  • full force floor chemicalUsing a stripper

    Using a strong stripper such as Centaur’s Full Force Stripper will work to break this stubborn glue down more easily. By applying it liberally over the glue with a mop and bucket, and letting it do its work, you will make it easier for the glue to then be removed with tools.

  • Using blades and tools with a floor machine

    There are a few types of blades and tools that can be used alongside a floor stripper to remove the glue. First, you need to have your end result in mind to be able to decide which tools are best for the work you are doing:

  • If you need to have a polished floor, in the end, you might want to go with something less aggressive, such as a trapezoid or carbide-based metal tool.
  • If the finish of the floor surface you are working with is not so critical, a segment diamond blade tool might scratch the floors a bit but will be able to remove all the stubborn glue.
  • Removing residual chemicals

  • In either case, it is important to take a mop and bucket to remove any residual chemical left on the floor and make sure that it’s ready and clean for the next step in the process.

Pro Tips

Here are 3 things you should be aware of when considering removing glue from floors.

  1. First off, if you are grinding or removing the glue in dry conditions, make sure you are wearing the appropriate kind of mask or respirator while working. Historically, glue has been known to contain asbestos and it is important to protect yourself from any exposure.
  2. Secondly, glue removal can be back-breaking work, especially if you end up having to remove the black gummier glue. So, make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting into beforehand so that you can budget enough time and money to get the work done.
  3. Finally, because you are using solvents and strippers to remove the glue, these chemicals can stay on your machines and affect them over time which is why it’s important to clean all the tools you use after you finish a job.
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