How to Remove Old Linoleum

When you’re renovating an old house, you might encounter old flooring that needs to be removed. Linoleum is just one type of of such floorings. Well, dismantling something is definitely easier than building it, but old linoleum flooring can be dangerous to remove without proper protection. Join us as we speak about properly removing the old linoleum.

Precautionary Measures

Do not clean the floor with sandpaper. Do not scrape or drill it with a drill or jackhammer. Do not attempt to crack, pulverize or split the existing flooring, its felt base or substrate, or any bitum-base glutinous mixtures. These products can contain asbestos fibers or crystalline silica (quartz). Try not to inhale any dust emitted by the flooring base, as contracting asbestos may lead to severe respiratory diseases and increase the risk of developing lung cancer. If you are not sure that the material is asbestos-free, consider it dangerous.

General Rules for Elastic Flooring Removal

Follow a common set of instuctions while adhering to the recommended rules on removing old linoleum;

  • Do not remove the existing flooring unless there is a dire need;
  • Use a vacuum cleaner outfitted with removable HEPA filter, dust bag and metallic floor nozzle. Do not use any brushes;
  • Use cleaning solutions when removing the roll-based floorings. Do not remove them without liquid cleaning solutions;
  • Any felt base must be removed with special cleaning solution;
  • Tiles must be humidified before you’ll attempt to remove them (unless you’re going to use heat during the removal process);
  • All materials must be placed inside firm, impenetrable packets at least 6 mm thick, or inside hermetic containers. It must then be moved to a dump authorized to store such materials.

Alternatives to Removing Existing Elastic Floorings

As a rule of thumb, you should only remove the existing flooring if there is no other choice. You should usually consider the following alternatives:

  • Lay new floor upon the existing single-layer elastic flooring;
  • Fill the embossed ornament of existing flooring with special leveling solution (residential buildings only);
  • Lay the new flooring on special wooden lags with a recommended screed.
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If you plan to install new elastic flooring, tile or roll floor upon existing elastic flooring, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s manual. It should contain the instructions on preparing the old flooring for installing new surface upon it. Remove the wax and other protective surfaces with wet method only.

Removing the Elastic Flooring Rolls

What you’ll need:

  • A pair of protective gloves and glasses;
  • Wall or floor scraper with fixated blade;
  • Universal knife or pelican knife;
  • Vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, replaceable dust bag and metallic nozzle allowing for wet cleaning;
  • Portable container type sprayer;
  • Large, durable and impenetrable bags;
  • Liquid detergent containing anionic, non-ionic and amphoteric surfactanta;
  • Earth leakage circuit breaker for vaccum and any other appliances.

Removing Well-Fixated Rolls of Elastic Flooring

  1. Take away all furniture and appliances from the operating area;
  2. Remove all jumpers, edges and fretwork from walls, doorways and other places;
  3. Prepare the detergent solution (100 to 120 grams of detergent per 1 litre of water) and pour it in portable sprayer;
  4. Clean the entire floor using a HEPA vacuum with metallic nozzle before removing the flooring;
  5. Make several parallel cuts in the upper layer of flooring. They should be around 10-20 cm away from each other and around a half of roll thick.
  6. Remove the worn-out layer. One worker should start working in the farthest point from entrance, removing the base from worn-out layer. Another worker should constantly spray the detergent solution to avoid the dust from getting up in the air. If the procedure is done correctly, the felt left on the floor and the rear side of the roll stripe will be completely hide. Do not remove the surface from more than three stripes in a row. Stand only on untouched flooring or clear floor. Avoid standing on felt. Remove the base from the cut pieces of linoleum by coiling the rolls on a core that allows you to control the coiling angle and create the balanced tension. Tie up or coil the extracted material and put it in a firm, impenetrable bag or container for further recycling.
  7. Remove and hermetize each following stripe. Try to avoid the exposed felt. You will have to wash or ditch the work shoes as soon as you leave the work zone. Seal the filled bags carefully and be sure to put an asbestos hazard label upon them.
  8. The remains of upper or lower layer can sometimes stick to the substrate. It can be remediated by scraping the layers in the opposite direction. Scraper with rigidly fixed blade will help you removing or peeling them down;
  9. Wet peeling of the felt remains:
    • Peel off the remaining felt after removing three patches of flooring. To do this, pour the remaining felt with special liquid detergent solution and wait for a few minutes until the felt is completely soaked with the solution;
    • Stand on remaining flooring, not on a felt. Peel off the wet felt with special scraper;
    • If the liquid detergent solution did not soal the felt completely, if the felt has dried up or if you found dry felt while scraping, pour the detergent solution over it again. Place the removed wet felt into the hermetic seal or impenetrable bag immediately;
    • As soon as the floor sector is exposed, clean it with a HEPA vacuum with a metallic nozzle;
    • Repeat the procedure while removing further patches of linoleum;
    • Do the same until the entire floor is clear. Tightly seal the bags and prepare them for recycling;
    • As soon as the entire flooring is removed, dry it up and clean it with the vacuum;
    • Used HEPA filters and trash bags must be recycled separately as stated in manufacturer’s manual;
    • Your floor is now ready for the new flooring to be laid.
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