Gluing carpet squares to a concrete floor was once a popular DIY home improvement project for homeowners with basements. These self adhesive carpet squares were inexpensive and easy to install, and brought warmth and color to an otherwise unused room.
Removing those old carpet squares and glue is an easy DIY project for a homeowner, but does take time and patience.
Before tackling a carpet & glue removal project, you will need a few basic supplies. These include:
Contractor sized hefty bags for collecting the carpet
2″ wide putty knife
Rubber mallet or hammer
Razor scraper or pole sander
Removing the carpet squares
Starting with the threshold, slide the putty knife beneath the carpet edge to locate the corner of one of the squares. Use the putty knife to gently pry up enough of the corner so that it can be grabbed with the fingers and peeled off the floor. Repeat this process with each of the remaining squares.
If the carpet squares won’t budge, they must be chiseled off instead. This is done by placing the putty knife beneath the carpet square, and gently tapping the handle with the rubber mallet.
Removing the carpet glue
While there are many commercial adhesive removers specifically for carpet glues, one of the drawbacks of this type of product is that it will wick into a porous concrete floor and prevent future floor adhesives from bonding. If you plan on replacing those old carpet squares with new carpet, tile, or linoleum, you should avoid commercial adhesive removers and try one of these methods instead:
Chiseling away the glue with a putty knife: With this method, all that’s required is a putty knife and a rubber mallet. Chiseling and scraping away at the glue with a putty knife is slow going but very effective. If you discover the glue to be gummy or has bits of foam stuck to it, a neat little trick to speed up the job is to freeze the gummy areas with dry ice. This is done by placing a 2″ slab of dry ice on a cookie sheet, placing the sheet on top of the gummy area and them letting it set for a few minutes. The dry ice will make the glue brittle and much easier to scrape off.
Razor scrapers and water: Razor scrapers are inexpensive and also very effective ways of removing old carpet glue. A little bit of water seems to help loosen the gunk and make it slightly easier to remove.
Pole Sanders: For large areas, a pole sander with extra grit sandpaper is a fantastic way of removing dried on carpet adhesive. Pole sanders are used like a mop, and allow you to easily sand away the glue without straining your back. It does stir up some dust, so adequate ventilation and a paper mask are a must.
Once the carpet glue has been removed and the bags of old carpeting hauled outdoors, the final step is to vacuum up the dust and then mop the floors to remove built up grime and gunk. After the concrete is reasonably clean, give the floors a few days to dry thoroughly before moving onto the next leg of your basement makeover project.