Back in the old days, hardwood floors were very time consuming to take care of. They not only were dust collectors, but had to be frequently waxed and polished by hand, using a rag and lots of elbow grease. It should come as no great surprise that when linoleum hit the market, a whole generation of homeowners were eager to install this low maintenance product over their old wood floors, especially in the bathrooms and kitchens. Unlike hardwood floors, linoleum could be easily cleaned with a mop and water.
Removing linoleum from a wood floor is an easy DIY project. But, before starting this project, it should be pointed out that many old adhesives, and even some types of linoleum were often manufactured with trace amounts of asbestos. Regulations regarding the removal and disposal of asbestos from a residential home vary from state to state, and should be checked first.
If your linoleum tests OK or if you live in a state where homeowners are permitted to remove asbestos materials from their home, this is how it’s done:
Utility knife with plenty of replacement blades
Removing the linoleum
Step 1: Use the utility knife to first slice the linoleum into a 12″ wide strips.
Step 2: Work the putty knife beneath the linoleum, and gently tap with the rubber mallet. Once the linoleum has released from the floor, replace the putty knife with the Wonderbar, and continue tapping while your helper rolls up the linoleum strip.
Step 3: Repeat until all the linoleum strips have been removed.
Removing the glue residual
Removing the glue takes a little more elbow grease, and while there are commercial adhesive solvents available to speed up the job, these solvents are not recommended since they will soak into the floor. Removing glue residual safely is best done with either heat or water.
Using hot water: Repeat applications of hot water is the more common way of getting rid of old gunk. Whether the water is applied with a mop or rags, the key is to let it soak for at least 10 minutes before trying to scrape off the goo with the putty knife.
A heat gun: If you own a heat gun, this is another effective way of softening the glue so that it can be scraped. A word of caution; heat guns can scorch wood if used too closely.
Once the bulk of the glue has been removed, finish up the job with a good mopping and a thoroughly drying before lighting sanding the surface of the wood floor.