When purchasing a house, the biggest downfall is that you don't get to customize what's already in the home. What you see is what you get. This is especially upsetting when it involves something as important as flooring choices.
Not everyone has the same tastes in flooring, so if you purchase a house with tiled floor and you'd have preferred hardwood, you're stuck with the task of removing all those tiles. While the tiles may prove difficult, what will be a test of patience is the glue beneath every single tile.
Removing the Tiles
The first step to reaching the floorboards underneath is to remove the tiles. This will take some simple tools and a little bit of elbow grease, but it can be accomplished without the help of a professional. Depending on how easy the tiles are to pry up, you may need either a crowbar or chisel and hammer to pop the tiles off the floor. The difficulty behind removing the tiles lies with the glue that was used to hold them in place. If the glue has a very strong hold, you may even need to cut the tiles and pry them up piece by piece to get them off without damaging the flooring underneath.
Removing Adhesive Residue From Wood Floors
Once all the tiles are removed, you'll likely be faced with the challenge of removing adhesive residue from the wood floors. Depending on the type of glue, this might not be an easy task. Thin-set mortar, such as mastic, is an adhesive that dissolves when it comes into contact with water. If you think the adhesive is mastic, lay wet cloths over the adhesive and wait. It should disintegrate, making it easy to wipe away and move on to the next renovation step.
If the glue isn't mastic, try removing it by scraping at the adhesive with a putty knife. It's possible that the glue doesn't come off. This is probably because the glue used to secure vinyl tiles gets stronger over time. Try loosening the grip of the glue by applying heat.
The key to this trick isn't to apply the heat directly to the glue but near the glue so that it becomes soft and malleable again. Some people succeed by using a clothes iron and having it hover over the glue before attempting to scrape at it again.
If all else fails, run to your local hardware store. You can purchase an adhesive solvent that will break down the glue, making it easier for you to remove. Remember that the solvent is filled with various chemicals, so make sure that the area in which you need to apply it is well ventilated. Apply the solvent and let it rest for an hour before attempting to remove the glue once more.
Before selecting which method you'll use to remove the tile adhesive, assess what type of flooring is beneath the tiles. If it's a beautiful hardwood floor, consider sanding the glue adhesive from the wood floor to keep it in the best condition possible. If you apply harsh chemicals or spend time scraping at the glue, it may damage the wood flooring.
Also, keep in mind that if your home was built in the early 1980s or before, there's a chance that asbestos could be hiding in the adhesive used to lay the tiles. A strong indicator is if the adhesive has a black and tar-like appearance. Before doing any additional removal, have the glue tested. If the results are positive, continue only under the supervision of professionals.