How to Remove Tile Adhesive

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Things You'll Need

  • Hair dryer

  • Citric acid-based adhesive remover

  • Dry ice

  • Scrapers

When it's time to replace tile, the very adhesive used to lay the old tile can become a project's worst enemy. Adhesive is strong for a reason--it's supposed to be strong, to keep tile in place and to give you a good, strong, smooth floor. When embarking on a new tile floor project, be prepared for lots of hard work to remove tile adhesive.


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How to Remove Tile Adhesive

Step 1

Take a hair dryer and hold it over one corner of tile. Using the heat from the hair dryer, set on high, slowly move around and heat the entire surface area of the tile. Your goal is to soften the tile adhesive underneath.

Step 2

Return to the first corner and hold the hair dryer in place for a few minutes, then gently take a scraper and work to pry the corner up from the floor. Gently slide the scraper underneath to loosen and remove the tile.


Step 3

After you've removed all the tiles, you're left with the adhesive. To lay new tile, you must remove all of the old adhesive. Using the hair dryer, soften the adhesive and gently scrape off as much adhesive as possible.

Step 4

If substantial adhesive remains, use a block of dry ice. Place the dry ice on top of the adhesive. Wait until the dry ice freezes the old glue. Quickly use the scraper to remove hard chunks of adhesive. Move the dry ice to a new section and repeat.

Step 5

The final method for removing adhesive involves using a citric acid-based tile adhesive remover. This type remover is the least toxic to humans. Soak the tile adhesive by placing a wet cloth over the adhesive for more than one hour. Then gently rub the remover on the adhesive.


Step 6

Use a scraper to remove as much adhesive as possible.

Step 7

Smooth the finished area of the subfloor once the old adhesive has been removed. New glue and tiles require a smooth, clean subfloor.


If citric acid-based adhesive remover doesn't work, use a more powerful adhesive remover.
Sweep and vacuum the subfloor when you are done.


Dry ice and adhesive removers require proper air ventilation. Do not touch the dry ice with bare skin.