How Do You Remove Adhesive From Hardwood Floors?

There are several ways to remove adhesive from hardwood floors. Which method you should use will depend on how stubborn the adhesive is. WFC is here to answer your questions:

Let’s start with the simplest method:

Using hot water and a rag

This is the first method you should try. If the adhesive isn’t too stubborn this method should do the trick, and it costs virtually nothing and won’t leave behind any harsh chemicals or strong smells.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: fill a large pot with water and heat on the stove until it comes to the boil

Step 2: take a few old rags or towels, the bigger, the better really, and soak them in the hot water. Place them in slowly to avoid burning your hands or causing a splash back that could flick hot water near your face. That being said, make sure they are fully soaked. Use a pair of tongs or something similar to remove them from the water to prevent scalding your skin

Step 3: lay the rags down on the floor, directly on top of the area that is coated in adhesive. The heat will work to loosen the adhesive so leave the rags directly on top of it for at least five minutes for proper results

Step 4: after five minutes lift one towel and to see if it’s loosened enough, if so, rub the floor with the towels to remove the adhesive. Make sure you wipe thoroughly as this will probably require a little elbow grease! If the adhesive has loosened enough it should come off pretty easily though

Step 5: if there are any patches of adhesive left that are more stubborn, try re-boiling the water and repeat the process again. If there are still stubborn patches left, you can go in with a floor scraper to chip away at it. Just be wary of scratching the wood

Using a heat gun

If the hot towels aren’t effective on particularly stubborn adhesive, you can (literally) turn up the heat by using a heat gun.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: set up the heat gun and allow it to heat up for a minute or two 

Step 2: hold the gun directly over the patch of adhesive. You need to get as close to it as possible without actually touching it as this will likely damage the hardwood floor. Continue to slowly move the gun over the entire area until you notice the adhesive starting to melt

Step 3: once you can see that the heat has loosened all the adhesive, then go in with an old rag or towel and thoroughly rub away the adhesive. The adhesive will likely dry and go hard again quite quickly, so you may find you need to keep reheating it until it is all wiped away

Step 4: repeat the process until all the adhesive is removed. If you are really struggling to get a stubborn patch of it up, go in with a floor scraper, and gently chip away at it, making sure you don’t damage the floor

Using a sander

If it’s just a small patch of adhesive you may find just using a piece of sandpaper and some elbow grease will be enough to get rid of it. Alternatively, if it’s a larger area of stubborn adhesive, you’ll be better able to remove it using an electric sander.

This method will likely take longer and could be expensive if you don’t already own an electric sander. But, this method will produce the best results and be the safest way to preserve the hardwood. 

Using ice

Step 1: put a few cubes of ice inside a plastic bag (anything thin and waterproof will work fine), and place on top of the area covered with adhesive

Step 2: leave the ice to work on top of the adhesive for about five minutes, then take a floor scraper to break up the adhesive

Step 3: use a clean rag, dipped in warm soapy water to wash away the residue. If you notice any patches that haven’t come away, repeat the process until all the adhesive is removed

Using a chemical remover

If none of the above chemical-free methods are working, the next best thing is to purchase a chemical adhesive removal product. These are widely accessible at hardware stores etc. and aren’t very expensive.

If you’re dealing with super tough adhesive residue from things like flooring, this is probably the method that will deliver the best results.

The only downside to using these chemical removers is that they are very strong and should be used with caution.

So, make sure you wear protective gloves to prevent burns, and you should fully ventilate the room if you can to prevent breathing in too much of the fumes. If you can’t ventilate the room, you should wear a mask.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: test the product out on a small patch of adhesive to see how strong it is, so you can gauge how much to use on the entire area. You also do this to make sure it’s not going to damage or stain the hardwood

Step 2: you’ll need to follow the instructions provided on the product packaging for best results, but start out with a small amount of product (it’s better to have to add more than accidentally add too much that will be hard to get rid of). Then, using an old rag or a sponge, rub the product all over the adhesive area

Step 3: once the entire adhesive area has been coated with the remover, leave it to work for as long as the product instructions tell you to. If you don’t have an instructions manual, it’s normally best to leave it sit for at least five minutes, so it can properly loosen the adhesive

Step 4: take your floor scraper and scrape away at the loosened adhesive