How to Easily Remove Vinyl Tiles

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About: Craftsman of fortune. Less is more, and simpler is better.

The previous owner of our house, unfortunately, tried to "renovate" and "improve" the recently refinished and refurbished original clear-vertical-grain fir floors by sticking self-adhesive vinyl tiles to them to create "area rugs" of faux parquet and faux marble. After scraping, heating, and using a variety of solvents, I hit upon this far easier and relatively non-toxic method: dry ice.

Step 1: Materials

30 lbs dry ice
waxed or parchment paper
hand towel or rags
small flexible putty knife


Step 2: Arrange Dry Ice

Open a few doors and windows. Consider turning the fan on. While the CO2 gas from the evaporating dry ice isn't poisonous, it is heavier than air and not usefully breathable. Small children and cats, being closer to the ground, can suffocate if the CO2 is allowed to accumulate.

Tear off a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper large enough to cover a tile and overhang an inch or two on each side.

While wearing insulating gloves, arrange the chunks of dry ice on top of the paper to cover the offending tile. Cover the ice with a towel or two to insulate it.

Wait 2-3 minutes. Read a book, like I did. Often, you can hear an audible "pop" when the tile comes loose.


Step 3: Repeat


Use the piece of paper, pulling on the edge, to reposition the dry ice to the next, more offensive, tile.

Use the scraper or putty knife to lift the previous tile. Often, you can just lift the tile up with your fingertips. Put the tile in a bag or box. If left on the floor, it will soon re-adhere itself.

Step 4: Repeat Until the Floor Is Clean


If you aren't bored enough, attack what little adhesive remains after a tile removal with the putty knife, while it is still cold.

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    80 Discussions

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    Dr_Stupid

    8 years ago on Introduction

    What's wrong with the good ol' fashioned elbow-grease method? We have become so LAZY in the 21st century.

    5 replies
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    aerayDr_Stupid

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I'm no stranger to elbow grease, but I also enjoy using my brain now and then.

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    DIY-Guyaeray

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks to the author for a super clean and no-toxic-residue method without solvents!

    Lack of brain fluid usually leads people to apply unnecessary amounts of elbow grease.

    Fill 'er up, with cerebral fluid please!

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    caperniusDr_Stupid

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Have you ever heard of the old adage, "work smarter not harder"? I have nothing against elbow grease, but if there is an easier way to get the job done, I'm all for it....as long as it does not cost me an arm & both legs.

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    canida

    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is absolutely brilliant! I wish I'd known this while removing the "improvements" from my previous house's floors - scraping was miserable.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    aeraycanida

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Scraping is definitely miserable, that's what led me to this. I bet you'll remember next time though.

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    sampowell

    7 years ago on Introduction

    You can also use a wall paper steamer if the tile is on concrete. You get a bit of water. Use a spatula to pick up the hot, limp tiles. The dry ice method can be expensive.

    2 replies
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    jsadler1

    7 years ago on Step 2

    Poisonous is a misleading concept in dealing with CO2. It is true that it kills differently than CO but if you reach a 23% concentration of CO2 it will kill you. Thirty pounds of dry ice in a small room might reach that level.

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    aerayjsadler1

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    As I noted, it isn't poisonous, but it can kill you.

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    Sunnedaez

    7 years ago on Step 3

    This is an extraordinary idea and I am going to try it on a job coming up. What was the square footage of the areas of tile you had to remove? The job I have is 6 feet by 12 feet = 72 sqft.. I don't think 30 pounds of dry ice will be enough.

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    caperniusSunnedaez

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    make your own at home. it's easy & there are tons of videos online to show you how....or you can just read one of my replies above.

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    EmmettO

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Huh, I've demolition tons of vinyl tile, but never thought to use cold. I didn't realize the glue would be cold sensitive. Still, unless I had a lot of dry ice available, (which may not be unreasonable) this would be too slow for me to do commercially.

    I wonder if it would work any differently on concrete floors?

    These look like the self stick variety of tile which has pretty weak glue in the first place. I wonder if this would work with commercial grade VCT glue?

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    aerayEmmettO

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    These are the cheapo self-adhesive ones. I don't know if it will work with trowel-on. Let me know if you try it.
    As for it being slow- it seems slow, waiting around for the glue to pop, but when you take into account the time saved NOT having to scrape or scrub glue residue off the floor, it's pretty fast.