How to Remove Glue From a Tile Floor (4 Effective Ways)

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how to remove glue from a tile floor

When removing a tile floor, you may want to reuse some of the tiles. You may also want to completely renovate the flooring and put new tiles down.

However, one of the issues with removing a tile floor is that some of the adhesive will be left. 

Removing this adhesive can be incredibly difficult if you don’t know how to do it. It can even ruin your subfloor if it isn’t done properly. 

In this article, you will learn how to remove glue from a tile floor. 

Whether this adhesive is on the top of the tile, the underside, or on the floor below, there are many methods. Trying them all and seeing which one works for you can get you the best results. 

Removing Glue From a Tile Floor: Basic Idea

There are a few different techniques for removing glue from a tile floor. They include: 

  • Use a solvent 
  • Chisel it off with a scraper 
  • Soak it in water 
  • Use a store-bought remover

What Kind of Glue Will Be On a Tile Floor?

what kind of glue on tile floor

Depending on the type of tile, there will be different kinds of glue that were used to adhere it. 

Most of the time, you will be dealing with thinset mortar when removing tiles. 

Thinset mortar is a cement product that is meant to harden over time. This is because you need to make sure that water doesn’t get under the tiles. 

Sometimes, tile mastic is used to stick tiles to floors. 

Usually, this adhesive is used on smaller tiles that are affixed to walls. However, in some dry rooms or areas, this will also be used on floor tiles. 

Rarely, vinyl tile adhesive will be used to affix ceramic or porcelain floor tiles. However, if you encounter this, it will be one of the easier glues to remove. 


For tile adhesive and tile mastic, solvents are going to be your best bet for removing them. 

Solvents like mineral spirits and paint thinner will cut through the adhesive and thin it out. From there, you should be able to simply wipe the adhesive away. 

To apply the solvent, put on some latex gloves and dip a rag in whichever one you have chosen. Then, apply the solvent liberally and wipe it up with a different dry rag. 

When working with solvents, you should always make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. 

Chisel it Off 

If you are dealing with thinset mortar, it will need to be chiseled off. 

Thinset mortar is very hard and will be quite brittle. You should be able to pry the tiles up using a pry bar. 

After the tiles are up, you may notice that the mortar has come up in big chunks. This will need to be chiseled off carefully if you wish to retain the tiles. 

Use a paint scraper to remove the thinset from the floor and tiles. It will be brittle enough that you can remove it without applying too much pressure. 

Be as careful as you can when removing the thinset. Applying too much pressure can damage the tile or the floor itself. 

Water Soak

If you are working specifically with tile mastic, you can use water to remove it. 

Tile mastic is not waterproof and will in fact dissolve when it comes into contact with moisture. 

To remove tile mastic from tiles or the floor, first soak some rags in water. Then, lay the rags over the floor or the tiles. 

Let the rags sit on the surface for one to two hours. Then, with new wet rags, you can wipe off the mastic and clean the surface thoroughly. 

Store-Bought Remover 

There are many specifically designed tile adhesive removers that you can buy. 

Using these removers can be one of the most efficient ways to get glue off a tile floor. 

Simply follow the instructions provided with the tile adhesive remover on both the surface and tiles. Then, thoroughly clean the area before laying down new tile and adhesive. 

Many adhesive removers contain volatile organic compounds. Because of this, you will want to make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

faq how to remove glue from a tile floor

  • What is the best glue for tile?

The best way to glue down tile is with thinset mortar

Thinset is not only durable and hard, it is also meant to repel water. This will keep mold and mildew from forming under your tiles. 

  • Do you need to waterproof cement board before tiling?

If you are going to be laying tile in a kitchen or bathroom, waterproofing it is essential. 

You can waterproof your tile by laying a vapor barrier between the cement board and tile. This will ensure that water doesn’t get underneath the tile. 

  • Can you tile straight onto cement board?

If you are going to be laying tile in a dry area, it is fine to tile straight onto cement board. 

However, if there is any chance that water could get on the tiles, it is a good idea to waterproof it. This will take a bit longer but combining it with sealant will ensure that your floor will be protected. 


Removing glue from a tile can be difficult if you don’t know how to do it properly. 

All of the above methods will be acceptable and will allow you to save the tile. By using these techniques, you can keep your floor in good condition and even keep the old tile. 

Photo of author


Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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