How to Remove Linoleum Adhesive From a Wood Floor

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how to remove linoleum adhesive from wood floor

If you have recently removed some linoleum, you might have some leftover adhesive on the wood. 

If your goal is to save the wood floor underneath and refinish it, you will want to remove the adhesive. Doing this carefully will help you save that wood and keep everything clean and in good condition. 

There are a few different ways to remove adhesive from a wood floor. Trying each of them can help you find the method that will work best for your particular circumstances. 

In this article, we have laid out some of the most effective ways to remove linoleum adhesive. By using these methods, you can get rid of the glue while retaining the quality of the wood. 

Removing Linoleum Adhesive From a Wood Floor: Basic Idea 

There are several different methods for removing adhesive from wood. Some of the best ones include: 

  • Use hot water 
  • Heat it with a heat gun 
  • Use paint thinner 
  • Sand it down 

Why Remove Linoleum Adhesive From a Wood Floor?

glue spill on wood floor

If you remove linoleum and are stuck with the adhesive, you will want to get it off cleanly. 

This is especially true if you are trying to refinish the floor. Getting the glue off correctly will keep the quality of the wood that is underneath. 

If you are just going to recover the wood with new linoleum, the old adhesive can be left on. 

If you want to make sure that the wood underneath is in good condition, though, you’ll want to remove it. This will get the flooring ready to be refinished and resealed. 

Hot Water 

One of the most common ways to remove old adhesive is to use hot water. 

Bring a cauldron or pot of water to a boil and gently pour it over the glue. Then, with a paint scraper, start scraping up the glue. 

It should loosen with the hot water and will come up as you scrape it. 

Keep reheating water and applying as needed. However, you should make sure that the wood underneath isn’t absorbing too much. 

If you pour too much water on the wood, it could start to warp. To avoid this, use it sparingly and mop it up as you get the adhesive pried up. 

Heat Gun 

Another way to get old adhesive up is to use a heat gun. 

The heat will warm up the glue and make it tacky again. Then, with your paint scraper, you can pry it up and start to scrape it off. 

Just like with the hot water, though, a heat gun can damage the wood if it is applied too liberally. 

Make sure you keep the gun a safe distance from the wood. 6 to 12 inches should be enough space. 

Paint Thinner 

Paint thinner can be a great way to remove old adhesive from your flooring. 

However, if you have a lot of adhesive that needs to be removed, it should not be used. It shouldn’t be used in large quantities and will only be acceptable for small spots. 

Always make sure you are using paint thinner in a ventilated area. If possible, wear a mask as well. 

Dip a rag in the paint thinner and work it into the glue. Once it starts to soften, you can scrape it up with a paint scraper. 


If you are going to be refinishing your floor, you can remove the adhesive by sanding. Use a heavy-grit sandpaper at first, then move on to a finer grit. 

If you have a lot of adhesive to remove, make sure the area is ventilated. You should also wear a mask when using sandpaper to remove the adhesive. 

If the glue is very old, consider getting a professional to remove it. 

Linoleum adhesives before the 1970s sometimes used asbestos in their lining. You do not want to disturb it and get the dust particles in the air by sanding. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Does WD-40 remove adhesive?

WD-40 will remove smaller areas of adhesive. However, it is not efficient for large areas of flooring. 

Spray WD-40 on the adhesive and let it soak for an hour. It should be loosened up enough to remove. 

  • Is paint thinner safe on skin? 

In small amounts, paint thinner is fine to get on your skin. 

However, if you are going to be using it to remove adhesive, it is best to wear gloves. They will protect your hands and keep them from absorbing the acetone or thinner. 

  • Does vinegar remove glue residue?

Vinegar is good for many things around the house. However, it will usually not be strong enough to remove linoleum adhesive. 

This is especially true if the adhesive is very old and has had time to harden over many years. 


If you have a lot of adhesive to remove, you will want to make sure that you set yourself up for success. It can be frustrating to try and remove the old glue without softening it first. 

By following the above methods, you can soften the adhesive up to make the job easier and quicker. 

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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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