How to Get Glue off Hardwood Floors

Andrew Tennyson

Whether you've removed old linoleum, carpet or another flooring that was glued down over natural hardwood, removing the remaining layer of adhesive is a first step toward resurrecting the hardwood to a presentable degree.

Scrape the glue off in the direction of the grain.

How you go about getting glue off a hardwood floor varies depending on what type of glue you're removing.

  1. Determine what type of glue you're working with. Two types of glue are commonly found on floors: carpet adhesive and tar-based glues. Carpet adhesive had a yellowish color, while tar-based glues are dark brown or black.

  2. Purchase the correct type of glue remover for your glue. Carpet adhesive requires a commercial adhesive remover, while tar-based glues require mineral spirits.

  3. Apply glue remover to the glue on the floor according to the instructions on the packaging. In most cases, you will spread a thin film of glue remover over the glue and wait a prescribed amount of time for the remover to soak in and liquefy the hardened glue.

  4. Scrape the glue off with a putty knife or similar flat-edged tool. Work with the grain of the wood. Reapply glue remover and scrape again as necessary.

  5. Let the floor dry for at least 24 hours with good ventilation before sanding or moving on to the next step of your refinishing project.

  6. Tip

    Never remove very old glues without first determining their makeup. Some very old glues are highly toxic and should be removed by professionals. Always work in a well-ventilated space and wear a mask when working with glue removers to prevent inhaling toxic fumes. If you're removing linoleum from hardwood floors, consider heating the linoleum with a heat gun first instead of just peeling it off while it's at room temperature. A heat gun softens the glue, which makes it easier to remove the linoleum and the glue.