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How to Remove Asphalt Floor Tiles

Larry Simmons

Asphalt tiles can usually be found in older commercial establishments and basements due to their low costs and popularity from the 1920s to the 1960s. These decades old floors increasingly require retiling, but removing existing asphalt tiles can be messy and time consuming, as well as dangerous.

Very dark or black asphalt tiles may contain asbestos, so check a tile sample before proceeding with self-removal. Asbestos tiles will require professional removal services.

Removal Preparation

  1. Remove a small sample from a tile, and send the sample for asbestos testing. If the sample tests positive, hire a professional to remove the tiles as asbestos fibers can cause severe health issues when inhaled.

  2. Turn off any flame sources in the room as well as in adjoining rooms. You must use materials in which the fumes are extremely flammable.

  3. Ventilate the room, opening all windows and doors. Put on work gloves and safety goggles to protect your skin and eyes from breaking tiles.

Removing the Tiles

  1. Locate a loose tile or an edge tile. Place the edge of the wall scraper under the edge of the tile.

  2. Work the wall scraper beneath the tile as far as possible, and apply pressure to the scraper, sliding it along the floor’s surface and pushing upwards against the tile to raise the tile. Pull the tile up from the floor when enough of the tile has been raised for a solid grip. Discard the pulled tile, and continue to remove the rest of the floor tiles.

  3. Use a putty knife to remove stubborn stuck-on pieces of tiles. Slide the edge of the knife under the tile piece and apply pressure throughout the entire surface of the tile, pulling it up as you move the knife beneath it until you can remove the tile.

Removing the Adhesive

  1. Remove any adhesive left on the floors using denatured alcohol solvent obtained from a home improvement or paint store. Apply the solvent to any adhesive present using a paintbrush. Allow the solvent to sit on the adhesive until the adhesive is soft enough to pick off the floor.

  2. Use a putty knife or the scraper to scrape away the adhesive.

  3. Sand wooden floors with a floor sander to remove any adhesive left behind by the alcohol solvent. To remove remnants from a concrete floor, use a concrete floor grinder.


The alcohol solvent is highly flammable and the fumes will travel from room to room; keep open flames far away when using the product. Check your local state regulations for any restrictions to the removal of breakable flooring material.