How to Remove Old Tile Glue

Removing tiles can be a long hard messy experience.
Worker sharpening the blade of a floor scraper to remove adhesive.Worker sharpening the blade of a floor scraper to remove adhesive.
Most of the time it requires you to manually rip the tiles away from the subsurface, avoiding doing damage to the subsurface in the process. Once the tiles are gone, there’s still a good bit of work to be done in removing the old tile glue that remains. The tile glue typically used to secure the tiles usually lasts for decades. As such, complete removal of the glue can be nearly as time-consuming as removing the tile, especially if the subsurface is to remain undamaged. Removal is possible however, with a combination of processes that strips away the glue a little at a time until all traces are gone.

Step 1

Push a floor scrapper across the surface of the glue if placed on the floor. Use a rotary tool with a carbide grout blade to scrape away glue placed on the wall. Rent the floor scrapper from a home improvement store or equipment rental shop. Run the scrapper blade or grout blade across the surface of the glue, using the back and forth motion of the blades to cut through the glue. Sweep up the cut glue and dispose of it according to local ordinances.

Step 2

Remove any glue left over after the scraping on the floor using boiling water. Pour the boiling water over the glue on the floor to soften the adhesive. Wait about a minute for the water to soak in and then cover the water with a rag. Wait an additional two minutes for the water to cool and then remove the rag along with the softened glue. Wear gloves during the removal process to protect your hands from the heat. Reapply the water as needed until you’ve removed as much glue as possible.

Step 3

Remove glue left over from scraping the walls using a heat gun. Turn on the gun and hold it about five inches from the surface of the wall. Direct the heat along the surface of the wall to heat the adhesive and make it easier to remove. Keep the heatgun in constant motion to prevent scorching the wall. Apply the heat for 30 seconds and then remove the softened glue with a putty knife. Repeat the process as necessary until you’ve removed all but trace amounts of glue.

Step 4

Wash the surface with a mixture of one gallon of hot water, one cp. ammonia, and one tsp. dishwashing liquid using a scrub-brush. Scrub the entire surface containing the old glue to remove any residue left over from the removal process. Rinse the surface with clean water and then blot it dry with a towel to finish the removal process.

Things You Will Need

  • Floor scraper
  • Rotary tool
  • Carbide grout blade
  • Boiling water
  • Rags
  • Work gloves
  • Heatgun
  • Putty knife
  • Ammonia
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Scrub brush
  • Towel

About the Author

Larry Simmons is a freelance writer and expert in the fusion of computer technology and business. He has a B.S. in economics, an M.S. in information systems, an M.S. in communications technology, as well as significant work towards an M.B.A. in finance. He's published several hundred articles with Demand Studios.