Asbestos and Safety Gear
Older homes, particularly those built before the 1970s, are likely to contain some form of asbestos. Asbestos was a popular addition to vinyl flooring because of its fire-resistance and insulating qualities. If you suspect that your vinyl floor contains asbestos, the United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you contact asbestos-removal professionals for assistance. Even if professionals determine that your vinyl floor does not contain asbestos, you must wear goggles, gloves and respiratory protection while removing vinyl flooring.
Manual scrapers are available with sharp edges or blunt edges, flexible blades or stiff blades and palm-sized handles or long poles. Sharp-edged scraper blades cut through layers of flooring and allow you to peel away tough, old adhesive. However, sharp blades quickly become dull when scraped across hard surfaces, such as concrete. Although blunt blades cannot cut through a vinyl floor, they can repeatedly scrape across concrete subfloors without suffering damage. Flexible blades allow a worker to bend the blade's edge parallel with the floor's surface; this position allows the blade to slide underneath flooring. Stiff blades allow the worker to push the tool with more force than flexible blades.
The power scraper's motor drives the rotation of a series of sharp blades that plunge into a floor covering. Power scrapers are similar to rotary garden tillers; the machine's motor assembly mounts to a set of two to four wheels, and the tool's controls allow the operator to raise or lower the blades. Power scrapers are available as both ride-atop models and walk-behind, push models. Although expensive to purchase, tool rental shops sometimes offer power scrapers for hourly or daily rental.
To simultaneously remove vinyl flooring and sub-floor materials, demolition professionals use circular saws to cut through both the floor covering and floor decking. Equipped with a sharp-toothed blade, the average circular saw is suitable for cutting through vinyl floors. However, professionals sometimes use a heavy-duty circular saw, called a cut-off saw, to handle tough jobs. Typically, saw operators score lines across the entire floor. Once scored, the floor may be pried loose with crowbars and prying tools.