linoleum adhesive on the wood floor


I own a older house and much to my pleaser I have found a hidden treasure. I have oak floors under the carpet and linoleum. My question is: “How do I remove the linoleum adhesive(black in color) from my oak floors?”. Please help! I am so anxious to have the oak floors look like they did when the house was built.

Thank-you for your time.



Dear Lisa

It is very important that you do remove all this black adhesive BEFORE you consider sanding this floor. Most floor adhesives used before 1970 had asbestos fibers in them. It was referred to as asphalt cut back adhesive. And sanding this stuff can release it into the air, with carcinogenic results. It’s best to have a sample of this tested before you fool around with it any more.

If after testing you find that it is benign, you can try first cheap paint thinner (mineral spirits) and a putty knife. Try to squirt the solvent under the glue and push it off. If that fails try lacquer thinner (watch the fumes) and maybe a product called Goof Off regular. Buy these solvents in small amounts until you prove their effectiveness.

As a last resort, you can try the safe stripper called Citristrip. You can read my detailed article on this material in the Floored News section. In some cases you can simply strip the whole floor with this stuff. But in the worst case you may be forced to use the most deadly Methylene Chloride strippers (read the labels). I do describe the dangers of this toxin in the article, so at some point the floor may just not be worth saving. You health is much more valuable.

Oh, you should consider having the floor professionally sanded ( they have the proper heavy machines), but do the finishing of the floor yourself that’s the fun part anyway. I have not in 23 years seen a passable DIY floor sanding job yet, and most were so bad that it seriously degraded the floor. It should only cost about a buck a square foot to have it sanded only, well worth it.

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As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor