This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Adhesives for carpets have been manufactured to withstand years of footfalls, scuffing, and trampling. When removing your old carpets to then put down new flooring, you may be unhappy to see residual carpet glue remaining on your subfloor. These adhesives hardly ever fail, but it is a result of this that carpet glue can be troublesome to remove completely from a concrete subfloor. The following article will assist you by providing methods of how to remove carpet glue from concrete subfloors with ease and safety.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Carpet Glue?
- 2 Methods of Removing Carpet Glue
- 3 Recommended Carpet Glue Remover Products
- 4 Tips and Tricks
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Carpet Glue?
Using glue to put your carpet down is a great long-term option, particularly for wall-to-wall carpeting. Certain carpeting has its own adhesive backing while others need you to apply glue between the carpet and subfloor. When applying glue, you would normally spread the glue out using a trowel or a similar tool. Most recently, we have seen an increase in the popularity of eco-friendly carpet adhesives, which normally come with a synthetic or acrylic rubber base.
One should note that if your carpet was put in before the 1980s, there is a strong chance that there is asbestos in the adhesive.
As asbestos is carcinogenic, it is a particularly dangerous substance, so you will need to remove it with care. If you are not certain of the nature of the glue under your carpet, we recommend that you call in a professional to assist.
Methods of Removing Carpet Glue
When removing carpet glue from concrete, you have a few different methods to use. We have put together a list of the more DIY-friendly options leading up to the least accessible and more difficult options. A few of these methods require a little more hard work while others call for the use of strong chemicals. We suggest that you attempt the first method and then only move on to the next method if required. In doing this, you can ensure that you do not waste money and avoid having to work with toxic chemicals as much as possible.
A scraping tool of decent quality will help a lot in removing carpet glue from concrete. A paint scraper is perfect, though a spackling tool or a five-in-one tool will also produce good results. To stop you from having to work on the ground, you can use a long-handled floor scraper, but if you do not own one of those, then we recommend that you use knee pads, as using a short-handled scraper for several hours can be torture on your knees and joints.
We also recommend that you wear a pair of quality work gloves, which will aid your grip on the scraper and will stop blisters from forming. Use a broom to sweep away any dried pieces of glue before moving on to the following method. You may be in luck and have success in removing carpet glue using just a scraper, but this will depend on the glue’s strength and the condition of the concrete. You might have to use a solvent or hot water when working with more porous concrete.
If you are struggling with how to remove carpet glue from concrete, you can use the next method in conjunction with the scraping method.
If the glue is old, it might begin to loosen from the concrete’s surface and have started to break down. You can aid this process along by adding a bit of hot water. Boiling a pot of water on the stove and then pouring the water into the affected areas can assist in lifting the glue from the surface of the concrete.
But be careful when you pour the hot water onto the concrete! To stop unnecessary splashback, pour the water from a short distance as opposed to from a significant height. We suggest you wear rain boots and a pair of rubber gloves, which will ensure you are protected from scolding splashback.
Put down a towel over the area of glue and then pour the hot water onto the towel, leaving it to sit for a few minutes. The towel will keep some of the heat, after which you can then start removing the glue with your scraper.
Whether you are using a towel or not, we recommend that you work on a small area at a time as opposed to pouring hot water over the whole floor. If you were to pour water over the whole floor, you might find that once you get to the other end of the floor using your scraper, the water will no longer be hot and will not assist you anymore.
Another option to use instead of hot water is an iron. The logical element is that warm glue is easier to remove than cold glue. Place a single sheet of newspaper down on the area of affected concrete and then run the hot iron over the newspaper until the newspaper is hot to the touch. Take the newspaper away and start scraping at the glue before it has the opportunity to cool down.
You may have to do the process over several times, particularly when dealing with a huge area of concrete. You will need to be careful when you are using a hot iron as it can burn your skin.
You are also able to use a heat gun to soften the glue to make it easier to remove. Use the heat gun to directly heat the glue until it goes soft, and then you can scrape the glue off. Work on one small area at a time to ensure that the glue does not cool down and go back to its dry, stubborn state.
Ammonia and Detergent
Ammonia is a very strong chemical that can be useful in taking the glue off the concrete, but you will need to dilute it with water first. Combine two cups of ammonia with a bucket of warm water, adding a few generous squirts of dishwashing detergent. You will have to wear rubber gloves, a respirator, and goggles when working with ammonia as it lets off toxic fumes.
Scrub the area of concrete using a coarse bristle brush to remove the residual glue. The soap and ammonia solution will cause the glue to soften and allow it to lift from the concrete. Use a cloth to wipe the concrete and then continue applying the solution and scrubbing until you are certain that all the glue has been removed. We suggest that you rinse the concrete with fresh water and a mop once you have finished removing the glue.
If you have attempted the above-listed methods and you still do not know how to remove carpet glue, it may be time to bring out the big guns. To start with, try using acetone, but you can also use solvents such as turpentine and paint thinner, both of which will be effective in removing carpet glue from concrete. Acetone can let off toxic vapors and is flammable, so it is necessary to wear a respirator to keep noxious fumes away from your lungs. You will also need to wear safety goggles and gloves to ensure that the solvents do not dry out your hands.
To do this method, you should use a coarse bristle brush as opposed to a scraper.
Take a quarter of a cup of acetone and pour it into a tray. Dip your brush into the solvent and start to scrub the concrete. The residual glue should be melted by the acetone, and will then lift from the concrete. The brush further assists in getting the glue off the surface. Wipe the surface using a clean cloth and then, if necessary, repeat the process. If you are addressing a small area, you can use a toothbrush instead of a scrubbing brush.
If you are dealing with a glue stain or glue that is very stubborn, you might want to resort to using more abrasive techniques. You can hire an industrial floor sander, which is perfect if you wish to avoid hiring a professional. The least expensive DIY option you can use is a diamond cup wheel coupled with an angle grinder.
Regardless of the machine you choose, keep in mind that this is not as DIY-friendly as the previously mentioned methods. However, if you are someone with a little more experience with an angle grinder or floor sander, then using these will be pretty easy.
When you are trying to grind or sand glue from concrete, we suggest that you wear the relevant safety gear such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator or dust mask. You should also wear clothing that offers you full coverage. If you are sanding, try to not focus too much on one particular area as this can result in an uneven surface that you may then have to spend money on to repair. Work across the surface of the concrete lightly at first and increase the pressure as needed.
Recommended Carpet Glue Remover Products
Thankfully, certain products have been designed for removing adhesives from surfaces. While all the available products on the market may state that they work, many do not in fact perform.
Best Glue Remover for Concrete: BLUE BEAR 500MR Mastic Remover for Concrete
This super-strong adhesive remover gives off almost no odor and is safe to use. It has been designed specifically to remove carpet glue and vinyl and is made from American-grown soybeans. It can also be used to remove both ceramic and asbestos mastic. If used in conjunction with a scraper, it is highly effective in removing mastics and flooring glue.
Best Eco-Friendly Carpet Glue Remover: ORANGE SOL Contractors Solvent
This solvent is ideal for removing carpet glue and is also non-flammable, gives off very few toxic fumes and odor, and is biodegradable. This adhesive remover is the highest-rated eco-friendly option for removing floor adhesive and carpet adhesive as well as silicone glues. The solvent does not contain water, which means it is entirely based on active ingredients. It also contains no xylene, benzene, or chlorinated solvents.
Best All-Purpose Carpet Glue Remover: GOO GONE Pro-Power Goo and Adhesive Remover Spray Gel
This is a tried-and-tested household favorite for removing an assortment of adhesives, residues, and other sticky surfaces. It has been designed to remove adhesives from surfaces such as concrete and is safe enough to use around textiles and carpets without damaging them in any way. This product is versatile, safe, and effective when removing the majority of adhesives.
Tips and Tricks
- Keep in mind that heating glue makes it easier to remove. As the glue begins to cool, it becomes harder to remove, so work on a small area at a time.
- You can also use WD-40 to remove carpet glue effectively from concrete floorings. Just spray some WD-40 on the affected area and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. It might soften the glue and make it easier to remove using a hard-bristled brush or a scraper.
- An option to speed up the scraping process is to use a reciprocating saw with a scraper attachment. When you have a scraper blade on a reciprocating saw, ensure that the flat edge faces downwards and the bevel edge faces upwards.
- Regardless of whether you are using solvents, hot water, or a specialized adhesive remover, we suggest that leave it for a few minutes on the affected area before you start to scrub or scrape at it, as this will allow the glue time to soften.
- While the previously mentioned methods all recommend warming the glue, one can also try using dry ice. Placing dry ice on the adhesive can cause the glue to become brittle and therefore easier to remove with a scraper. You will need to be very careful when working with dry ice, however. Put the dry ice on a baking tray and put it on top of the area of concern. Leave it for a few minutes and then try scraping the glue off.
- When selecting a glue or mastic remover, you should consult the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that it is the correct product for the surface you are working with. We recommend that you test out the carpet glue remover on a spot that is out of sight to see if it is effective before you use it on the whole surface and potentially cause damage.
There are many methods to remove carpet glue from a concrete floor. Some methods are more effective than others, but it is imperative to begin with the least costly, non-toxic methods first, and to only use the more extreme methods when you are unable to remove the adhesive. Most importantly, always consult the manufacturer’s instructions when you are handling dangerous chemicals.
View our Removing Carpet Adhesive web story here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Remove Asbestos Carpet Glue Myself?
Asbestos is a substance that was used frequently as a building material from the early 1900s onwards. It has been determined in more recent years that asbestos exposure is linked to respiratory problems. This is particularly in the case where there is asbestos present during demolition or removal, as this causes the particles of asbestos to become airborne and therefore can be inhaled. We therefore recommend that you call in a professional to assist if you are uncertain about the type of adhesive that has been used under your carpeting.
How Do I Remove Carpet Adhesive From My Wooden Floors?
You need to be careful when utilizing a scraper to remove carpet glue from wooden floors, as you could accidentally scrape out chunks of wood. The same concern applies if you decide to hire a floor sander – work carefully and slowly to ensure that you do not damage the underlying floor.
When Should I Get Professional Assistance?
It can take a lot of time and effort to remove old carpet glue from concrete. However, your hard work using the above-mentioned methods will pay off. If you are still unable to remove all the adhesive from the concrete floor and you do not feel like you can handle the abrasive techniques, then we strongly suggest that you call in a professional carpet removal service.
Why Should I Remove Old Carpet Glue?
Old carpet glue not only looks terrible but can also be a magnet for grime, dust, dirt, and can be a hindrance when laying down laminate flooring or new carpets. Old adhesives can impact the effectiveness of the adhesive of the new flooring and can cause an uneven surface area, which is very undesirable.
Can I Use Denatured Alcohol to Remove Carpet Glue?
Denatured alcohol is a great option for softening and removing carpet glue from concrete. You can substitute the acetone method for denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol is flammable and toxic, however, so ensure that you are wearing goggles and gloves, as well as a respirator when using it.