Too often people will try to cover up or quick fix a wood floor problem by sticking asphalt or adhesives backed tiles down. When the house is sold the headache of removing the cheap tile job and repairing the wood floor is handed to the new owner.
To restore the floors finish you first have to remove the tiles. There is no easy way to do this other then a mixture of different scrapers and puddy knives. While removing the tile you should take care not to carve into the wood below even though you will eventually need to sand the floor any gouges will break through the finish and cause problems when you try to remove the adhesive.
The first thing you need to do is find out what type of adhesive was used. New work will probably have a mastic or glue based adhesive and older work will probably have a black asphalt adhesive. Once you know what you are trying to remove you can call your floor center and ask which solvent is best to remove the adhesive.
Most likely they will suggest Mineral Spirits which can be purchased at most home centers in a gallon or 5 gallon container.
This is an extremely messy, time consuming and somewhat dangerous job due to the volitility of the solvents. YOU MUST NOT SMOKE OR USE SPARK OR FLAME WHEN USING LARGE AMOUNTS OF SOLVENT. Sparks can also be a problem when you are using window fans and Window fans will be necessary to add clean air to the working area.
Place a box fan in a window and point the direction of the fan inwards so that the volitile solvent is not sucked through the fan and into the motor area which can cause sparks and flame. This means you will have to open a door or window on the other side of your work area for fumes to escape.
Now you want to work in small areas of 4×4 foot and douse the area with a good amount of solvent and let it sit for a few minutes before you try to wipe away the adheasive with a rag moistened with solvent.
As you wipe the adhesives up you will use a clean rag to remove what you can and then as you work the clean rag will become your scrubbing rag and a new clean rag will replace the old one.
Always wear old clothes when working and it is a good idea to have plastic grocery bags that you can tape or rubber-band over your shoes.
Unfortunately you will find that some of the adhesive will get between the wood floor boards and it will also seep into cracks and maybe the surface of the wood. You should continue to work these areas after you have removed the primary amount of adhesive by using a nylon brush or even metal picks if needed.
This is never a good solution for repairing veneer flooring. In the case of veneer floors it is much more economical due to time costs to just rip it up and replace it. For solid wood oak or pine you will have too base the total time vs the cost of replacement and the availability of the materials. Larger width boards of 5 or more inches wide will be difficult to come by so going through the trouble to save the floor is probably worth it.
Once you have cleaned all of the residue away you can continue refinishing your floor following regular methods.
If you are extremely concerned about using mineral spirits you may be able to use a biodegradable water based solution but this will probably not work on older asphalt tile adhesive. Ask your flooring supplier about Roberts 1920 Liftoff or Sentinel 747.
The YouRepair store has a wide range of Flooring supplies at huge discounts.
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