When it comes time to get new flooring you can save money by removing the old flooring yourself but if you have old linoleum on your floors you might be in for quite a challenge. Depending on how old the linoleum is and the type of adhesive that was used it can be extremely difficult to get up.
First of all, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to just remove the linoleum and adhesive all at once. The surface under the linoleum and the damage you might cause it needs to be considered – especially if that surface is wood. Concrete floors can take a lot more in the way of rough treatment. The type of scraper you use has a lot to do with your success as well as the damage to the floor underneath. Many people use paint scrapers but those with a razor blade are usually more efficient. Be prepared to break some blades it if the adhesive is hard, and you’re working on concrete.
Try cutting the linoleum into strips or sections instead of removing the whole chunk at once. This will make it easier to get an edge to pry up. Of course, the linoleum probably won’t come up in nice neat sections so be prepared to deal with a lot of left over backing and glue that is still attached to your floor.
One way to deal with those remnants that just won’t come up is to apply some kind of solvent or remover. A popular brand is Krud Kutter, which appears to work very well from the customer feedback comments. Follow directions on the label of whatever product you employ, and wear gloves to protect your hands. Do a small section at a time, and then move to the next one.
Another technique is to use boiling water and pour it directly on the backing and adhesive. Let it soak and then scrape up. If you don’t want to use water, you can try to heat up the glue with a hair dryer or heat gun. Pick a very inconspicuous area, such as behind a door, to try it. Heat the adhesive with the hair dryer and scrape it up with a straight-blade scraper (like a stiff putty knife with a beveled edge). Move the scraper in the direction of the grain of the wood if you are uncovering a hardwood floor. Have a pan or some other container handy to drop the scrapings into – one that is unlikely to either melt or ignite when coming in contact with hot materials. Be very careful if you are using a heat gun as this can easily damage the floor underneath if it is wood.
If worse comes to worse and you are left with some stubborn adhesive on the floors, it might be time to sand. Of course, if your floors are wood and you plan to refinish them you would need to sand anyway, but during this step you must be careful not to damage the particular area by keeping the sander on it for too long.
Once you finally get the linoleum and all traces of adhesive up, you are ready to seal the floor as recommended for the type of flooring and apply the new floor as recommended!