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A Guide for Removing Adhesive from Hardwood Flooring

Updated on May 22, 2015

Proceed With Caution

If you have been unfortunate enough to have encountered this common issue, I'm sure you have a tale to tell ?

If you are considering purchasing an anti slip under mat to stop your rug or carpet slipping on a hardwood floor. It would be wise to ask a few questions first to establish the potential effect to the floor surface once the mat has been removed to facilitate the cleaning of the hardwood floor.

Many types of anti slip mats and tapes are safe to use and do not leave a heavy type sticky residue when lifted off. Some may be more suitable than others for use upon certain types of floor surfaces. For instance an anti slip mat may work well upon a lacquered or varnished hardwood floor, however be unsuitable for a waxed or oiled hardwood floor.

The instructions on the product may not always be very specific and may provide only general information regarding floor types or finishes for hard flooring. So bear this in mind and ask advice from the retailer to ensure the product will be suitable to for your particular floor.

Adhesive residue left this floor requiring wood floor cleaning

Hardwood Floor With Adhesive Residue
Hardwood Floor With Adhesive Residue | Source

Products for removing adhesive

Its not hard to find a product that will quickly dissolve adhesive residue, there are many brands readily available for a few pounds. These products are normally a blend of solvent cleaners that are fairly toxic and they need to be used in strict accordance with the manufactures safety guide.

In small quantities and handled correctly using appropriate personal safety protection equipment they are safe to use on non solvent sensitive surfaces.


Check Product Labeling

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Always Test a Sample Area

It is very important to select a small area to test the product on first before launching into a full scale attack on the offending sticky residue.

Most solvent based adhesive removers can potentially damage the finish on hardwood flooring. So test a small patch to ensure the solvent cleaner is suitable. Immediately after use ensure the surface is neutralized and the solvent removed before it has a chance to damage the finish.

If the test is successful proceed with caution, do not get overconfident and try to complete the task too quickly. The trick is work in small stages and ensure no damage arises from the chemical making the whole thing a lot worse and more costly to correct.

Adhesive Residue Removed by Sovent Cleaning the Hardwood Floor

Hardwood Floor with Residue Removed by Cleaning
Hardwood Floor with Residue Removed by Cleaning | Source

Removing Adhesives Without Solvents

It is possible to purchase alternative products with much lower rate VOC content. These can be used and are less likely to damage hardwood flooring finishes.

If you are really into organic solutions it is possible to cook up a batch of your own using natural products like lemon juice and baking soda. You will have to read up on some websites that promote alternative natural cleaning products first to get an understanding of what to mix and how it works.

As with the solvent based products, the rule of thumb still applies,so try a sample teat area first.

The Process

When you have chosen the product you wish to use for the adhesive removal whether it be a solvent or an organic based cleaner. The first thing to do is perform a test to ensure there is no adverse reaction upon the floor finish.

Once satisfied that you will not cause any damage you can begin the cleaning process to remove the adhesive residue. It is always advisable to apply a little of the product to a small select area. If the non slip mat or tape has left residue over a large area resist the temptation to pre-soak the whole area to speed things up.

The product will either dry up or evaporate before you are ready to deal with the residue there or worse it may react to the floor finish.

If the adhesive is fairly light it should be reasonably easy to remove using a cloth with the product and by appling light pressure to the floor surface.

Masking Tape Adhesive Upon a Hard Floor

Masking Tape Stuck to a Hard Floor
Masking Tape Stuck to a Hard Floor

Removing Masking Tape

Masking tape is a useful product and is often used in studios for marking out floor areas. This happened in the example above where the tape was then left on the floor for a few days after the event.

Because the tape used was a high adhesive tape rather than a low tact tape it was hard to remove. Part of the tape was removed initially only to leave the adhesive residue in place. The residue adhesive quickly collects the dusts that adhere to the residue resulting in the black lines that are visible.


Adhesive Removal by Solvent Product

Studio Floor After Tape Removal
Studio Floor After Tape Removal

Adhesive Removal Using Solvent Cleaner

The adhesive residue in the before photo had been ignored for some time in the busy working studio and a solvent based cleaner was required to remove it.

Due to the heavy adhesive a cloth was not suitable and a scouring pad was required. When using any type of scouring pad on a finely finish floor, proceed with caution and apply light pressure only. Any attempt at heavy concentrated pressure can quickly result in damage to the floor surface.

Little and often is the rule, try to keep the pressure applied evenly using the flat of your hand.

If the surrounding flooring has not been cleaned frequently the solvent cleaner will leave obvious signs of the tape residue removal of its removal. This can be remedied by cleaning the floor to restore it to a uniform appearance.

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    • Steven Rosen profile image
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      Steven Rosen 2 years ago

      A practical guide for a sticky issue