Removal of Resilient Floor Tile, Sheet Flooring and
"Cutback" Adhesive

Installation Systems \ Vinyl and Linoleum General Installation Information\Removal of Resilient Floor Tile, Sheet Flooring and
"Cutback" Adhesive

Recommended Work Practices

Instructions for removing resilient floor tile, sheet flooring and asphaltic "cutback" adhesives are not contained in this manual. Refer to the current Resilient Floor Covering Institute's (RFCI) publication "Recommended Work Practices for Removal of Resilient Floor Coverings," that addresses each in-place product type: resilient floor tile, resilient sheet flooring and asphalt "cutback" adhesive, or other adhesive. Copies of the current work practices can be obtained by contacting the local Armstrong representative or wholesaler or by calling 1 800/233-3823.

Regulations Affecting the Removal of Existing Resilient Floor Coverings

Existing in-place resilient floor covering and asphaltic adhesives -- Do not sand, dry sweep, dry scrape, drill, saw, beadblast, or mechanically chip or pulverize existing resilient flooring, backing, lining felt, asphaltic "cut-back" adhesives, or other adhesives.

These existing in-place products may contain either asbestos fibers and/or crystalline silica.

Avoid creating dust. Inhalation of such dust is a cancer and respiratory tract hazard.

Smoking by individuals exposed to asbestos fibers greatly increases the risk of serious bodily harm.

Unless positively certain that the product is a nonasbestos-containing material, you must presume it contains asbestos. Regulations may require that the material be tested to determine asbestos content and may govern the removal and disposal of material.

See current edition of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) publication "Recommended Work Practices for Removal of Resilient Floor Coverings" for instructions on removing all resilient floor covering structures or contact your retailer or Armstrong World Industries, Inc. 1 800/233-3823.

OSHA Requirements

In August 1994, OSHA published revised asbestos standards that affect some of the operations referred to in the Resilient Floor Covering Institute's (RFCI) publication "Recommended Work Practices for Removal of Resilient Floor Coverings." OSHA has determined that "intact" resilient floor covering materials can be removed under a "negative exposure assessment" in compliance with the revised standard by appropriately trained workers using the Recommended Work Practices.

Removal of the Existing Resilient Floor is the Final Alternative

Armstrong recommends that whenever possible you leave the existing resilient floor covering in place and go over the top with your new floor.

Alternatives to the removal of an unsuitable resilient floor over approved subfloors are:
  1. Installing directly over a single layer of fully adhered, existing resilient flooring.
  2. Filling the embossing of the existing resilient flooring with S-199 Embossing Leveler or S-194 Patch, Underlayment and Embossing Leveler mixed with S-195 Underlayment Additive before installation (residential only).
  3. Covering existing resilient flooring on an approved suspended wood subfloor with a recommended wood underlayment.

Removal of Asphaltic Adhesive

Many asphaltic adhesive removal products employ solvents which leave a residue within the subfloor that can affect the new adhesive or can bleed through the new floor covering. Our warranties on the new floor covering materials will not cover instances where existing subfloor conditions damage our products or affect their installation.

Replacing Damaged Areas

Prior to removing an existing floor following the RFCI Recommended Work Practices for Removal of Resilient Floor Coverings (unless state or local law requires other measures), if there are visible indications of mold or mildew or the presence of a strong musty odor in the area where resilient flooring is to be removed or installed, the source of the problem should be identified and corrected before proceeding with the flooring work. In virtually all situations, if there is a mold issue, there is or has been an excessive moisture issue. Visible signs of mold or mildew (such as discoloration) can indicate the presence of mold or mildew on the subfloor, on the underlayment, on the back of the flooring, and sometimes even on the floor surface. If mold or mildew is discovered during the removal or installation of resilient flooring, all flooring work should stop until the mold or mildew problem (and any related moisture problem) has been addressed.

In areas where flooding has occurred, it is recommended that damaged flooring be removed following the RFCI Recommended Work Practices for Removal of Resilient Floor Covering (unless state or local law requires other measures). Any underlayment and subfloor should be allowed to thoroughly dry and, if necessary, cleaned, disinfected, and otherwise remediated consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines referenced below. Any structural damage or signs of mold or mildew must be corrected before reinstalling resilient flooring. This may include for example replacement of the underlayment and/or subfloor.

For water damage caused by leaking fixtures, the source of the moisture leak must be located and corrected. Any structural damage must be repaired and any signs of mold or residual moisture must be addressed before replacing the resilient flooring in the affected area.

To deal with mold and mildew issues, you should refer to the EPA guidelines that address mold and mildew. Depending on the mold and mildew condition present, those remediation options range from clean up measures using gloves and biocide to hiring a professional mold and mildew remediation contractor to address the condition. Remediation measures may require structural repairs such as replacing the underlayment and/or subfloor contaminated with mold and mildew as a result of prolonged exposure to moisture.

The EPA mold guidelines are contained in two publications, "A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home" (EPA 402-K-02-003) and "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings" (EPA 402-K-01-001). Appendix B of the Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings" publication describes potential health effects from exposure to mold, such as allergic and asthma reactions and irritation to eyes, skin, nose and throat. These publications can be located on EPA's website at