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How to Install Vinyl Tiles over Mastic

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It’s been a bit of a process trying to decide how to lay out self stick vinyl tiles over the old mastic adhesive that was coating the living room floor. Combined with being sick has taken its toll on our forward momentum a bit but we are back up and raring to get moving on this project. We took a look at a couple different ways of removing the old mastic.

First up (this was ages ago) we tried fingernail polish remover. Basically we were looking at an Acetone base in our polish remover.


It worked okay and did remove some of it in our test area. But it stank and didn’t work that great.

We looked at a ton of different removers and even brought home one but decided not to use it because of the fumes it put off.

We did strongly consider using Bean-e-doo Mastic Remover:


Which looked great and apparently has no odors at all. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it anywhere so would have had to order it and we were getting impatient, and since we already painted the baseboards were concerned about it making a mess of them.

We tried scraping it up with a chisel and that worked okay too, but it was slow going and kept getting gummed up constantly with the mastic. While we were shopping in the tile section for all our backsplash gear we found this little guy:


He’s a 4 inch QEP Razor Scraper. You can find him at Home Depot here. I discovered that he actually has a bigger brother actually designed for this with a long handle called the QEP 62909 8-Inch Adjustable Razor Floor Stripper. This might be better since Kevin’s back was toast after working on the floor.

Long story short he worked great. The blades were cheap to swap out, a little over $2 a package (we bought 1 package). The width was significantly better than the chisels we had been using and the handle gave much better leverage.

It took Kevin the better part of the morning to scrape the living room but he had to move stuff around too so there’s that too.

Once he got the hard part done I jumped in. This is what it looked like after scraping:


As you can see they used a really strange pattern and it kinda looks like they just ran out of adhesive and laid the floor anyways haha. Pretty classic for this house.

We had some holes in the concrete that needed to be filled:


So I cleaned them out and used our floor leveling compound to fill them in. You want to be sure to poke your trowel down into the holes to release any air bubbles as you do this.


Then using a trowel that spans the full spread of your hole, scrape it flush.


It should look rough but mostly leveled out. This stuff won’t give you a 100% perfect finish, but it helps.


Then let it dry for 24 hours and sand with some heavy grit sandpaper to smooth it out. After that I spent some time cleaning up the whole room, vacuuming it and getting all the junk out from under the baseboards. Then I swept again and mopped the floor.

Finally I primed the floor with the self stick vinyl primer.


We are doing this room a half at a time since our living room still has some stuff in it , but it should be mostly finished by tonight or tomorrow on this half at least!



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About Dani Meyer

Hi, I’m Dani! I’m most importantly mama to 3 wild little dudes. I spend my days cooking, photographing and exploring the Pacific Northwest. I'm a full time food blogger and online business coach.

I’m the author of Stress Free Camping, a 120+ page guide on making epic food in the woods. I’m also the founder of Food Blogger Entrepreneurs, the leading online academy and private community for food bloggers. → More About Dani

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