How to Remove Vinyl Tiles from Plywood

If you want to remove vinyl tiles, you will need some tools which would help you get the job done. You do not want to spend hours spraying hot vinegar and water on vinyl tiles, hoping they become easier to remove.

So what are some tools you need to successfully remove vinyl tiles from plywood, in as little time as possible? A putty knife, a wood chisel, a heat gun, a scraper, a hammer, masks, and gloves are suggestions of tools and equipments that you can use to remove vinyl ties from plywood. Note that these tools are merely suggestions, and the aim of this article is not to exclude tools that are not mentioned.

To remove vinyl tiles from plywood, get a putty knife or a scraper, a wood chisel or a hammer, and a heat gun. You slide the putty knife or scraper under the vinyl tile and gently apply pressure to peel it back. If the vinyl tiles prove difficult to remove even with these tools, use a heat gun to slowly heat up the tile before you attempt to remove it again.

How to Remove Vinyl Tiles from Plywood

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Steps for Removing Vinyl Tiles from Plywood Floor

  1. Open the windows and doors before you begin. Proper ventilation is necessary, especially if you end up heating the vinyl tiles with the heat gun. 
  2. Ensure that all the tools you need are by your side when you start removing the vinyl tiles. You do not want to go to different rooms when you have already started removing the vinyl tiles, just to look for the required tools.
  3. Now that you have your tools nearby, start removing the vinyl tiles in this order: work your way in from the edge of the room. The first few tiles are usually the most difficult to remove.
  4. Starting at the edge of the room with the vinyl tiles (unless a tile in another section of the room is already loose), slide the putty knife between the tile and plywood then gently tap on the putty knife with the wood chisel. This should peel back the tile.
  5. If the putty knife and wood chisel do not remove the vinyl tile, use a heat gun to loosen the vinyl adhesive.
  6. To begin, you may want to wear your mask for extra precaution because some tiles have toxic chemicals in them.
  7. Use a heat setting that will heat the tile up just enough for you to remove it. Do not make the setting so high that it burns the vinyl tile. Once you have your preferred heat setting, hold the heat gun at a reasonable height above the tile and move it from left to right, or right to left. Ensure that you do not stay in one spot for too long, to avoid burning the tile.
  8. Once the tile is hot enough, work the putty underneath and gently pry it up. Work your way around the room like this, gently removing the vinyl tiles from plywood.
  9. While removing the tiles, use the scraper to remove as much mastic and backing paper as you can.

Additional Tips for Getting Vinyl Floor Tiles off Plywood Floor

  1. Rather than a putty knife, you can use a scraper to remove vinyl tiles from plywood floor. It works in just about the same way the putty knife does: slide the scraper under the vinyl tile and wiggle it until the tile pops off. If it is difficult to remove, use a hammer to gently force the scraper undeĀ  the tile.
  2. You can also get an oscillating multi-tool, and a rigid scraper attachment to match. This makes removal much easier and faster. It does not work as much muscles as a putty knife or regular scraper does, so you will not be as tired. The best part about an oscillating multi-tool is that you can use it for other purposes, as long as you buy the necessary attachments. With an oscillating multi-tool and the appropriate attachment, you can sand wood, grind out old grout, cut wood precisely, etc.


Is it safe for you to remove this flooring by yourself?

Yes, it is generally safe to remove vinyl flooring by yourself. As long as you have the right tools and knowledge (technical and safety), you can remove vinyl flooring by yourself. But you should keep in mind that it is not an effortless endeavor: you are sure to get tired and maybe even frustrated if you are not a professional.

But you should also consider hiring a professional if your house was built between the 1940s and the 1970s. Why? Because asbestos was commonly used in developing home products during that period. Asbestos contains harmful chemicals that could put you and your family at risk. If, however, your vinyl flooring has been changed since after the 1979s, it may not contain asbestos.

Is it possible to use acetone on vinyl flooring?

Acetone is a harsh chemical and solvent. Although vinyl flooring is waterproof, acetone permanently stains and damages vinyl flooring. If, however, you want to clean stains such as nail polish, paint, or permanent marker, you may use nail polish remover. Some nail polish removers contain acetone, and others contain amyl acetate which is not damaging to vinyl flooring. If you must use a nail polish remover that contains acetone, know that it is not pure acetone and gently rub away the stain with a soft cloth.


You can remove vinyl tiles from plywood by yourself and, depending on the tools you use, the process could be a seemingly never ending one. The process of removing vinyl tiles is a methodical one, and you should keep that in mind as you engage in the DIY process. If necessary, you should not hesitate to seek the services of a professional, especially if your house uses vinyl flooring from the 1940s to the 1970s.

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