Removing Old Tile Adhesive From Concrete

Published On: March 17, 20220 Comments on Removing Old Tile Adhesive From ConcreteTags: Last Updated: February 2, 20244 min read

There are many reasons why you may want to remove old tile adhesive from concrete. This can be in order to redecorate your home, make an area more modern, or because they are due for an update. Older tiles that were installed before 1984 are likely to contain asbestos, and it is important that these are removed safely so that you reduce your risk of exposure. Cleaning the concrete underneath can be particularly challenging because there are many adhesive methods out there.

Removing Old Tile Adhesive From Concrete

It is important that you take a closer look at the following methods to see what would work best for you and the adhesive in question.

What Is The Adhesive Made Out Of?

Firstly, it is important that you take a close look at the adhesive that can be seen on the concrete in order to plan the most appropriate method of removal. Some adhesives are water-based which makes them a little more straightforward to remove, whereas others are a little more challenging because they use materials such as sand and cement in order to adhere.

Mastic Adhesive

This is normally water soluble, which makes it one of the easiest adhesives to remove. Black mastic was the adhesive of choice during the twentieth century, and it is widely considered outdated nowadays. You can remove mastic adhesive by soaking in hot water, chiseling away, or applying heat.

Thin-Set Mortar

Thin-set mortar is very similar to cement, which makes it particularly challenging to remove from concrete. However, there are some products which are known to dissolve thin-set mortar safely.

Soak In Hot Water

One of the most simple yet effective ways to remove the adhesive from concrete is to soak in hot water overnight. This can allow some of the binding agents to soften, and increase the chances of completely removing it. Even if this method doesn’t seem to make the adhesive budge, it will certainly help loosen it and make the removal process a little easier.

Chemical Remover

check out for more detail, but there are many types of chemical adhesive removers available that work well on concrete. Each brand of chemical remover will create a different type of reaction within the adhesive, so it is important that you find one which protects the concrete underneath the adhesive. Because there are so many different types of chemical adhesive remover, each product has slightly different methods of use. For example, some will require soaking overnight, whereas others which are more potent will need to be applied sparingly and worked into the adhesive immediately.

Removing Old Tile Adhesive From Concrete - removing tiles

Labor Intensive Methods

When the chemical remover and soaking in water have been done, it is time to begin scraping away at the adhesive if there is any that remains on the concrete surface. Most require a 45 degree angle and a sharp tool like a chisel. Think about the items that you have at home and consider purchasing additional supplies if you believe that it is necessary. It can be highly beneficial to sand the adhesive away if it is dry, using a high grit by hand or even with a sanding machine.

These types of methods which can become a little more physically challenging over time, especially if you are covering a larger area, are only effective when the concrete underneath has been left to dry. Allow the concrete plenty of time to airdry, or even go one step further and use a heat gun to speed up the process. However, it is worth being aware that it can be less effective to heat certain adhesive materials. This is because some are activated with heat, and will become even more challenging to work with if the temperature is raised. For that reason, it could be safer to leave the concrete to dry over time before attempting to manually remove the adhesive that remains.


Depending on the size of the area you want to remove adhesive from, and the condition of the concrete underneath, it is important that you consider the different options for removing adhesive. This includes chemical products, soaking in water, applying heat, and manually scraping it off. If you have additional concerns, it could be worth speaking with an experienced contractor about your options. They could have more specific product recommendations for you.

Concrete is an incredibly strong material which is used to create level flooring, solid structures, walls, and additional features that are enjoyed in the backyard. There are many ways to remove old tile adhesive that vary depending on the makeup of the adhesive. Speak with a laborer if you are unsure about the type of adhesive that you are dealing with.

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