How To Remove Tar Paper From Wood Floor? Easy Removal Ways

Tar paper or roofing felt is used as a floor lining. Over time, the asphalt in the paper will stick to the floor underneath, and you will have a hard time cleaning them.

As a fellow DIY-lover, we feel your pain. It is quite hard to remove tar paper from the wood floor flawlessly. But that does not mean it is impossible. After years of experience, we have come up with the most effective method.

If you are having concerns about how to remove tar paper from wood floor, you have come to the right place, my friend! This blog post will show you the way to do it with ease.


How To Remove Tar Paper From Wood Floor?

The tar paper is often installed under roofs, partitions, and especially hardwood floors. It is a waterproof building material, and tar paper is used as lining in building construction.

It functions as a vapor barrier by preventing moisture ingress and supporting a thin layer that protects the wood floor from airflow. Over time, the tar in this paper will stick to the floor beneath, making it very difficult to remove.

Let’s look at some solutions to make your removal job easier:


Solvent (such as mineral oils, lacquers) has the chemical name Naphtha (petroleum) Hydrodesulfurized Heavy. In detail, the main ingredient is C9-C10 dialkyl benzene and tri alkylbenzenes to act as a potent cleaning agent.

Mineral Oil (Image)

Therefore, you should try using a solvent to dissolve the tar residue from the wood surface.

Start with mineral oil; you may apply an adequate layer to the floor, wait for the solution to work, then scrape off any residue with a razor. In case mineral oil doesn’t work, try diluting the lacquer.

Make sure the floor is arid before sanding the surface or doing anything else. 

Yet, as solvents are hazardous to use, there are a few things you must keep in mind:

  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes, and clothing.
  • Equip adequate labor protection tools such as gloves, boots, masks, etc.
  • Do not inhale the vapors of the solvent
  • Extinguish and remove all sources of electricity
  • Avoid sparks, do not smoke during work.
  • Ensure uninterrupted power by wrapping and grounding all equipment.
  • Do not pour solvents into drains.
  • If there is a large number of tanks, they must be carefully covered.

Note: Solvent chemicals must be stored shielded in a well-ventilated area, away from sunlight, ignition and heat sources.

Paint Stripper

Paint stripper is very effective to remove damaged paint film or old glue on the surface of materials such as metal, wood, glass mirror, plastic, stone, or wall without affecting the surface of the material. 

It can also melt adhesive tape on glass or the floor. The paint stripper is very suitable for removing the tar layer from the wood floor.

But how to use a paint stripper, then? You have to clean the wooden floor, apply a sufficient amount of this solution to the surface, wait for about 10 to 20 minutes, and finally wipe it away with clean water.

Putty Knife

If the tar layer is not too tight on the wood, you can use a putty knife to scrape it off.

Putty Knife (Image)

This tool can be tricky and time-consuming, but you won’t be exposed to dangerous chemicals.


You might use a steaming solution to remove the tar paper. In particular, the goal of the steamer is to heat and moisten the plastic portion of the paper. The tar will then heat up and soften, and you can then easily remove it from the wood floor.


If the putty knife or steamer does not work or still leaves some dark stains on the wood after removing tar, sand the area to eliminate it for a clean look ground.

It’s best to use a big, two-handed sander or a belt sander to get into the corners of the floor easier. 

How To Remove Adhesive-backed Tar Paper?

A few brands of tar paper are self-adhesive and have a black-top or tar cement utilized on the back to stick them set up. As mentioned above, call the professionals if the asbestos is contained inside the tar paper. Still, you can do it at home with wet stripping if you are confident with your skill and care. 

If you go over this sign, follow these instructions:

Things You Need:

First, you will need to prepare these kinds of stuff before getting down to business:

  • Floor scraper
  • Flooring solvents
  • Heat gun
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Orbital or drum sander

7 Steps To Do

Once you have prepared everything you need, we shall begin with seven steps to remove adhesive-backed tar paper from the wood floor.

#Step 1:

Blend one equivalent part of vinegar in with three parts of water in a large bowl or pail. 

Next, use a clean piece of cloth to apply the combination to the floor and absorb the plastic for a couple of hours.

#Step 2:

Next, using the floor scraper to scrape the wet tar paper. It would be best to investigate with various points and sizes of tools to avoid gouging the floor.

#Step 3:

Utilize a heat gun to spray the remaining tar sheet on the floor to detach the adhesive. Make sure to apply a small amount of heat to prevent damage or warp the wood floor.

When the tar paper and adhesive heat up, you can now remove them with your scraper.

#Step 4:

After that, apply a solvent, such as mineral oil, to any stubborn areas you cannot remove.

Leave them on for a few hours so they can thoroughly soak into the adhesive. Leave your room ventilated when you are using these materials.

#Step 5:

Have a go at scratching off any excess tar and glue. If needed, use the heat gun to additionally release obstinate materials.

#Step 6:

Let’s use an industrial mechanical paint scrubber to eliminate the tar! These solvents should be a final retreat, as they are exceptionally combustible and can affect your health. Thus, please make sure that you are wearing defensive stuff while doing the task. 

#Step 7:

Subsequently, sand the floor with an orbital or drum sander to smooth out the surface. Finally, mop the floor and apply glue or stain to resurface the wood.

Last Thoughts

To sum up, there are several ways to do your work successfully such as solvent, paint stripper, putty knife, steaming or sanding method. Also, you can look at 7 steps to eliminate adhesive-backed tar paper easily in our post.

We hope this article has helped you answer your questions about how to remove tar paper from wood floors. If not, please let us know, and we can chat one-on-one! We would love to hear feedback from other DIY lovers. Thank you and see you next time!

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