An issue with black sticky stuff under old tiles

John Conlin / 27 October 2016

Chartered surveyor John Conlin answers a reader’s query on retiling.


Our bungalow floors are solid and covered with plastic tiles which we want to replace. 

They seem to be stuck down with black sticky stuff. It doesn’t scrape off. 

Is there some solvent we could use?


I guess that your bungalow was built between 1930 and 1960

The black ‘stuff’ you describe is almost certainly bitumen and acts as an adhesive for the tiles and a moisture barrier preventing damp rising through the solid floor slab. More recent building methods incorporate plastic membranes within the depth of the floor slab.

My advice is to leave the tiles and the sticky stuff alone and lay your choice of flooring over them.

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