Cure for the glue blues

Concrete tips for removing glue from concrete

Whether you work on or with concrete surfaces, it’s a good idea to know some tricks for removing glue from concrete. This guide will tell you how to get glue off concrete surfaces before and after it cures.

Removing glue from concrete: Common applications

No matter how careful you are, adhesive can end up in unexpected places during DIY projects, such as if you are using a product like Loctite PL 500 Landscape Block Adhesive to bond concrete. In other cases, including floor refurbishment, you will need to know how to remove glue residue from concrete from old applications. You will need to use a different approach depending on whether or not the glue has cured.

Unless they have been sealed, concrete surfaces are porous; that means traces of adhesive will likely remain on every concrete surface even after you perform the steps below.

How to remove adhesive from concrete before it cures

Whether you have been using a glue like Loctite PL 500 Landscape Block Adhesive or an epoxy like Loctite Epoxy Metal/Concrete, you should try to get the glue off the concrete before it sets. You can do so by cleaning epoxies immediately with acetone before they set, and you can use acetone or mineral spirits for many other adhesives. Follow these steps:

  1. Work in a well-ventilated area, and wear gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Test the solvent on the surface to make sure it is compatible (especially when using acetone). Remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions for your adhesive to make sure your solvent is appropriate for it.
  3. Remove adhesive from concrete. Wipe it off.
  4. Wash your hands.

When you’re tackling a big area, try working on smaller patches one at a time if you use solvent/remover: the liquid and glue are less likely to dry before you remove them.

How to remove adhesive from concrete after it has cured

Depending on the adhesive used, you may only need to scrape or sand it away. Mastic, for instance, often comes off with some water and light scraping. However, if you need to remove many other kinds of adhesives, you will most likely need to use a solvent in addition to scraping or sanding:

  1. Scrape/sand the adhesive. You can start with a hand scraper or sandpaper (remember your gloves and goggles), but you may need a power scraper or a similar tool.
  2. Sweep up residue and smaller pieces of dried adhesive and dispose of them.
  3. Soften the adhesive if scraping/sanding is not enough. While still wearing your protective gear, apply a solvent to the adhesive. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see whether boiling water, acetone, paint stripper, citrus-based chemicals, or mineral spirits works best. Warm water often works well if you need to get laminate glue off concrete, for example.
  4. Test the solvent on a small patch to see if it is effective and compatible with the surface.
  5. Let the solvent remain on the adhesive for several minutes to soften the glue further.
  6. Scrape the adhesive again. You should be able to remove the glue from the concrete now. Attention: Due to the porous nature of concrete, there is always a risk that some residue will remain. 
  7. Clean-up. Wash the concrete surface thoroughly using a mild soap and water solution and remove any loose pieces of adhesive using an absorbent cloth. Wash your hands.