One of the first changes embraced in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was social distancing. Retail stores, banks, grocery stores, and more rushed to tape down X’s in lines, in front of ATMs and vending machines. These were eventually replaced by large stickers encouraging people to stay six feet apart at all times. A few even included floor signs updating people on what that store’s new safety policies were.

Today, most people know the rules and while it will never be 100% gone, COVID-19’s presence seems to be diminished. This has a lot of stores, institutions, and commercial properties pulling up the floor stickers in hopes of restoring some good old-fashioned normalcy.

Unfortunately, it turns out that those stickers and Xs of duct tape that went down so easily in the early days of the pandemic now don’t come up without a fight. Many of them leave behind stubborn bits and pieces, or a sticky residue that quickly attracts dirt, floor grime, and dust, to create a spot that looks even uglier than the original floor sticker.

Of course, this problem isn’t just limited to COVID-19 social distancing and safety policy stickers. Even typical retail stickers that let people know about promotional programs, or just let you know where the dairy section is in the supermarket can also leave behind stubborn, ugly adhesive smudges on your floors.

There are a lot of factors that go into how to properly remove these floor stickers and eliminate their ugly adhesive residue.

Choosing The Type of Stickers & Adhesive Floor Signage

The process of effectively removing adhesive actually starts by making a good choice about the type of sticker that’s being applied in the first place. Several of our longtime customers have asked us for advice on how to remove social distancing stickers from the flooring as well as what they should use in the future.

This starts with considering the finish on the floor. At Building Services, our expert technicians recommend not putting any kind of adhesive on the finish of the floor itself. This is more likely to pull the finish off the floor.

​In a situation where you absolutely have to place floor signage or adhesive on your floors, you need to know the risks. When it eventually comes time to remove the floor stickers, you will still be looking at the cost of having to refinish the floors.

Best Method for Removing Social Distancing Stickers from Commercial Floors

Let’s say you put down a bunch of floor stickers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and your sticker options were limited, or perhaps you’ve had promotional stickers on your floor for a long time, and the promotion is finally over. It’s time for those floor stickers to come up. Though the method for doing so can vary.

This starts with taking into account the type of flooring you adhered the stickers to. The type of adhesive can also be a factor in choosing the best removal process.

How To Remove Floors Stickers & Adhesive from Concrete

Removing adhesive from concrete can be a serious problem. Concrete is porous and likes to breathe. When you put a sticker on concrete it gradually starts to pull the sticker into the floor creating a stain. Though this is a little bit less of a problem with sealed or epoxy finished concrete floors.

In a time like this, the best method for removing a floor sticker from concrete is to scrape it off with an industrial razor or a sharpened putty knife with a stiff, reinforced blade. Even a six-in-one multi-tool can work for this. Though in the end, it comes down to a lot of elbow grease and sore knees.

Once you have the physical skin of the sticker off the concrete floor, you will need to turn your focus on the residual adhesive. This calls for judicious use of a commercial-grade adhesive remover to get deep down into the pores and remove the adhesive. Then you can use a black stripping pad and water.

This process will mostly strip the finish off the floor. There’s nothing that can be done about that. Though you can still prep the floor space by meticulously mopping it down with a neutral pH cleaner. If there is any lingering adhesive, you might need to repeat the process until all traces of the sticker and the adhesive is removed.

At that point, you can start to refinish the floor. Though you might need to apply two or three coats of sealant. Sometimes, you just can’t get the area to blend with the rest of the floor. If it is too ugly, you might need to refinish the entire floor for uniformity.

Removing Floor Stickers & Adhesive from VCT Flooring

​Removing floor stickers from vinyl composite tile flooring can also be challenging. A lot of times when you pull up tape or any type of adhesive sticker, it takes the VC Tile with it. Even if you manage to get the tile to stay down, the floor sticker tends to remove the wax as well. If you can find replacement VC Tiles, this isn’t an issue.

If the tile stays in place, you likely won’t see a lot of staining, and you will just have to strip and wax the flooring to get it looking good as new.

Removing Floor Stickers & Adhesive from Carpeting

Residual adhesive on carpeting has been a problem since long before COVID-19 social distancing stickers started getting thrown down with reckless abandon. This includes the plastic put down on carpets during construction or remodeling, which is usually affixed with construction tape or other adhesive.

Even though the pile layers of the carpet itself won’t be damaged by the floor sticker, the residue from the adhesive can attract dirt, dust, pollen, and hair creating a hideously ugly, stubborn stain. The best way to remove adhesive from carpet fibers is with a commercial-grade carpet cleaning machine. Once the professional-strength cleaning agent is applied, the carpet is agitated and rinsed. It often requires multiple repetitions, but the carpet should be in good order afterward, without needing to be replaced.