How to Remove Laminate Flooring

How to remove laminate flooring copy

If you’re looking to replace a laminate flooring with something new, even a better laminate, you might be a bit puzzled as to how to handle it.

Thankfully, it’s actually a relatively simple process due to the nature of the boards and you should be able to accomplish it yourself without having to pay a specialist to come in.

Victoria, Homethods Author
Victoria

How to remove laminate flooring copy

1.) Clear the Room

The floor is coming up, which means it’s time to get everything out of the way so you can get the job done. Make sure to remove everything that the flooring is under, including appliances before you begin.

Most things will move out of the way easily enough, although you might want to grab a friend for the particularly heavy stuff. A good hand truck is super useful for getting anything large and particularly heavy out of the way, like refrigerators or armoires.

If you’re moving appliances with a gas connection, like a stove, make sure the valve is off before you unscrew the flooring. Many people will leave plain concrete underneath heated appliances so decide if you want to do that before you begin.

2.) Pull the Baseboards

The first thing you’ll need to do is grab a pry bar and remove the baseboards around the room. This skirt of wood actually hides the ¼” or so gap which is left behind when the boards are installed. Most laminate floorings are made with a floating design, and the baseboards lock them in place.

Use a pry bar to accomplish this. Be super careful if you plan on reusing the existing baseboards. In most cases you might just want to purchase a new set though, unless you’re doing a truly huge job it might not be worth the hassle of doing things super carefully.

Specialized tools exist for this purpose, and you might want to go with one. They’re fairly cheap and can help to keep you from damaging the wall itself when you’re pulling. A standard pry bar can make holes in your wall quickly and easily if you’re not careful.

Once you have the baseboards out of the way, it’s time to start the real work.

Laminate

3.) Clean Up the Wall

Grab a claw hammer or your pry bar and get all of the nails which formerly held the baseboards to the wall but didn’t come out with the board. Trust us, it’s a lot easier to do it now than to wait until the end of the process.

Go along the wall carefully, and make sure you get each one. Get them out of the room if you can, or at least into a container. The last thing you want is an old nail scratching your brand new floor as you’re installing it.

We prefer to use a magnetic parts tray. They’re handy to have around for anything, and you can quickly and easily run one around the edges of the wall if the job ended up being a bit dirty to make sure there’s nothing rolling around under there.

4.) Starting the Separation

Now for the actual work. The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out how the boards are locked together. Figure out which way the tongues are facing and which way the slots are going. You’ll be breaking up the floor from the tongue side.

Most people will recommend a chisel. This is fine once you get things out from the wall a bit, but when you’re first starting to make the pull it can be extremely tedious. It’s also quite damaging if you’re working over a laminate subflooring.

A pry bar also makes a passable tool for getting things done here, but once again the length and angle can make it hard to get into the side of the wall. It’s certainly a better option for getting started than using a chisel, however.

A pull bar designed for floors works well too, and you’ll be able to reuse it if you’re installing a similar floor. The small head will allow you to get down and the ninety degree angle on the end makes it ridiculously easy to get under the flooring.

Whatever tool you decide to go with, drive it under the flooring at the corners and then pull upwards. With a pry bar or pull bar you can make a rocking motion that will help to separate things more easily, just don’t get too overzealous. A board split down the middle can be a pain to remove.

If you’re not particularly concerned about keeping the boards and this proves to be too difficult, you can use a chisel and a mallet one board back from the wall. Break the board between the gaps and you’ll have two options.

On a concrete subfloor, you should be able to get a pry bar or a chisel underneath the board next to the wall fairly easily. Tap with the mallet if you need to, but be careful not to just slam it since you don’t want to crack your foundation. Then just pry upwards, pushing the board towards the wall.

On a wooden floor, things can be a little bit more chancy. Switch to a pry or pull bar as soon as you’ve cracked the gap and be careful not to drive the chisel too deep. Hit along the edge until you have broken a seam roughly 4”-6” for the best results. It’ll give you more wiggle room.

Use the chisel’s tip to carefully bring the board up a bit then slide the other tool in and break as normal. This works best if your pry bar has a rounded edge, since it has less of a chance of damaging the flooring underneath.

In either case, breaking out the first board is the hardest part of the whole process. Once you’ve done that, it’s smooth sailing for the rest of the job except for the effort required.

5.) Taking the Floor Apart

Having broken into the floor, you’re now just going to have to put in a little bit of work. Each board is going to require a good bit of effort most of the time, and if the flooring is glued down you’re in for a “fun” afternoon.

All you need to do is fit a tool under each plank and pry upwards towards yourself. As long as you followed the instructions above and you’re pulling from the tongue side of the board instead of the grooved one it should come up pretty easily.

If you have a pull bar, moving the other way is super easy. Push it in between the boards then tap it with a mallet to slide the board off and then you can repeat the process across the room again.

If not, you might be able to break it by prying upwards, but this will undoubtedly damage the boards a little bit and it can take quite a bit of force.

It’ll take some time, and moving all of the flooring to wherever you’re storing it or throwing away is going to take a lot of work, but a single person should be able to break down all but the biggest rooms in a couple of hours.

Grab some friends if you’re doing a whole house, or you’re going to be looking at a couple of days of work.

6.) Finish the Floors

If you’re on bare concrete, then you’re pretty much done at this point. Older installations are like this on occasion, but you’ll still want to clean up anything that remains before you install the new floor.

On the other hand, if adhesives were used you’re going to need to flatten the floor back out by removing it. Pick a glue removing solvent, get some gloves and a mask, and get to work. Some adhesives will dissolve thoroughly, but most will require a bit of scraping to get the job done.

If there is an underfloor, inspect it to see if it’s damaged. If you’re going with an entirely new type of flooring, then you can just cut it up and throw it out like you would carpet. Take a razor knife along the edges and roll it up for disposal.

Once everything is cleaned up, you can kick back for a little bit and think about the newer, better floor that’s going to take its place soon.

Conclusion

Removing a laminate floor is pretty easily done, and most people with any kind of DIY aptitude will have no issues with it. The main thing, as always, is just to be careful not to cause any further damage while you’re working on getting it out of there.

Give it a shot yourself, you’ll save a lot of money and after a few feet of it you’ll see that it’s truly not a big deal at all and it’s the first step in the rewarding task of installing a brand new floor.

References 

  1. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/easily-remove-old-laminate-flooring-concrete-floors-77866.html
  2. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/remove-laminate-flooring-damaging-boards-85167.html
  3. https://www.bunnings.com.au/diy-advice/flooring/laminate-and-vinyl/how-to-remove-laminate-flooring






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