How to Remove Laminate Flooring

Wondering how to remove laminate flooring? It isn’t as hard as you’d expect. With the correct guidance and tools, you can easily remove those stacks of plywood, without damaging the flooring itself. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know.

Laminate flooring has been a staple choice when it comes to home flooring, in the modern age. That’s because, with a decent lifespan of 20-30 years (depending on the maintenance and care), it’s extremely durable. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not prone to damage. Laminate flooring is prone to get faded, gouged, discoloured and scratched. For whatever reason that you may want to remove it – it’s important to first organize the labour/help, tools and materials. So let’s get started with the basics.

Types of Flooring

There are primarily two types of flooring:

  • Floating Laminate: This is not attached or embedded into the floor, this is a kind of flooring that is placed on the foam cushion, in a manner that makes it “float” atop the foam accusation. Because this isn’t directly attached to the subflooring, the planks can simply be fit together and no adhesive is required – making the installation and removal process much easier and mess-free.

The corners of the planks are sealed with an adhesive and the plys are then snapped together. An added benefit is that this laminate is that it’s reusable. Handle it with care so it doesn’t chip if you want it for long-term usage.

  • Glued laminate: This is the original version of laminate flooring, back when it hit the markets in the ’70s. As the name suggested, these plywood planks are glued together to make flooring. Because powerful adhesives are used to stick them together, this type of laminate flooring cannot be used again. And so the process of removal isn’t as precise or technical – you just go about scrapping them off.

Organize Materials and Tools

You will need standard tools to work with, to remove the laminate flooring. These include;  Industrial gloves, Work shoes, Protective glasses, Hammer, Cutter, Chisel, Scraping tool, Utility/Pocket knife, 6-inch drywall knife, Heat torch, Vacuum, Coloured marker, Crowbar

Now after you’ve done this and have organized your workspace, let’s get down to the work.

Step 1: Wear Personal Protective Equipment

Wear heavy-duty boots and protective mits before you go to remove the laminate floor planks. They’re sharp and you can easily be prone to an injury that will make matters only more difficult. Moreover, the wood chips and wood dust that come off of laminate flooring is quite a lot, and so before you damage your eyes – try and wear protective glasses/goggles during the time you are handling the wooden planks.

Step 2: Clean the Surroundings

Now start shifting all the amenities outside the rooms so you can have an easy process when trying to remove the plies of the floor. After this, you should be removing the baseboards. These cover all the edges of the flooring, by the perimeter of the room. Using your knife, you should then go for cutting off the moulding of the baseboard. However, be careful that you’re cutting the pain off only and not the drywall itself.

Step 3: Remove Baseboard

Then slide in a 6-inch wide knife in the middle of the baseboard and the drywall. The next step is to jam in the crowbar in the middle of the board and the knife. The knife protects the enclosure from any possible damage that may occur. Once you detach the board – you can use the cutters to remove the nails that are stuck in the wall. Or even use the mallet to pin ones that are left out. Now, before proceeding to the following section of the moulding you must use the marker to mark the walls and pieces, so you have an idea of what goes where.

Step 4: Pry the Strips

Then pull up the strips often found in the entrance to rooms that case the seams in the flooring, in the middle of the living space or a smooth transition that comes in two types of flooring (say, from laminate to carpeting).

Then pry up the strips by sliding in the J-part of your crowbar of the bar. Next, you would want to remove the screws that hold the retaining channels to the floor. Be careful when doing. Transition strips are prone to breaking easily and if you want to save them you have to be gentle.

Step 5: Removing Laminate Flooring

Now getting to removing the Laminate floor itself, you have to get the angle right, preferably something around 45 degrees pried up, by using the J end of the crowbar. In the case of any plies hovering, they will detach from the adjoining ones as you pull it up. And well, if it’s snap-together laminate then keep pulling the plank until the glue seaming breaks down.

Step 6: Lift Planks Up

When you have safely and successfully removed one row, then use the chisel. Simply slip it in under the added planks to lift them. Then repeat the process, removing ply after ply, row by row.

Step 7: Separate the Padding

The next step is to separate the padding of foam from the subfloor. If the laminate is fixed with an adhesive, use the heat torch to melt the glue seaming and then use the scrapping tool. This way, if you even have any residual glue stuck to the floor you can remove it.

Step 8: Clean the Mess

After you’re done with all the handi-work, it is important to clean up all the mess. The wood chippings, wood dust, metal clipping from the nails, or any other constructional residue might be very harmful to your eyes as getting it might cause several injuries. Use a vacuum to clean the entire place up.

However, if a vacuum seems to not work all the grime and dust, you may also consider using a floor scraper to scrape any residue that might’ve remained stuck to the sub-floor or the concrete floor. There isn’t much to do. Simply run it across the floor at an angle that ranges from 15-20 degrees and if the blade starts to dull then replace it, clean it or get a new one.


Moreover, another option you can consider is that if the original flooring that you’ve removed was connected to the wooden subfloor, use an electric sander. This would take off the residual glue. Make sure you down a mask and a pair of glasses while sanding to avoid irritating your eyes or throat.

One important thing to consider is that when you’ve done all this, take a good look at the condition of your subfloor. Its lifespan depends on how it’s been treated, maintained, the weather, how much moisture it’s clogged and has retained over the years, the materials.

Some signs are to be checked when you’re thinking of replacing your subfloor. Such as; they may become increasingly noisy and squeaky. They’re squeaky when the nails in the subfloor, which connect the joists, are loosened up. As you move around, the nails are thus moved in and out of place in the fittings. This means that the material has been damaged and may require some servicing. If that doesn’t work then you have to change it.

Other signs include the room where the laminate flooring is done, smells mustier than usual. You may also feel the floors shifting, or be bouncy when you walk on the flooring. If they feel particularly springy, spongy or even just moist – this is a sign that may indicate that you may want to consider replacing the subfloor.

Step 9: Get a Dumpster

We suggest that you consider renting a dumpster that’s especially for the collection and removal of renovation debris. If you plan to remodel the entire place, then renting this would be a good idea, especially if along with the flooring – you plan to touch up or renovate other elements in the house. This is an easy, convenient and fast solution to all your construction mess woes.

See – The average cost of a renovation dumpster rental is $433, with prices ranging from $199 to $761. Depending on how big it is. While with dumpster bags, they may look much cheaper upfront – as low as $29.99 for some brands, but most dumpster bag facilities charge an extra fee for the pickup. This rounds up an average price of $160 per bag, which in hindsight is more expensive than investing in a Dumpster service that comes and does the job for you.

There is a large variety of options to choose from – depending on the size of your house, your renovation plans and the debris that might accumulate. The sizes range from 10 yards all the way up to 40 yards.

Step 10: Consult a Flooring Expert

It is a good idea to consult a flooring expert in your vicinity that might help you out with this venture. While DIYing may seem like the right and adventurous thing to do, there are many risks. You may injure yourself, others around you, you may damage a subfloor that’s perfectly alright during the process of renovating it.

Instead, it is a wise idea to contact a local contractor in your area and they will provide you with a hassle-free service that guarantees good results.

Hope you found this little walk-through of how to remove your laminate flooring useful. Good luck and happy renovating.

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