If you want to save a dollar or two per square foot on your flooring project, then removing laminate flooring yourself is an easy way to do it. It can be done with just a few tools and a simple strategy, so let’s talk about DIY laminate floor removal and how to remove laminate flooring without breaking a sweat.
Pros of DIY Laminate Flooring Removal
If you’re planning on having new laminate floors installed by a professional contractor then the main advantage of removing the existing laminate yourself is to cut down on costs. Professional installers will charge you for removing and disposing of old flooring, as well as the preparation of the sub-floor, so if you can do all this yourself then you can save yourself a good chunk of change.
Other reasons to do it are to:
- Gain DIY experience, improve your skills and boost your confidence with a fairly easy project
- Buy the tools you need for less than what it would have cost to have the floor removed, and have the tools for future projects
- Enjoy the satisfaction that comes with a job well done
Tools Needed for Removing a Laminate Floor
This is one of the shorter tool lists you’ll find for a DIY home project. What exactly you’ll need depends on how the flooring has been installed.
Floating laminate floor removal tool list:
- Pry bar: The preferred tool has a straight edge on one end and a claw on the other.
- Standard pliers
Glued laminate floor removal tool list:
- Pry bar
- Orbital sander
- Floor scraper
- Heat gun (optional)
Tips Before you Start
These laminate flooring removal do’s and don’ts will help you get through the job with a minimum of frustration and with the flooring material in good condition should you want to reuse it (for a basement, RV, utility room, man cave, shed, work room, etc.). Note: If the laminate flooring planks are glued together, it cannot be saved for reuse.
Let’s start with the things you should do:
- Empty the room of furniture
- Be patient with the process. Haste will make waste in the form of broken trim and cracked floor planks
- If you plan to reuse the baseboard trim, mark each piece with some sort of number or code for reinstalling it in the same place
- Use the pliers to remove brads/nails from the trim pieces working from the back of the trim
- If you are removing some of the planks to get to one that needs repair, stack them in order as you take them up, so they can be reinstalled in the same order
Here are the “don’ts” of the job
- If you’re not going to reuse the trim or flooring, don’t worry about being careful – tear it out with abandon, if you like
- Don’t forget to remove the foam underlayment that you’ll probably find under the laminate flooring
How to Remove Laminate Flooring – Step by Step
This won’t be a long section, since, as we said, this is quite an easy job. If your laminate floor is in the minority of floors that are comprised of glued-down tiles, this succinct “how to” from Reference.com is all you need. For floating floors, here’s how to make them disappear.
- Remove transition pieces between the laminate floor and other floor types by getting under them with the flat edge of the pry bar and lifting the piece with one hand as you continue along the underside with the bar
- Remove the u-tracks that the transition pieces snapped into
- Start removing the flooring at one of the walls the materials runs parallel to
- Use the ¼” gap at the edge to get your fingers or tool under the first board
- Lift the first board 30 to 45 degrees, and pull it away from the second piece
- Continue until the first row of laminate is removed, and then proceed to the second and additional rows
- If the planks were glued together, they won’t come apart, so raise a foot or two of flooring, and pull it toward you to break it apart
- Remove leftover glue on the subfloor with the floor scraper or orbital sander, or optionally, heat it with the heat gun to soften if before scraping
Of course, if you’re more of a watcher than a reader, this handy Aussie shows you how easy it is:
Most laminate flooring ends up in a landfill. If you’re OK with that, break the planks into 4-foot lengths, bundle them with twine, and put them in your waste cart. You can also take the flooring directly to the landfill. However, if you’d prefer to keep it out of the waste stream, find a recycling facility that will take it. Most recycled laminate is burned in a waste-to-energy plant. If you’re interested in learning more about whether laminate is ecofriendly, the folks at FindAnyFloor cover that info in this laminate flooring lifecycle article.
If removing a laminate floor is just the first step to installing a new one then you may want to read our laminate flooring installation guide and also our in-depth article on how to cut laminate planks.