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How to Remove Laminate Floors

Updated February 21, 2017

Laminate flooring is a material designed to look and feel like hardwood, but costs only a fraction of the price. This material is composed of a resinous substance topped with a printed paper layer that resembles wood grain. Typically, this product is installed as a floating floor system, meaning that the planks are not attached to the subfloor. While most laminate flooring systems snap together using a tongue and groove mechanism, some consist of planks that are glued together using wood adhesive. No matter which system you have in your home, it is possible to remove it yourself with a little bit of patience and hard work.

Remove baseboards, toeboards, or trim from the perimeter of the room to make laminate removal easier.

Use a skill saw to cut each plank down the centre. This breaks the boards down into more manageable pieces that can more easily be removed. Be sure to cut only the laminate and not the subfloor.

Slide a wood chisel into the groove you cut in the laminate. Use a rubber mallet to help force the wood out of place. This method is sufficient for floors that are not glued together. Once you have your first few sections removed, the process becomes much easier.

Use a pry bar to pull up sections that are glued together. Slide the end of the bar between the glued sections and use the leverage provided by the bar to force the plank upward.

Rent a floor scraper from your local home improvement store and run it across the subfloor to remove any excess adhesive or underlayment. If minimal adhesive is present, a hand-held scraper could do this job instead.

Tip

If you are removing flooring installed before 1980, have the adhesive checked for asbestos by a professional before you attempt laminate removal. Asbestos fibres can cause lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. They must be encapsulated and removed properly to avoid harmful health effects.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Skill saw
  • Wood chisel
  • Rubber mallet
  • Pry bar
  • Floor scraper
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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.