How to tear up laminate flooring

Written by nathan mcginty
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Time for another remodel and the first thing that has to go is that laminate flooring. Fortunately, in most installations, pulling up laminate is not a time-consuming task. Since laminate floors are not nailed down, the strategy here is simply to remove the moulding that holds the floor in place and pull up the boards one by one. A few problems may arise if you're dealing with glued laminate sheets, rather than plank laminate.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Heat gun (on glued laminate)
  • Safety goggles

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Instructions

    Removing Laminate Plank Flooring

  1. 1

    Using a pry bar or hammer, remove all the baseboard moulding from around the perimeter of the room. If the laminate was installed over an existing floor, like tile, for example, then the only wood which you may have to pull off is the quarter round moulding just along the edges. You know you have removed the right moulding when you can see the expansion gap between the laminate flooring and the wall.

  2. 2

    Start in one corner of the room. Take the pry bar and insert it into the expansion gap. Move the bar and lift the floor up. In most cases, the laminate will be held together by locking grooves between the boards. In this case, as you lift the board up, gently pull it forward to unlock the pieces. If the laminate was glued together, you will have to pry the pieces apart.

  3. 3

    Continue prying up the boards in the rest of the room. Once you remove the corner piece, the rest of the flooring should be simple. If you want to use the laminate for another installation, be sure to take your time and be gentle when unlocking the boards.

  4. 4

    If you're working with glued laminate planks, the process is the same. Except that you might find that some of the glue is causing the laminate planks to stick to the floor. Melt this away with a heat gun.

  5. 5

    Remove any underlayment such as foam padding and moisture barriers. These are the pieces of plastic that you will see on the ground after pulling up the laminate.

    Removing Glued Laminate

  1. 1

    Make sure that the area that you are working in is well ventilated.

  2. 2

    Fill up the spray bottle with laquer thinner. Wear gloves to protect your hands.

  3. 3

    Start on one side of the floor. Use the pry bar or putty knife to pull up a portion of the floor. Spray the lacquer underneath. Allow this to penetrate for about five minutes.

  4. 4

    Use the pry bar to pull the laminate away from the floor. Break it off, if necessary. Repeat the process of spraying lacquer and pulling up the flooring until the room is cleared.

Tips and warnings

  • When dealing with laminate sheeting, the easiest solution is simply to leave the laminate and use this as the base for a new floor. This is most applicable if you were planning to install laminate planking.
  • You can also try using a heat gun on laminate sheeting, instead of lacquer.
  • Be sure to use proper safety equipment when doing any heavy remodelling.

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