How to Take Up Floorboards

Though they can last more than a quarter of a century when properly installed, hardwood floorboards can develop issues like any other type of flooring. If the floorboards in your hardwood floor become dented, broken or stained, you can take up the floorboards to replace the ones that have issues. You can also take up the floorboards in your hardwood floor at any time if you want to change the flooring type in a room.

Take up the trim from around the floor. In instances where the trim has not been installed with adhesive, simply pick the trim up and remove it from the area. If the trim is glued down, push a putty knife beneath the trim where it meets the floor and along the back of the trim where it meets the wall to dislodge it. Slide the knife down the wall, dislodging the trim a few inches at a time until you can finally pull it free.

Check the floorboards to make sure that they weren't installed as a floating floor. Go to the edge of the floor where you can't see the tongues of the boards, grasp the edge of the board closest to the wall and try to lift the board. If the board lifts off the floor with little resistance, pull it toward you to try to pull the tongue from the groove of the adjacent board. If the board comes free, use this method to take up all of the other floorboards.

Go to the opposite edge of the floor, where the tongues are visible, if the board does not come free. Wedge a crowbar under the first board at one end of the row and pry upward gently. Move the crowbar a few inches down the board and pry upward again. Continue this process to the end of the board until it comes free of the board to which it is connected.

Remove all of the boards in the first row in this manner, prying them up with a crowbar. Many of these boards are likely to break due to the method of removal, but you must take them up first in order to get to the other floorboards.

Begin prying the board at one end of the second row in the same manner that you pried up the first row. Once you get the board lifted up a few inches though, look at the seam where the board you are prying up meets the board that it is connected to on the floor. You should see some of the nails that secure the boards together.

Pull out the nails that you can see in the floorboard with a hammer if you can get a hammer into the space. If not, use pliers to twist and pull each nail until it comes free. When you get the first nails removed, pry up the next few inches of the floorboard and repeat the nail removal process until all the nails have been removed from the floorboard and the floorboard can be pulled free.

Use a hammer or pliers to remove any nails left in the floorboards. Also, carefully walk over the surface of the floor from which you removed the floorboards to make sure you don't leave any nails behind.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Crowbar
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
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About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.