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Home / Installation Questions / How to Remove Hardwood Floors

How to Remove Hardwood Floors

removing hardwood floors

Source: Pavel_K / Shutterstock.com

Step 1: Select the Right Tools/Gear

Gather the proper tools and safety gear to remove hardwood floors

Tools

  • Circular Saw

  • Pry Bar 

  • Mallet

  • Nail Claw

  • Curved Vice Finger Grips

  • Large Magnet

  • Shop Vacuum

Safety Gear

  • Safety Glasses

  • Dust Mask

  • Gloves with Padded Palm

  • Knee Pads

  • Long Pants

  • Boots

  • Tarps

Step 2: Prepare the Space

 
  • Remove furniture, electronics and other items, covering heavier items or attached light fixtures with tarps to protect from dust. Place tarps in nearby rooms, as dust will spread. Remove floor vents and surrounding baseboards. 

  • Determine the hardwood floors to be removed and create a boundary with masking tape. (This makes cutting and prying up floorboards precise.) While you have masking tape, tack up any tarps or coverings.

Step 3: Protect the Subfloor

Hardwood floors are either nailed or glued (sometimes, both) to a plywood subfloor base to prevent squeaking. 

Protect the subfloor and determine the subfloor’s structural integrity. If your subfloor becomes loose or damaged, it may need to be replaced. If you miss this step, your new floors can become loose or pull away. 

The best way to prevent this damage is to set your saw to slightly less than the wood flooring thickness as you cut away. 

Step 4: Cut and Pry the Hardwood

Assuming you don’t intend to reuse or donate the hardwood, begin cutting it into small, easy-to-remove sections. Put on your safety glasses as you stir up sawdust. 

  • Set your saw to slightly less than the flooring thickness to prevent subfloor damage. 

  • Take the circular saw and cut perpendicular across the boards, roughly one to two feet wide, to make them more manageable to pry up. Run the saw from one end of the flooring to the other, continuing back and forth. 

  • Wedge the pry bar beneath a section of the hardwood floors and pull back sharply to pop out the board. If it resists, strike the board’s underside with a chisel. 

Step 5: Clean Up Debris, Get Rid of Old Flooring and Clean the Area

  • As you work, keep a trash bin nearby to toss in scraps of wood. 

  • Clean up debris like nails and staples. (Hint: A strong handheld magnet works very well!) 

  • Sweep sawdust, wood chips, etc. into a pile and suck everything up using a shop vac.

  • Roll up tarps, carrying them outside to be shaken out, cleaned or trashed. 

 

Twenty & Oak recommends seeking a professional to remove hardwood floors. Browse our hardwood flooring selection to find a replacement.

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Twenty & Oak Experts
Twenty & Oak Experts are a team of flooring professionals with over 150 years of combined experience in the industry. They have hands-on experience with all flooring types and bring inside industry know-how to homeowners in the Southeast.