How to Remove Wooden Flooring: A Beginner's Guide

Removing wooden flooring can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re looking to replace your flooring or install something new, removing the old wooden flooring is the first step. With the right tools and techniques, you can remove your wooden flooring with ease and without damaging your subfloor.

Before you begin, it’s important to assess the type of wooden flooring you have and the condition it’s in. If your flooring is in good condition, you may be able to salvage it for reuse or resale. However, if your flooring is damaged or worn, it may be best to remove it entirely. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the type of subfloor you have and whether or not it’s suitable for the new flooring you plan to install. Once you’ve assessed your situation, you can begin the removal process.

Understanding Wooden Flooring

If you’re planning to remove wooden flooring, it’s important to understand the type of flooring you’re dealing with. There are two main types: solid hardwood and engineered hardwood.

Solid hardwood flooring is made of a single piece of wood and is typically thicker than engineered hardwood. It can be sanded and refinished multiple times, making it a more durable option. However, it can also be more expensive and susceptible to warping and shrinking due to changes in humidity.

Engineered hardwood flooring is made of multiple layers of wood, with a top layer of hardwood veneer. It’s more stable than solid hardwood and less prone to shrinking and warping. It’s also typically less expensive than solid hardwood. However, it can only be sanded and refinished a few times before needing to be replaced.

Before removing your wooden flooring, it’s important to determine which type you have. This can affect the tools and techniques you’ll need to use for removal. You can usually tell the difference by looking at the edges of the flooring – solid hardwood will have a solid edge, while engineered hardwood will have a layered edge.

It’s also important to consider the age of your flooring. Older flooring may have been installed with nails or staples, while newer flooring may be glued down. This can also affect the removal process and the tools you’ll need to use.

By understanding the type and age of your wooden flooring, you can better prepare for the removal process and ensure that you’re using the proper tools and techniques.

Tools And Materials Needed

When it comes to removing wooden flooring, having the right tools and materials is essential. Here are the basic tools, safety equipment, and materials you will need to get the job done.

Basic Tools

  • Circular saw: This tool is used to cut through the wooden planks, making it easier to remove them.
  • Reciprocating saw: This tool is optional but really handy. It can be used to cut through nails and other tough materials.
  • Prybar: This tool is used to pry up the wooden planks. It is important to have a prybar with a wide, flat end to avoid damaging the subfloor.
  • Mallet: This tool is used to hit the prybar, helping to loosen the wooden planks.
  • Hammer: This tool is used to remove any nails left in the subfloor.
  • Nail claws: This tool is a type of claw that is used to remove nails.

Safety Equipment

  • Safety goggles: These protect your eyes from flying debris.
  • Dust mask: This protects your lungs from dust and debris.
  • Gloves: These protect your hands from splinters and other injuries.
  • Ear protection: This protects your ears from loud noises.


  • Plastic sheeting: This is used to cover furniture and other items in the room, protecting them from dust and debris.
  • Contractor bags: These are heavy-duty bags used to dispose of the wooden planks and other debris.
  • Adhesive remover: This is used to remove any adhesive left on the subfloor after the wooden planks have been removed.
  • Broom and dustpan: These are used to clean up the room after the wooden planks have been removed.

By having these tools, safety equipment, and materials on hand, you will be well-equipped to remove your wooden flooring safely and efficiently.

Preparation Stage

Before you start removing your wooden flooring, you need to prepare the room and inspect the floor to ensure you’re ready to begin. Here are some steps you should follow during the preparation stage:

Clearing The Room

The first step in preparing to remove your wooden flooring is to clear the room of all furniture, rugs, and other items. This will give you plenty of room to work and ensure that nothing gets damaged during the removal process.

If you have any large pieces of furniture that you can’t move on your own, consider hiring a professional moving company to help you. You don’t want to risk injuring yourself or damaging your furniture by trying to move it on your own.

Inspecting The Floor

Once the room is clear, you should inspect the floor to identify any potential problems. Look for any loose boards, damaged areas, or signs of water damage. If you find any of these issues, you’ll need to address them before you start removing the flooring.

You should also check for any nails, staples, or other fasteners that are holding the flooring in place. Make note of where they are so you can avoid them during the removal process.

Before you start removing the flooring, you should also put on protective clothing, including gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. The removal process can be messy and potentially dangerous, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

By following these steps during the preparation stage, you’ll be well on your way to successfully removing your wooden flooring.

Removing The Wooden Flooring

Removing wooden flooring may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done with relative ease. Here are some steps to help you remove your wooden flooring without damaging the subfloor or the surrounding areas.

Starting The Removal

Before you start removing the wooden flooring, it is important to prepare the area. Remove all furniture, rugs, and other items from the room. Turn off any heating or cooling systems to prevent dust from spreading throughout the house.

Next, locate the starting point of the wooden flooring. This is usually the area closest to the door or the edge of the room. Use a pry bar and a hammer to remove the baseboards along the walls. This will give you more room to work and prevent damage to the walls.

Once the baseboards are removed, use a circular saw to cut the wooden flooring into manageable sections. Start at the edge of the room and work your way towards the middle. Make sure to wear safety goggles and a dust mask to protect yourself from sawdust and debris.

Handling Stubborn Areas

Some areas of the wooden flooring may be more difficult to remove than others. If you encounter a stubborn area, use a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade to cut through the nails or staples holding the wooden flooring in place.

If the wooden flooring is glued down, use a floor scraper to remove the adhesive. Be careful not to damage the subfloor or the surrounding areas.

Once the wooden flooring is removed, use a vacuum or a broom to clean up any debris. Inspect the subfloor for damage and make any necessary repairs before installing new flooring.

By following these steps, you can remove your wooden flooring without damaging the subfloor or the surrounding areas. With a little patience and the right tools, you can successfully complete this DIY project and give your room a fresh new look.

Dealing With Leftover Adhesive

Removing wooden flooring can be a tedious task, but dealing with leftover adhesive can be even more challenging. Here are some tips on how to get rid of adhesive residue effectively:

1. Use Hot Water and Towels

One of the easiest ways to remove adhesive residue is by using hot water and towels. Soak some old towels in hot water and place them on the adhesive residue. Leave them there for a few minutes, then start scrubbing the residue off with a putty knife. Repeat the process until all the adhesive is gone.

2. Try a Commercial Adhesive Remover

If hot water and towels don’t work, you can try using a commercial adhesive remover. These products are specifically designed to dissolve adhesive residue. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully and wear protective gloves and goggles.

3. Use Acetone

Acetone is another effective adhesive remover. Apply a small amount of acetone to a cloth or sponge and rub it onto the adhesive residue. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a clean cloth.

4. Sand the Residue Away

If all else fails, you can sand the adhesive residue away. Use a fine-grit sandpaper and be careful not to damage the surrounding area. This method should only be used as a last resort.

Remember to always test any adhesive remover or solvent on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the flooring. With a little patience and some elbow grease, you can successfully remove leftover adhesive and have a clean, smooth surface for your new flooring.

Repairing The Subfloor

If your wooden flooring has been damaged due to water or other reasons, it’s important to repair the subfloor before installing new flooring. Here are the steps to repair the subfloor:

  1. Remove the damaged section of the subfloor: Use a circular saw to cut out the damaged section of the subfloor. Make sure to cut along the joists so that you have a clean edge to work with.

  2. Assess the damage: Check the joists to make sure they are not damaged. If they are, you will need to repair or replace them before installing new subfloor.

  3. Cut a new piece of subfloor: Measure the size of the hole and cut a new piece of subfloor to fit. Make sure the new piece is the same thickness as the existing subfloor.

  4. Install the new subfloor: Apply construction adhesive to the joists and place the new subfloor in the hole. Use screws to secure the subfloor to the joists.

  5. Sand the edges: Sand the edges of the new subfloor so that they are level with the existing subfloor.

  6. Install the new flooring: Once the subfloor is repaired, you can install the new flooring. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.

By following these steps, you can repair the subfloor and install new flooring that will look great and last for years to come.

Disposing Of Old Wooden Flooring

Once you have removed your old wooden flooring, it’s important to dispose of it properly. Here are some options for disposing of your old wooden flooring:


Wooden flooring can be recycled and repurposed for other projects. Check with your local recycling center or waste management facility to see if they accept wooden flooring for recycling. Some facilities may require the wood to be separated from other construction debris, so be sure to follow their guidelines.


If recycling is not an option, you can dispose of your old wooden flooring in a landfill. However, be aware that this is not the most eco-friendly option. Wooden flooring takes a long time to decompose in a landfill and can release harmful chemicals into the environment as it breaks down.


If your old wooden flooring is still in good condition, consider repurposing it for other projects. You can use the wood to create furniture, accent walls, or even artwork. Get creative and see what you can come up with!


Another option for disposing of your old wooden flooring is to donate it to a local charity or non-profit organization. Many organizations accept building materials for use in their projects, and your old flooring could be just what they need.

No matter which option you choose, be sure to dispose of your old wooden flooring responsibly. By doing so, you can help reduce waste and protect the environment.

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