Removing Laminate Flooring

Laminate can be a lost-cost and low-maintenance option for people who want authentic-looking hardwood flooring, with only one or two small drawbacks compared to the real thing. However, one of these drawbacks – the fact that it can wear out faster – can make replacement flooring necessary.

While it is easy enough to install brand new laminate flooring, the harder part can be removing the laminate flooring that you have already got installed. Here are some things to consider before you try to brute-force the project.

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When should I remove laminate flooring?

Most laminate will last somewhere between fifteen to twenty-five years if it gets used regularly, or as little as ten years with a lot of foot traffic. Over time, you can expect to see a lot of cracking, peeling, and other kinds of damage.

Removing the flooring at the right time is important since you do not want to leave it too early or too late. The removal process could damage potentially useful patches of laminate flooring, but it may also become harder to remove safely if it is very cracked and broken.

Gathering your Tools

There are a few core tools that you will want if you are planning to pull up a laminate floor.

  • A pry bar/crowbar
  • Pliers
  • A mallet and/or hammer
  • A dust mask and safety glasses to protect you from potential risks
  • Work gloves, ideally ones that give you a decent grip on your tools

Depending on what your subfloor is made from, you might also want a mop, floor scraper, heat gun, or orbital sander. The floor scraper is perfect for concrete subfloors, while the orbital sander works well with wood.

Do not hesitate to rent some of these tools yourself if you do not have them. This can cut down on the total cost of the project.

Removing the Flooring

Removing your laminate flooring can seem like a daunting project at first, but it is actually quite simple. You just need to make sure that you are fully prepared and understand what kind of steps you will have to take.

Remove the Furniture

Always take all of the furniture out of your room. It is much easier to work on pulling up the floor when there is nothing in your way, so try to clear the space as much as possible. 

If you are going to remove the laminate flooring from the entire room, then you can also consider prying baseboards off the wall to save time. You will want to be careful if you are planning to replace them later on, though.

Soften the Glue

Before you do anything else, it is a good idea to try and mop the floor first. This can help loosen and soften the glue that holds the planks down – which you can follow up with your heat gun, gradually melting the glue around the edges of the flooring.

You should also remove transition pieces, the strips that are often used in doorways or spaces that connect one room to another. You can usually get them out with your pry bar, giving you an easy way to start pulling up the planks.

Remove the Floor Strips

After that, you simply have to start removing the flooring itself. Start at a corner or against a wall, using the existing gap there to get the pry bar underneath. If there is resistance, then you can gently hammer the bar into place, then twist it upwards to loosen the board.

If a board is still glued down, then you need to apply heat. The glue will eventually melt, but you will not always know where most of the glue is, so you will have to try and guess based on how the boards are getting stuck.

It is possible that your flooring might be installed over other flooring types. If you bought the house with the laminate already installed, then you have no idea what is underneath – be careful since older homes could have asbestos in the lower flooring.

Remove the Adhesive

There will usually still be some glue left behind after you remove the individual strips of laminate flooring. Once you have removed the floor, you will have a lot of that adhesive still lingering around, and you often want to remove it before you try to replace the floor itself.

Laminate attached to a wood subfloor can easily be cleared using an orbital sander. Remember to wear your mask and glasses since this can help you avoid the dust and dirt that might be thrown up while sanding.

Laminate flooring that was placed on a concrete subfloor can have a lot of residue lingering there too. You can use the floor scraper to remove it, along with any other debris that might be stuck there – just be sure to replace the blade if it gets dull.

Disposal

A lot of the flooring that you pull up can be permanently damaged, meaning that you will just have to throw it away. If the laminate was already damaged anyway, then you might as well dispose of anything that you can’t re-use.

Throwing away a lot of flooring can be tough, especially if the laminate is heavy and still has a lot of adhesives sticking it all together. Even if you can fit it all into your car, you never know if there might still be hazardous materials on the underside of the laminate pieces.

Consider getting one of our dumpster rentals to make the process a lot easier – you do not need to worry about disposing of each piece yourself and instead can focus on the rest of the renovations or home improvement jobs you had in mind.

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