5 Tips of Removing Hardwood Flooring without Breaking a Sweat

Removing hardwood flooring

Removing Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors come with a life expectancy of around 40 years, but let’s face it, every now and then, you will feel the need to change them, either due to damage, design reasons or simply because a new and improved type of floor is on the market and you want to try it out. Removing hardwood floors depends on several factors:

  • How well the floor was installed
  • What kind of hardwood floor you’re trying to demo (if it’s glued to the ground, it’s obviously harder to take down than if it’s a floating floor).
  • The type of floor you want to install after you take down the current one (if you’re installing a floating floor afterward, it’s ok if the ground is still slightly bumpy, but if you’re installing the glued floor, then the ground must be absolutely clean and perfectly level).

Tools and Accessories

  • Clawhammer – This is a great way to pick up floor panels that are near a wall and can’t be grabbed or taken off otherwise. In case of need, a claw hammer can also be quite messy 🙂
  • Sledgehammer – If you’re into hardwood flooring demolition, a sledgehammer is your most trusted tool. Just make sure you only break the hardwood and not what’s underneath.
  • Flooring scraper – This is a must-have if you’re dealing with the glued floor.
  • Common crowbar/pry bar – After whacking away with your sledgehammer, you can use the pry bar to pick up floor tiles easily.
  • A circular saw (with extra blades) – You can cut the floor using a circular saw or jigsaw, then use the pry bar, but make sure you have some extra blades handy, the initial ones will dull out after a while.
  • Chisel – You need a chisel for removing hardwood flooring. Get a better chisel which will help you to do your work quickly and smoothly.


Unlike when you’re installing the hardwood, removing it doesn’t require as much preparation. Basically, all you need is to know what type of flooring method was used, so you can use the tools accordingly.

If you’re using a circular saw, you could cut the floor up a bit to make it easier to remove.

You will need to find the distance from the top of the floor to the ground so that the blades don’t go through the wood and reach the concrete and break.

Removing hardwood floors

Removing Hardwood Flooring – Step by Step Instructions

  1. Saw up the floor, cutting it in 1-2 feet areas with a circular.
  2. Whack the floor with the sledge hammer systematically.
  3. Use the crowbar to get under the shattered panels and pick them up.
  4. Scrape the glue (if any) off the ground with the scraper.
  5. Clean up and start installing the new floor.

Clean Up

Since you’ll have the hardest time removing hardwood floors that were glued down, it’s only fair to refer to them when talking about cleaning up. The truth is, it’s a messy procedure and you won’t get off easy even when you’re done with the demolition.

Saw dust from the circular, pieces of wood that came as a result of the sledgehammer’s pounding, or chunks of glue stripped from the ground by the scraper…all these can amount to quite a messy scenario that you’ll have a hard time cleaning up. Arm yourself with patience.

Special Tips

  • Start by removing the panels from the tongue part, it’s easier this way
  • Try to be an organized demolition man. Remove the panels one by one instead of removing chunks of the floor. This creates less mess and it’s less likely that the ground beneath will suffer from the removal process.

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