Want to change up your flooring situation? Follow these 3 steps to easily remove your old laminate floor.

Laminate is a terrific low-cost flooring option for many homes, and modern wood-look laminate flooring looks almost as good as the real thing. The only downside? It doesn’t last as long as hardwood, which means at some point you will need to replace some or all of your floorboards.

Fortunately, removing laminate flooring is relatively easy. Whether you need to replace a few damaged pieces, or just want a new floor, our quick guide will show you how to tear up laminate flooring yourself.

The Tools You’ll Need:

  • Pry bar
  • Pliers
  • Mallet
  • Dust mask
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves

Optional:

  • Mop
  • Heat gun
  • Floor scraper (for concrete subfloor)
  • Orbital sander (for wood subfloor)

Step 1: Prep the Room

You should move all of the furniture out of the room before starting. If you’re removing the entire floor, go ahead and pry the baseboards from the walls to save yourself some time. If you plan to reinstall your baseboards, remove them carefully and label each one’s location in the room.

Depending on how your laminate floors were installed, there are a few additional prep steps you’ll need to take.

For glue-down strips:

  • Mop the floor before prying up the boards to soften the glue holding the planks to the floor. Starting at an edge piece, use a heat gun to melt the glue while also prying up the board.

For floating floors:

  • Remove any transition pieces first. These are the raised strips that separate adjacent rooms. Work your pry bar underneath the strip, being careful not to remove the u-track it sits in. This will allow you to easily remove any adjoining floor planks.

How Do I Dispose of Laminate Flooring?

If you have a small amount of flooring and other debris, you can usually throw them out with your regular trash pickup service. However, if you’re replacing an entire room’s worth of flooring, we recommend renting a dumpster to make sure you can dispose of everything at the end of your project.

Step 2: Start at One Corner or Wall Piece

With the prep work out of the way, your next step is to start removing the laminate flooring strips. Start at a corner or wall piece, using the gap between the wall and the board to work your pry bar underneath. Use a mallet to hammer the bar in place if you feel a lot of resistance. Once the pry bar is under the board, you should be able to lift it up by 30 to 45 degrees. Continue working the bar underneath the rest of the board until it comes loose.

“Most laminate floors are installed as interlocking, floating floors. This means they simply lay on top of the subfloor with no adhesive. To remove them, you typically just tear the first one out and then unlock the rest and throw them away.”

Ashely DeZeeuw | Laminate Category Manager, Flooring Inc.

Remember to keep applying heat to the board if it is glued directly to the subfloor. If the planks are glued to each other, lift a foot or more of the flooring at once and pull to separate them.

Men Installing Laminate Flooring

In some cases, you may find that your home’s previous owners may have installed new flooring over the old, putting up one or more barriers between you and the subfloor.

“You never know what’s underneath the laminate. Sometimes you get a perfectly smooth concrete slab (this is what you’re hoping for) or sometimes you find layers of other floors hiding beneath. It’s kind of like a scratcher lottery ticket – anything could be underneath that floor once it’s pulled up.”

Ashely DeZeeuw | Laminate Category Manager, Flooring Inc.

If the flooring underneath looks like old linoleum or vinyl, do not tear it up with the rest of the laminate flooring. Depending on when it was installed, it could contain asbestos. Before proceeding, test the material to determine if it’s safe to remove yourself. If the test is negative, you’re in the clear.

Step 3: Scrape or Sand Any Leftover Residue

If the laminate was glued to a concrete subfloor, you’ll likely have a lot of adhesive residue left over. A floor scraper is ideal for removing any glue or other debris stuck to the concrete. Simply run it along the surface at a 15 to 30 degree angle, making sure to replace the blade if it starts to dull.

If you’re removing laminate flooring from a wood subfloor, use an orbital sander to remove any remaining adhesive. Make sure you wear a mask and safety glasses for this step to avoid irritating your throat and eyes.

How Long Do Laminate Floors Last?

Most laminate floors last between 15 and 25 years, but can vary from as little as 10 years to as long as 30 years depending on foot traffic. For comparison, hardwood floors can last several decades with proper maintenance, especially with refinishing. Unfortunately, once the top layer of a laminate floor wears away, the only option is to replace it.

If your subfloor isn’t perfect, Ashley DeZeeuw of Flooring Inc recommends replacing your floors with SPC or WPC vinyl as they “don’t necessarily need to be as flat and level since they are dense and help hide subfloor imperfections,” she says. “These are a personal favorite for us since customers and installers can save time and money on the process of floor leveling and subfloor prep. Plus, they’re 100% waterproof!”

Whether you decide to make the switch to vinyl, or are simply replacing a few boards, you’re now ready to install your new flooring. Remember to take your time removing your old laminate floor and make sure you have a plan for throwing out your debris. The last thing you want is a large pile of floorboards and clumps of glue sitting in front of your home.


Have a few other flooring projects in mind? These posts will help you get started: