How to Remove Glued Down Hardwood Flooring

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Gluing down hardwood flooring is a complicated process, requiring you to painstakingly place each plank, perfectly lined up to provide a beautiful surface that can last decades. Removing those same hardwood flooring boards is another matter. It's a labor-intensive, messy process that requires a few tools combined with brute strength. When the job is finished, you'll have a subfloor surface that's ready to begin again with a new floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Circular saw
  • Pry bar
  • Mini sledge hammer
  • Floor scraper
  • Determine the thickness of the hardwood flooring to be removed. You can do this by checking the floorboards against the walls. Remove the baseboards and trim, revealing the expansion joint along the wall. Place a ruler through the joint to the subfloor below, gaining an accurate measurement of the floorboard thickness.

  • Use a circular saw set to the depth of the subfloor to cut the entire surface of the hardwood flooring into square-foot sections. For best results, make the cuts along the seam lines whenever possible.

  • Beginning at the wall, remove each square-foot section by placing the pry bar at the edge of the flooring and using the mini sledge hammer to force the pry bar beneath the flooring. Pry the square from the floor. Work down the line of flooring along the wall, and then towards the opposite wall, moving row by row until you've removed all the squares. Dispose of the squares.

  • Use a floor scraper rented from a home improvement store or equipment rental shop to remove the remaining glue on the floor. The floor scraper is a machine with a solid plate and carbide teeth on the bottom which will cut right through the glue left on the subfloor.

  • Remove any traces of glue remaining by pouring boiling water directly onto the glue to liquefy it. Cover the water with rags. When the rags have cooled enough to touch, remove them, wiping away the glue in the process.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many of the hardwood squares will come up in fairly good condition. These squares can be reused for any project requiring scrap wood material such as planters or boxes, but any glue remaining will have to be removed completely in order to put them to use.
  • If there are staples in the flooring from a carpet installation, they can present a cutting hazard. Remove any staples from the floor's surface before removing the flooring.

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