Over time, hardwood floors may become warped, cupped or even rotten. If you want to replace your old hardwood floors with a newer option, you will need to remove it. Removal options vary depending on how the hardwood floors are installed--glue-down options require slightly different tools than nail-down. Contractors will use several tools depending on how difficult the flooring is to remove.
A floor scraper is a sturdy scraper designed to remove leftover adhesive from the plywood or concrete where the floorboards were originally attached. When floorboards are removed, it is very common for much of the glue to be left attached to the floor but ripped off the board. This glue needs to be removed to level the floor, so a flooring scraper is a very common tool in nail-down floors.
For all types of wood flooring, a saw is a necessary removal tool. Contractors (and do-it-yourselfers) use a circular saw set to a very precise level, just enough to lightly brush the subfloor without damaging it, cutting fully through the floorboards themselves.
A chisel is useful for removing floorboards that are stuck on with resistant nails or too much glue. You may prefer chisels for removing smaller pieces of boards that remain after the other pieces of board have been ripped away. A chisel is also useful for removing any leftover nail, common when removing nail-down hardwood flooring.
A claw hammer is a traditional type of hammer designed with a pronged end for prying out nails or boards. This hammer works when prying up boards, whether they are nailed down or attached with glue. In a pinch, it can also be used to hammer on chisels to provide extra force. Contractors often use claw hammers to rip out boards laying against walls.
Another common hammer for removing wood floors is the sledge hammer. Sledge hammers serve several purposes: they are used to apply force to large chisels to rip out boards, and when several boards have been removed they are also used to force other boards, especially glue-down, from their places.