How to Remove Laminate Flooring

removing laminate flooring

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Yield: Removed laminate flooring
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $0

There are plenty of reasons you may need to remove laminate flooring. Maybe you're making over your space with a better laminate floor, looking to swap flooring materials altogether, or simply looking to repurpose the flooring in another room (yes, it's possible). Luckily, the only thing easier than installing laminate flooring is removing it.

Before You Begin

Before starting any sort of demolition project, plan your course of action and set yourself up for success. If you don't plan to reuse the laminate flooring, make a plan for discarding or donating it so it can be promptly removed from your home after removal. To make things easier, clear the furniture from the space ahead of time, getting it as far from the workspace as possible to create a safe work environment.

Reusing Laminate Flooring

In many cases, reusing laminate flooring is feasible. Just make sure the space in which you intend to reinstall the laminate is small enough that no additional material will be needed, as finding matching laminate will likely be challenging. Additionally, make sure the space matches the specifications of the laminate you're reusing. For example, don't install laminate flooring intended for above-grade use in a basement.

Removing Glued Laminate Flooring

Nearly all laminate flooring is installed as a floating floor, but you'll sometimes find glued laminate flooring. The boards may simply be glued together or the flooring itself may adhere to the subfloor. In this case, a heat gun can help loosen adhesive and a floor scraper can remove adhesive from the subfloor. Glued flooring can't be reused, so don't worry about damaging it as you remove it.

Safety Considerations

Demolition of any kind is dangerous. Even a project like removing laminate flooring carries risks, and you should always wear appropriate safety gear. Gloves will protect your hands from cuts, as the edges of the laminate can be sharp. Additionally, safety glasses and respirator masks should always be worn during material removal due to harmful particles being released into the air, especially during sanding or when using chemical removal agents. To protect your knees, wear knee pads or use a foam kneeling cushion.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Flat pry bar
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Utility knife
  • Wire cutters
  • Scrap wood or thick cardboard (optional)
  • Wet/dry vac
  • Heat gun (optional)
  • Floor scraper (optional)
  • Work gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Respirator


How to Remove Laminate Flooring

Follow the steps below to remove a floating laminate flooring and prep your subfloor for new flooring.

  1. Remove the Transition Strips

    If your floor features transition strips between rooms or different flooring materials, carefully remove them with a pry bar. If you find a screwed-down bracket beneath the transition strip, remove that as well. All transition strips are a little different and you may need to adjust these methods to remove yours.

  2. Remove the Trim

    To remove the quarter round, follow these steps:

    1. Carefully score the seam between the baseboard and quarter round using a utility knife to break any paint or caulk bond and prevent the paint from pulling from the baseboard.
    2. Starting in the corner, slide a pry bar into the joint and gently pry outward.
    3. Once you identify where the first nail is, move the pry bar directly behind it and pry outward until the nail exits the wall.
    4. Continue at each nail point until the quarter round is fully detached.
    5. Clip the nails to prevent injury.

    If the laminate flooring also sits beneath the baseboard, follow the same procedure to remove it from the wall. Score the seam to prevent the paint from pulling from the wall, then carefully remove it with a pry bar.

    If you plan to reuse any of the trim, label the back of it with a marker as well as the corresponding spot on the wall to make it easier to reinstall.


    When removing trim with a pry bar, slide a piece of thick cardboard or thin scrap wood between the pry bar and the surface you're prying against to protect it from dents and scratches. This is a necessary step if you plan to reuse the trim.

  3. Pull the First Row

    Grab the lip of the first row of laminate flooring and lift it to a 45-degree angle, then pop it out of the second row. If it's too close to the wall, use a pry bar to flip it up. Separating the rows may require you to shimmy and tilt the pieces a bit, but they should eventually pop loose.

  4. Remove Remaining Rows

    Continue removing each row by popping the joints loose. To make quick work of cleaning up, create neat stacks of flooring as you go.

  5. Roll Up Underlayment (optional)

    If your flooring has a foam underlayment beneath it, roll it up and discard it.

  6. Clean Up the Subfloor

    Remove any debris from the subfloor using a wet/dry vac. If necessary, scrape up any adhesive or residue. For some stubborn adhesives, a heat gun will help soften them.

  • Can you recycle laminate flooring?

    Modern advancements have allowed up to 85% of laminate flooring's mass to be recycled. However, this is only true for certain laminate flooring materials. Check with your manufacturer for advice on recycling your specific material.

  • Can you reuse laminate flooring?

    Laminate flooring that's been installed as a floating floor can usually be reused, so long as the flooring isn't damaged in a way that compromises its function and ability to be reinstalled.

  • Can you burn laminate flooring?

    While many people choose to burn old wood during demolition, you should find another way to discard laminate flooring. Though laminate features a wood fiberboard core, it also contains many plastics, which will release toxins when burnt.