Guide to Removing Old Hardwood Floors for Renovations

Mar 5, 2019

Hardwood floors lend a warm, welcoming look to a home but they are not easy to remove or replace once they have done their time. Ripping off the planks the wrong way can ruin your flooring and cause irreparable damage to the subfloor. It can also be a costly affair so it’s not uncommon to find homeowners attempting to do it themselves. If you feel up to ita DIY task to cut costs, read through our suggestions below for a job well done.

Lay the Groundwork

  • Mark the Removal Area: First, prepare the area you will be working on. Chalk out the flooring space that needs to be removed. Figure out how much you need to pull up and what exactly needs to be done thereafter. Do you need a new carpet? Should you install a different flooring material such as tiles or laminate? Make sure you have a clear plan in mind before you proceed so that you are not left with a ripped floor for too long.
  • Start from the Middle: Choose one area and work your way from there. It is usually easier to remove the boards in the middle and work your way outward. Use tape to mark boundaries and pry off planks with more precision.
  • Cover the floor with tarps: Removing hardwood floors can rake up a lot of sawdust and debris that can settle on your furniture, electric appliances and light fixtures. If you don’t want a coat of sawdust blanketing your home and ruining electrical components, cover up everything in the room with a tarp to protect all items. Hold them in place with masking or painters tape that is easy to remove once you’re done. Pick up clutter around you to avoid accidents and create more room to work in. Clean the sawdust from uncovered surfaces or the dust will blow with the wind and settle on other objects.
  • Wear Safety Gear: Protect yourself with the right safety gear before you get started. Wear working gloves before you pick up the saw, protective eyewear and a breathing mask to keep off dust and mould. Wear working boots with thick soles to avoid nails from piercing through, long sleeved clothing and a pair of knee pads.

Remove the Planks

  • Saw the Boards: Cut up wooden planks into smaller perpendicular sections to make them easier to handle. Cut a vertical line from one end of the flooring area to the other, turn and continue in a horizontal direction. Set the depth of the saw blade to the same thickness as the hardwood to avoid sawing over the edge of the board.
  • Pry up the Boards: Next, you need to wedge the end of the pry bar under the boards and pull the handle back sharply to remove the boards in the same direction that they are nailed down. They should pop up easily if they are sawed properly. If the boards are hard to budge, strike the underside with a chisel to separate.
  • Dispose the Old Hardwood: Collect the wood and splinters in a trash bag and dispose properly in a recycling centre or reuse it for another purpose. Make sure you pick up stray nails, protruding nails, staples, loose metal fasteners and splinters by hand with your gloves on. Sweep the sawdust, wood chips and remaining debris, then vacuum out the area. Roll up the tarp and vacuum once again to clean up fine dust. For a more thorough cleaning, use a microfibre cloth or towel to clean the furniture and appliances.

Milton Hardwood Floors: High-Quality Hardwood Flooring and Installation

Milton Hardwood Floors has been rated BEST of 2015, 2017, and 2018 Hardwood retailers and installers by We provide high-quality hardwood flooring and installation to the Greater Toronto Area for 20 years. Our goal is to help you make your home and space as beautiful as you envision. Choose from over 150 collections of hardwood flooring options. Browse through our online collections, available at attractive prices. We also offer hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring installation with a team of experienced, fast, and reliable staff. Contact us for installation options.