How to Remove Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a popular flooring choice due to their durability and aesthetic appeal. However, there may come a time when you need to remove them, whether it be for replacement, renovation, or repair. The process of removing hardwood floors can seem daunting, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a straightforward and manageable task. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to safely and efficiently remove hardwood floors.

Step 1: Preparation

Before you begin removing hardwood floors, you will need to prepare your work area. First, turn off all power and utilities that may be connected to the area, such as heating, air conditioning, or plumbing. Remove any furniture or appliances from the room, and cover any remaining fixtures with plastic sheets to protect them from dust and debris. You should also wear protective gear, such as goggles, gloves, and a dust mask, to prevent injuries and exposure to harmful particles.

Step 2: Remove Trim and Molding

The next step is to remove any trim or molding that may be around the edges of your hardwood floors. This includes baseboards, quarter round, and shoe molding. Use a pry bar or hammer and chisel to carefully loosen the pieces from the wall without damaging them. If you plan to reuse the trim, label it with tape to ensure easy reinstallation later.

Step 3: Cut the Hardwood into Strips

Once the trim and molding have been removed, it’s time to start removing the hardwood planks. The best way to do this is by cutting the planks into strips that are about 6-8 inches wide. This makes it easier to remove them without damaging the subfloor underneath. Use a circular saw or reciprocating saw to cut through the planks along their length. Be sure to wear earplugs to protect your hearing from the noise of the saw.

Step 4: Remove the Strips

With the hardwood planks cut into strips, it’s time to start removing them. Use a pry bar or floor scraper to pry up each strip, starting at one end and working your way across. Wedge the tool underneath the plank and gently pry it up, being careful not to damage the subfloor underneath. If the planks are glued down, you may need to use a heat gun to soften and loosen the adhesive before prying them up.

Step 5: Remove the Nails or Staples

As you remove each strip of hardwood, you will likely encounter small nails or staples that were used to secure them to the subfloor. You will need to remove these carefully to avoid damaging the subfloor. Use pliers or a nail puller to gently pry out each nail or staple, being careful not to damage the wood around it. If a nail or staple is difficult to remove, you may need to use a hammer to tap it out.

Step 6: Clean Up and Dispose

After all the hardwood strips have been removed, it’s time to clean up the work area. Sweep or vacuum up any debris or dust on the subfloor, as well as any remaining nails or staples. Dispose of the hardwood planks, trim, and molding in accordance with your local waste management regulations. If you plan to reuse any of the materials, make sure they are sorted and stored in a safe and dry location.


Removing hardwood floors may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a manageable and even enjoyable project. By following these simple steps, you can safely and efficiently remove your hardwood floors and prepare your space for whatever comes next.