How to Uninstall Nailed-Down Hardwood Floors

Wood flooring comes in an array of designs.

The most common type of wood strip flooring is 2 ¼ inch wide strips featuring tongue and grove edges. This flooring is easily installed by interlocking the groove with the tongue of each course of flooring. Wood strip flooring is also easily removed as the nails are placed at a 45 degree angle through the tongue area of the strips into the subfloor beneath. To remove the flooring, you simply need to pry up on the tongue end of the flooring and dislodge the nails.

Remove the base trim from the perimeter of the room.

Locate the side of the room where the tongue of the wood flooring is exposed; this is where you will begin the floor removal process. Look for an easy access point along the edge, so that you can insert a pry bar between the wood flooring and subfloor. Easy access points include doorways and breaks in the room where the flooring ends.

Place the flat end of the pry bar between the strip of flooring and the subfloor beneath. Use a hammer to tap the back end of the pry tool until it is firmly wedged under the flooring.

Using the prying tool, pull up the first strip of flooring. Once the nails are slightly pulled out of the subfloor, slide the strip of flooring out so that the groove slides away from the tongue of the next course.

Remove the nails that are left over in the strips of flooring or are still sticking into the subfloor. Use pliers to remove the skinny nails.

Continue to the next strip of flooring and follow the previous steps. Follow the same process across the entire floor, until all flooring has been removed.

Things You Will Need

  • Flat head prying tool
  • Hammer
  • Pliers

Tip

  • When prying up on the wood strips to dislodge the nails from the subfloor, be careful not to raise the flooring too high; this could cause the bottom portion of the groove to split.

About the Author

Elizabeth Arnold has written for a wide variety of publications and websites. Her experience includes writing travel features for "Recommend" magazine and packaging marketing copy for both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. consumer products. Recently, Arnold was a staff writer for "Special Events" magazine. Arnold studied English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.