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removing laminate flooring

3243 Views 24 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Fix'n it

We have laminate flooring in our house in the large living room/dining area/kitchen and the attached 1/2 bathroom (total area ~500 sq feet). The house was built in 2002, so it is about 11 year old. Over the past two years, we have had several spills (thanks to my two little ones) and the flooring has swollen at many places and makes pop sounds if we step in those areas. We are replacing the flooring with a new laminate floor and this will be my project of this kind.

I just bought some inexpensive laminate flooring from Costco - it has preattached underlayment and suppose to simply click together. I have been reading a lot of posts and have seen some videos about installation but not much about removing the current laminate flooring - which I think may be the more labor intensive part.

What type of tools would I need to remove the current laminate floor? For 500 sq feet area, how long would it take me to do this and what do I need to know before I jump into this.

Here is what I think I need to do:
0. Move things out of the room - Friday afternoon
1. remove baseboards (2-4 hours) - Friday evening
2. remove flooring (4 hours) - Saturday morning
3. clean the floor (don't really know what to expect and what I would need to do) - 2 hours - Saturday afternoon
4. start installation - Saturday afternoon and finish by Sunday afternoon.
5. replace the baseboards - Sunday afternoon

Would it be possible for me to do this entire project (minus the 1/2 bath) over 1 weekend? I have no experience with any of these things and will be a novice.

Many thanks!

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Are you 100% sure it's ran under the baseboards and not just under the 1/4 round?
How do you plan on cutting the new floor? Do you have a compound miter saw?
Have you bought the install kit yet?
I am not sure - I will find it tomorrow. If it flooring is just under the 1/4 round that would be nice and save me some time.

I did get the install kit but I don't have the miter saw. I am planning to buy one in the next few days.
Have other plans for the saw besides this one job? It's not a cheap tool.
Really need a 12" so you can cut it in one pass.
A simple Ryobi 12" will do anything a home owner would need and not break the bank.
I am really glad you asked me this. I will probably not use it again. I was thinking of buying one I saw on amazon for $120 (Hitachi 10") - would this serve the purpose.
It would be OK but may leave some material still attached.
Might want to check out Craigs list for a used one.
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Tearout should take far less time than you are thinking. The stuff is basically just laying on the floor. Unclick it and pile it in the back of a truck ready for disposal. Taking up the trim will probably take longer than the actual floor. As far as cutting the new goes, a simple jigsaw will work if you aren't doing a huge amount of cuts. You'll need it anyway for some of the odd cuts around doorways. Cutting across a board with a jigsaw if pretty easy. Ripping the length is a little more work but can be done fairly easily. You won't be ripping it with a miter saw. If I had to buy one saw to do one laminate job it would be a jigsaw. It won't be as efficient at the crosscuts but it'll do all the cuts you will need with one saw. Blades are cheap too and you will wear out some blades.
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If you use a jig saw cut it from the back side.
Make sure to leave the required gap on the outside edges or the floor will buckle. Should be right on the box or in the directions on line as to what gap is needed.
DO NOT NAIL INTO THE FLOOR ANYWHERE or it will pull apart!
Instead of having to spend all day with a tape measure checking the lenghts to cut the last piece of a run, a simple way is to spin the piece around set on the floor that's aready laid and mark it and cut. When you go to install it it should be an exact fit. UNtil you try it you'll have no idea what I'm taking about.
When first slipping the pieces together I work it up and down to work it into the groove instead of doing it in one motion. If not the piece sometimes wants to lift up. I set it then tap across the face of the piece with a white rubber mallet to make sure there's 0 gaps. (a black mallet leaves black marks)
You are right. I have no idea what you described - but hopefully it will make more sense next weekend when I am in action.

Right now the big decision is - what type of saw. I will read some more tonight and will order one tomorrow.

I am not sure - I will find it tomorrow. If it flooring is just under the 1/4 round that would be nice and save me some time.

I did get the install kit but I don't have the miter saw. I am planning to buy one in the next few days.

That flooring is murder on blades---dull in an instant---

I often use a cutting box and a skill saw---this takes two scraps of plywood and a couple of 1x2s ---make the box with a piece of ply on the bottom about 2 feet long and a couple of inches wider that a plank of the laminate--

Add one piece if 1x2 to the long edge of the ply--use glue and a couple of screws---lay on a plank for spacing---

Add the other piece of 1x2 on the opposite side of the plank----with a bit of space--

then glue and screw the top ply to the box---
using a square--add a 1x2 across the box as a guide for the skill saw--near the right hand end---

Set the blade depth to cut through the top and sides of the box and just skim the bottom---

Make sure there are no screws in the way of the cut line---and cut across the box---there that's a cut box----a larger version is often used by siding guys--with the addition of an adjustable angle guide for gable end cuts.

By the way---a $110 Kobalt sliding 7 1/4" miter saw will cut your flooring very nicely---Lowes---darn handy little saw and it uses regular circular saw blades/
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Now, I have three recommendations - mitre saw, jig saw, and skill saw.

The box design makes sense. I probably need to to go the Lowes and see them actually. Any other thoughts or suggestions - note that while I consider myself quite a handyman, I don't have any experience with flooring or wood work. So, along with cost, I am also looking for something that is reasonably easy.
Do take a look at that little sliding miter saw-----for the money it is one handy tool for home use---

We installed two laminate floors using it----worked nicely for that---and will make cutting the shoe molding easy for you----
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This will save you a lot of steps,as your going to be making a ton of cuts,and it's a rip and miter,also has dust collection.
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Tearout should take far less time than you are thinking. The stuff is basically just laying on the floor. Unclick it and pile it in the back of a truck ready for disposal...
So it appears that the current floor is glued to the floor :( and it is not coming off easily. I took the quarter round off and it did take me pretty long time. A few off these broke and I think I also damaged some of the floor boards bit (but it wouldn't be noticeable once I put the quarter round back).

Now for tear up - are there any specialized tools for taking off glued laminate floors? All I have is a small hammer and it may take me all week to try to take it off.

Also, there is this cover (laminate) on the transition between floor and the tiles near the fire place and it is also glued at least on the tile side. I can't figure out how to remove it without damaging it (not that I plan to use it again).

If this is laminate it should only possibly be glued to each other, not to the floor. It sounds like it might be engineneered hardwood. Pics would help. If its glue down engineneered flooring it should be on luan (1/4" ply).
Well, I couldn't figure out how to attach the pic (may be I don't have privilege to attach one), so here is a link:

hopefully you can see a photo of one piece I removed. It is clearly glued to the sub-floor and there is nothing in between.

Here is another picture of the floor from where I took off that piece:
If you have a circular saw----set the blade to cut the wood but miss the concrete--

Wear goggles and gloves----and start cross cutting the entire floor ---about two feet apart---

then use a flat bar and hammer and start breaking it up----

I have heard of a member that used a saws all with a long blade to cut the glue---
He laid the blade on the concrete and sawed between the concrete and the plank above----

I'm not sure that would be needed---just good to have as a 'plan B' if the stuff is really stuck to the floor---
Posting pictures is possible--but they need to be resized---there are instructions here,someplace----
I don't have a circular saw :( (After getting some feedback, I just bought a hardwood flooring saw kit that allows rip, cross-cut and miter).

Someone on yahoo suggested this method below Let me know what do you guys think of it:

"get an old thick bathroom towel - one you are willing to sacrifice cause it will probably not be usable after this project and a cheap steam iron like for ironing your clothes. you can pick one up for 8 to 12 bucks in most places. fill the iron with water put on highest steam setting. when iron is hot - lay the towel on the flooring and then iron it. working in small sections you will melt the glue under the floor enough that you can get a large putty knife under it and raise it up. the flooring make break off in chunks but that is ok. continue working in small sections until you have it all removed. at this point the towel will be sticky, you will be sticky, the subfloor will be sticky and the iron will be sticky and probably needs to be thrown away. to remove the stickiness/glue residue from the subfoor you will need to purchase a gallon of adhesive remover at your home improvement store and then follow the directions on it."
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