Removing Laminate Flooring

Can You Take Up Laminate Flooring and Reinstall It?

Removing tongue and groove laminate flooring, while not advisable, is something that can be done when circumstances require it.

There are numerous reasons that you may decide to do this, including; repairing damp, accessing underfloor wiring, accessing piping, or simply just repairing parts of the laminate flooring itself.

Work slowly and with a careful hand
You can reuse tongue and groove laminate flooring, but not laminate fitted with glue. Tongue and groove laminate floors can be easily disconnected and reconnected due to no adhesive having been used.

If you are looking to re-install a laminate floor that you plan to take up, you will need to work slowly, and with a careful hand. Any damage to the flooring may result in it being unable to be reused, and replacement planks will need to be acquired.

How to Take Up Laminate Flooring That Is to Be Reused

For the sake of this article, I will assume that the laminate is to be reused in its current space and not elsewhere (though both are possible). It will be much easier to install in a space where it has been before.

You will want to either mark the bottom of the boards as they are removed or stack them in such a way that order is apparent. You will then know exactly which board comes next when it comes time to reinstall the flooring.

Remove Skirting Boards & Transition Strips

Once you have emptied the room of all furniture, you will want to lift any beading and transition strips used within the doorways. You will want to also remove the skirting boards, unless these were not removed during the original installation, in which case they can remain.

Start From Where the Original Installation Ended

Unless you are looking to just replace a single plank at the starting point (where the tongue meets the wall) it is advisable to start where the original installation ended, removing the last planks installed first (where the groove meets the wall) – though this board will likely have been cut to size, so the groove may not be visible.

The first row will be the hardest then it should get easier as you move up the rows.

Tools & Technique

To separate the laminate planks easily (now this is the key) and so as to cause the minimum of damage to the planks or the click-lock-mechanisms you will need to slide the planks sideways towards the wall so that the laminate plank disengages from the plank to the left of it.

This is not easily done without something that will grip the planks well. This is why we use a Rubber-faced grouting float.

Don’t know what a rubber-faced grouting float is?

Here’s a link to one on Amazon.

The rubber will grip the plank when you add pressure to it, allowing you to push the board towards the wall so it disengages from the attached plank (to its left).

Once you have disengaged the plank you can now lift the plank to a 45-degree angle and lift it out of the click-lock mechanism. Be careful not to damage the click-lock mechanism.

Your have now removed the plank, and you can move onto the next plank (the plank to its left, or end of the previous row – depending on which is next to be removed)

Repeat the process until either all the planks have been removed, or until you have reached the point of repair.

Complete whatever task it is you need to do and reinstall your laminate flooring without the hassle of cutting your laminate planks to size.

Final Thoughts

Some boards will be difficult to “slide”, this is part and parcel of this sort of job. Try not to use any sharp tools as this will almost certainly damage the planks and make reinstalling them more difficult.

Always make sure you know the exact board to reinstall where, whether this is marking the underside with a number or stacking them in a way that it is obvious – not doing this will mean you have to complete a massive jigsaw puzzle to complete your reinstallation.

The rubber float (along with the pressure used) may leave a black mark on some of your boards. This should be easily cleaned.

Once this happens, attempt to clean the board and make sure it removes easily before continuing with the rest of your laminate removal.

Once your floor has been removed, refer to our guide on installing laminate flooring to help you with the reinstall.