How to Remove Vinyl Flooring

Lead Image
  • 4-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-120
What You'll Need
Flathead screwdriver
Pry bar or claw head hammer
Utility knife or floor knife
Heat gun or hair dryer
Vacuum or shop vac

There are many reasons to choose vinyl flooring. Although vinyl floors can be long lasting and hardy, over time they can tear and become damaged. Additionally, homeowners may occasionally want to replace old flooring because it is out-of-date and unsightly or it becomes difficult to maintain a clean floor.

Regardless of the reasons for removal, pulling up vinyl flooring takes time and patience to be done correctly. When removing the flooring, be careful not to damage the subfloor underneath, since it will be necessary to repair any damage before laying down new flooring in most cases.

Step 1 - Clear Room of Furnishings/Appliances

Remove all of the furniture in the room. Also remove any appliances that are placed over the vinyl flooring.

Step 2 - Remove Trim

tile pattern brick colored vinyl flooring

Remove any trim along the floor, including baseboards. If you plan on salvaging the trim to use again, carefully use a flathead screwdriver to pry the baseboards and trim away from the wall in sections. Remove any nails and set the trim aside.

Step 3 - Remove Tacks, Nails, or Staples

Check along the edge of the vinyl to determine if it was tacked, nailed, or stapled down along the edges. If you discover nails, tacks, or staples, carefully pry them out of the vinyl with the end of a small pry bar or claw head hammer. You will need to remove tacks, nails, or staples from the entire edge of the vinyl before pulling it up further. Safely discard these items so others do not step on them.

Usually vinyl is also glued in place with adhesive.

Step 4 - Begin Pulling up Vinyl

Check along the corners of the vinyl and locate a place where the vinyl is not glued down. Use a utility or floor knife and cut strips out of the flooring that are about 12 inches wide.

Step 5 - Scrape Adhesive

Use the strips to slowly begin to pull up the vinyl. With a scraper, pull up any areas that are especially difficult because of glue or adhesive.

Step 6 - Soften Stubborn Adhesive

For areas that are especially stubborn, spray a mixture of soap and water on the adhesive. Allow several minutes for this to be absorbed and then use the scraper to pull the vinyl away from the adhesive. As you progress, carefully remove as much glue and adhesive as possible.

Step 7 - Clean Floor

subflooring in a room

Once the majority of the vinyl is removed, use the shop vac to remove any remaining small pieces of vinyl.

Step 8 - Further Soften Stubborn Remaining Adhesive

Use the heat from a heat gun or hair dryer to soften and loosen any adhesive that remains on the floor. Working slowly, heat small sections of the floor and scrape off the glue and adhesive, being careful not to damage the subfloor below.

Step 9 - Re-vacuum Floor

Once all of the vinyl and adhesive has been removed, vacuum the floor again. Carefully examine the subfloor to detect any damage that may have occurred while removing the vinyl flooring or has already existed prior to removal. Any subflooring that has suffered damage will need to be repaired or replaced before new flooring can replace your old vinyl.