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How To Remove Hardwood Flooring For Reuse

Are you remodeling or building a new home? If so, you might want to remove old hardwood flooring for reuse. How do you go about this? We researched the removal process and show you how to do it in this post.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

To keep the hardwood boards intact when removing them, follow the steps below:

  1. Hammer a pry bar underneath the hardwood board. 
  2. While holding the pry bar, lift the board off the floor. 
  3. Do the same to all the hardwood boards on the floor.
  4. With a pair of nippers, carefully pull the staples from the boards.

Keep reading to learn how to safely remove hardwood flooring for reuse. We'll address how to identify which boards to save and which to do away with. Included are reasons to replace your hardwood flooring. We will also discuss how to prevent damaging your hardwood before and after installation.

How Do You Remove Hardwood Flooring For Reuse?

Handyman is removing old wooden parquet flooring using yellow hammer and scraping tool

Hardwood flooring can be expensive. If you are remodeling the floor of your home, you might consider installing hardwood flooring that has been previously used. It’s possible to retain good boards for reuse by following the steps below:

  1. Place a pry bar underneath one of the hardwood boards.
  2. Take a hammer or mallet and gently hit the pry bar to push most of it underneath the board. 
  3. Lift that particular section of the board using the pry bar. 
  4. Continue lifting in different sections around the board until it comes up without damage.
  5. Use this process to remove all the wooden boards on the floor.
  6. Next, use a pair of pliers or nippers and pull out all the staples from each board.

Tip: If you have slightly damaged wood that you don't want to throw away, you can reuse it for projects like making picture frames or other items that might require hardwood.

Check out this video for a demonstration of the steps above:

Below is another video demonstrating the removal of wooden flooring:

How To Identify The Best Hardwood For Reuse

You may not be able to save all of the hardwood boards for reuse. To retain the best wood, consider the following factors:

Original Color 

Check if the original color is still intact. Depending on the part of the house it was in, the wooden flooring could have faded or become dark if it caught a lot of sunlight. If some boards no longer have their original color, you may not want to reuse them. This is because your floor will not have a uniform color.

Thin Boards

Over-sanding wooden floors can cause them to become thinner than usual. You shouldn't reuse boards if they are less than 1/8 inch thick on the groove side, as they might break during or after installation.

Warped Wood

Wood flooring can warp due to high humidity levels. When wooden floorboards absorb moisture, they may swell and become distorted. These boards may not be good for reuse because they can make the floor uneven.  

Holes

Wooden boards with holes caused by termites or other pests should not be reused. 

Reasons To Reuse Hardwood Flooring 

The following are reasons for reusing hardwood, as opposed to installing a new hardwood floor:

Cheaper Than New Flooring

Hardwood is expensive. Working with previously used hardwood will be cheaper than buying new hardwood flooring. By purchasing affordable tools like a pry bar and hammer, you can remove the boards without damaging them

Check out this pry bar set on Amazon.

Visual Appeal

Many homeowners love the simple beauty that hardwood floors bring to an interior space. The appearance of the floor gets better as time passes.

This could be the reason you prefer to buy reused wood. Compared to fresh hardwood, it's not hard to give the wood a nice finish.   

Durability

Hardwood flooring is durable and can remain in good condition for many years. Furthermore, it's easy to clean and maintain. To get rid of dust and dirt, simply sweep, vacuum, or use a damp mop. You can use a pH-neutral cleanser to remove stains and polish the floor to restore its shine.  

You can find this wooden floor polish on Amazon.

When Should You Replace Your Hardwood Flooring?

Repairman restoring old parquet hardwood floor

You may want to remodel your home and redo your flooring. To do this, you might have to remove the current wooden floorboards and replace them with new ones or reuse the ones you already have.

With that in mind, the following are signs that it's time to replace your hardwood floor:

Signs that it's time to replace your hardwood floor, How To Remove Hardwood Flooring For Reuse

Thinning Floorboards

Over time, you may have sanded the floors repeatedly to make them look as good as new. However, sanding can make floorboards so thin to that you can't sand them again. When you've reached this point, it's time to replace your floor. 

Gaps Between Floorboards

Because wood absorbs moisture, hardwood floorboards may bend, change shape, and shift. This can creates gaps in between the boards, making them unstable when you walk on them. If you gauge the situation and conclude that refinishing the boards won't help, you might need to replace the boards. 

Structural Damage

Wooden flooring that is damaged underneath can't be refinished. As a result, removing and installing new or used hardwood may be the solution. 

How To Protect Your Hardwood Floor During Installation

It’s important to avoid mistakes while installing hardwood flooring. The following methods can be helpful for protecting your floor during installation:

Check The Sub-Floor 

When installing a hardwood floor, you should make sure the subfloor is flat and dry. You can use a moisture meter like the one shown below to check the moisture levels.

Check out this moisture meter on Amazon.

The moisture content for a wooden sub-floor should be 16% and between 3.5 to 4.5% for a concrete sub-floor. If the sub-floor does not meet these standards, over time, it could start wobbling, warping, and squeaking.  

Leave Room For Expansion

Due to temperature changes, it is important to leave room for the hardwood to expand at the edges of the room. If the wood does not have enough room to expand and contract, it could rise, crack, and eventually break. 

How To Maintain Your Hardwood Floor After Installation

You love the aesthetic appeal hardwood floor brings to your home. To maintain it for years to come, follow the tips below.

Prevent Scratches

Anti-skid felt pad cover install on wooden furniture leg

To avoid scratching your wooden floor, attach anti-scratch pads under heavy pieces of furniture and don't drag heavy objects across the floor. Also, you should try not to walk on the floor with shoes that have hard soles or sharp heels. 

Check out these anti-scratch pads on Amazon.

It may be a good idea to replace chairs that have rollers on them. If this is not possible, place a mat underneath the chairs. 

Avoid Liquid Spills 

Mop wiping wet floor

It's close to impossible to prevent liquids from spilling on the floor. But as soon as there is a spill, wipe it up. Also, don’t place wet clothes on the floor or walk across the floor in wet shoes. Leave them outside as you enter the house.   

Placing mats at the door entrance to collect as much water as possible will help your hardwood floors in the long run. 

In Closing

At some point, you may need to replace the hardwood floor in one or more rooms of your home. The floor may be worn out or damaged, or you may simply want it to look newer.

Reusing hardwood floorboards can be cost-effective. To reuse flooring from another room, you will need to carefully remove the boards without damaging them, save the good ones, and do away with the bad ones.

We covered several reasons for reusing hardwood flooring instead of installing a new floor and provided helpful tips to prevent damaging the hardwood during and after installation.

If you found this post helpful, check out our previous articles on hardwood flooring:

Should Hardwood Floors Change Direction?

How To Install Hardwood Flooring On Stairs With Nosing