making your house a home

making your house a home

How to Salvage Hardwood Flooring for Reuse

Alide Oortwijn

Old hardwood flooring adds its own character and history to a home you can't find in new engineered or bamboo wood flooring. When a friend or neighbor will be tearing out their home's old hardwood flooring, you can remove it yourself to salvage it and have it installed in your own home. Here are some tips to help you successfully remove old hardwood flooring for reuse in your own home.

Determine the Flooring's Usability

Just because hardwood flooring is going to be torn out and replaced with other flooring does not mean it is no good. Hardwood flooring may have been covered with carpeting for the past fifty years and hardly have any wear to its thickness. On the other hand, you should check the hardwood flooring to make sure it has not been refinished so many times over its life that it does not have enough thickness to sand down and refinish it again. 

When you see the edges of old hardwood floor boards crumbling and the tongue and grooves falling apart, you know the flooring is not salvageable. According to a flooring expert, if 30 percent of a floor is showing this kind of damage now, when you sand it down for refinishing approximately 50 to 60 percent of the floor will be in this condition. 

Then, you should also consider the square footage amount of wood flooring you will need to cover the square footage of floor in your home. As long as none of the old hardwood is damaged during removal, you can expect at most that amount for coverage in your home. For example, if you are removing 500 square feet of hardwood flooring to place in your home, you can expect for it to cover a little less than 500 square feet in your home. This difference accounts for any pieces you have to cut down to fit the floor in your home or any pieces that become damaged during the removal. Make sure you are pulling out a larger-sized area of hardwood flooring than you need for your home's project so you have enough.

Begin at the End of the Original Installation

First, remove any floor molding using a pry bar or renovator bar so you can get to the hardwood flooring. Next, determine which end of the flooring was originally installed last. The reason for this is because the right way to remove a hardwood floor is to take it apart the opposite way it was put in, beginning with the last board installed. You will know you are working on the right end of the room if the board's tongues are pointing toward the wall.

To help determine this, pull up a flooring vent to get a look at the profile of one of the hardwood floor boards to see which way the tongues are pointing. Or look for nail holes in the face of the floor boards near the wall as they will be inserted in the groove end of the boards.

Pry Up the Flooring with Patience

When you figure out which side of the room to start with, you will need to use a chisel and mallet to break apart the first floorboard to remove the rest of the flooring. Carefully crack in half one of the boards nearest to the wall and remove it from the floor. 

The last two to three boards installed in the room will be face nailed. This means the nails securing the boards will be nailed through the top of the floor boards, instead of blind nailed through the side of the board, through the tongue in groove. Keep this in mind as you pry up the boards because you will want to locate each nail so you can position your tool under the nail. Doing this will prevent the boards from cracking as you pry them up. 

Use a tool called a cat's paw restorer to help you remove the boards next to the wall. This tool is smaller than a pry bar and will give you better maneuverability. Pry up the board at each nail by 1/4-inch at a time and continue down the length of the board, repeating this at each nail. Then, pry up each nail an additional 1/4-inch on your next pass. By prying up each nail too much at one time, you run the risk of damaging the board or the tongue. Continue this process with the remaining floor boards.

Next, pull out any nails from each hardwood flooring plank. Be careful not to damage the face of the wood or the tongue and groove. Salvaging an old hardwood flooring takes time and patience, so don't rush your work. Soon you will have your hardwood floor boards to install in your home. For more information or assistance, visit resources like


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About Me
making your house a home

The place we call home should be just that - a home. You should feel nothing but comfort and peace when you are at home. The layout and the way that you decorate your home will have a significant impact on the level of comfort you experience. This blog will provide you with several tips that will help you create the most comfortable and inviting place to call home. By the time you reach the conclusion, you will have ideas swirling through your mind of what you will do to your home next to improve how it looks and feels.