Project Guide

How to Remove Vinyl Flooring

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Up close look at asbestos in vinyl flooring.

Prior to the 1980s, asbestos vinyl sheet flooring was very popular in homes. If you are removing the original vinyl floor from a home prior to 1980, you will need to locate a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to test your floor. Asbestos removal is a hazardous process best undertaken only by a qualified professional. If you suspect your vinyl floor has asbestos, but do not want to remove it, it is possible to lay a new floor over the old floor as long as the vinyl is not damaged and will not be disturbed in any way that will release asbestos fibers. Consult with a professional before you start any project that could disturb asbestos.

Clear the Area
A couple moving a sofa.

When learning how to remove vinyl flooring, the first step is emptying the room. Take all furniture out of the room to clear the work area.

Remove Baseboards
A person removing baseboards.

Baseboards generally cover the edges of flooring, so they will need to be removed before you remove vinyl flooring. Here's how to remove the baseboards:

  • To protect your walls, place the wood block a few inches above the baseboard.
  • Place the wider end of the prybar where the trim and wall meet. 
  • With a rubber mallet, swiftly tap the top of the pry bar to force it under the trim. 
  • Gently pry the trim away little by little. Yanking it back quickly may break the trim. 
  • If you plan to reuse the trim, mark the back of the trim with its location for easier installation later. 
Start in the Middle
A person cutting vinyl flooring.

Typically, vinyl flooring is perimeter installed, meaning there's no glue or adhesive in the middle of the floor. 

  • Use the utility knife to cut straight down the middle of your vinyl floor.
  • Next, move about 12 inches to the right or left and cut a strip parallel to the first. Cutting in narrow strips makes the task more manageable.
  • Roll the vinyl as you make your way down the length of the strip.
  • Once it's cut, gently lift the strip of vinyl until you encounter resistance from the glue near the perimeter.
  • Use a 5-in-1 scraper to loosen the vinyl. If it doesn't come off, you will need to use the prybar and hammer to chip at the hardened adhesive.
  • For vinyl plank flooring or vinyl tile flooring, pry up a corner of one of the tiles with a putty knife. If it comes up far enough, slip the putty knife underneath it and pry the tile or plank completely off. 
Remove Glued Sections
A person sanding subfloor.

Once you get all the glued down sections removed, it's time to deal with the glued perimeter. 

  • Use the flat end of the pry bar to chip away at the glue underneath the vinyl. 
  • Once you've removed as much as you can with the prybar, use the 5-in-1 tool or any floor scraper tool to scrape off the rest of the adhesive.

Removing Adhesive from the Subfloor
A push broom sliding across a concrete floor.
  • If there is still adhesive on the subfloor, use warm water and soap to soak the glue, then wipe away the excess.
  • If water and soap won't remove the remaining glue, hold a heat gun over the adhesive long enough to soften the glue and scrape it away.
How to Remove Vinyl flooring from Concrete
A person removing vinyl flooring.

Removing vinyl from concrete is similar to removing it from subfloor. However, getting the adhesive off the concrete may prove to be more difficult. Start by scraping the glue with a pry bar or scraper. If that doesn't get the glue off, you will need to use a commercial adhesive stripper to soften and remove the glue.

Clean Up
A person vacuuming a floor.
  • Once all the vinyl floor is removed, use a broom or wet/dry vacuum to pick up all the debris is the room.
  • Some areas offer vinyl recycling. Check with your local recycling center to see if they accept used vinyl flooring.

Removing vinyl flooring from your home is great first-time DIY project for homeowners. Visit your local The Home Depot for all the supplies you will need to remove vinyl flooring and for all the latest styles in laminate, wood and other flooring for your home.