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Removing Old Vinyl Flooring and Underlayment - Steps and Tips

In some cases, a new floor covering can be installed directly over your old sheet vinyl. In those situations where it may need to be removed the following procedure may help you get it done in a timely and safe manner.

First, if you have a floor that is more than about 20 years old, you may want to have it tested for asbestos. If these fibers become airborne, they can be harmful to your health. If there is asbestos present you will need to hire a professional removal company. If the flooring is free from asbestos you can begin the removal.

Sheet vinyl flooring is typically installed over an additional layer of smooth ¼" plywood underlayment. This plywood is stapled to the original subfloor and the joints are filled to give a nice smooth surface to attach the vinyl. It is easiest way to handle this; is to remove the vinyl and underlayment together.

Check Out This Easy-To-Follow Video on "How to Remove Vinyl Floor Tiles" Below:

You should feel comfortable using a power skill saw before you attempt the removal.

The other tools you will need are:


Begin by laying out a grid on the floor of approximately 2'x 2'. This should give you pieces that you can easily handle. Set the depth of the skill saw so that it will cut through the vinyl and ¼" plywood but not through the subfloor.

Starting from one side of the room, plunge the saw into the flooring along the first gridline and continue cutting until you reach the wall. Be careful to keep a fairly straight line to keep the saw from kicking back.

Repeat the process until the floor is cut into 2'x 2' sections. At this point you may need to use your saws-all to finish the cuts to the wall as well as along the edges of the cabinets if there are any.

Once the floor is loose from the walls, begin prying up the sections using both the scraper and pry bar. In large open spaces, the scraper will work great. In tighter areas you may need to use the pry bar and hammer.

You will notice that some of the staples used to attach the plywood will come out with the sections while the rest of them will remain in the floor probably with a splinter of wood underneath them. This will be addressed in the next step.

Now that all the vinyl and underlayment is removed you can begin to remove the remaining staples. You may be able to use the pry bar and scrape them from the subfloor but the tougher ones will require you to use pliers to pull them out.

Work from one side of the room to the other as to not miss any. When you are through, lightly slide the scraper along the floor to be sure you have all the staples removed. Now just sweep up the floor and you should be ready to install your new floor.


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