How to Remove Old Linoleum from Wood Floors

Dec 18, 2023

If you have an older home built before the 1990s, chances are there is a wood floor hiding underneath that outdated linoleum in your kitchen or bathroom. Removing the aging linoleum reveals beautiful wood that can be refinished and restored to its original glory.

In this guide, we will walk you through the entire process of how to get rid of that old linoleum floor yourself to expose the real wood underneath. While it can be a messy and labor-intensive process, it saves you thousands over replacing the floor entirely.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this DIY linoleum removal guide:

  • What tools are needed to remove old linoleum?
  • Step-by-step instructions for pulling up linoleum
  • How to prep the newly exposed wood for refinishing
  • What to do if there are damaged wood boards
  • When to call for professional floor sanding services

Grab your pry bar and gloves! Let’s dig in to the nitty gritty of DIY linoleum tile removal and restoration.

Tools Needed for Removing Old Linoleum Floors

First and foremost, you need the right tools for prying up stubborn, ancient linoleum glued to wood. Having the right equipment makes the difference between this being an easy weekend update versus a months-long renovation nightmare.

Here are the essential tools we recommend having on hand before tackling linoleum tile removal in any room:

Pry/Wonder bar – A sturdy pry bar with a curved end is absolutely essential for wedging under linoleum and pulling it off the subfloor. We recommend the Wonder Bar tool for best results.

  1. Floor scraper – Used in tandem with the pry bar for areas where the linoleum won’t budge easily. A sharp 4” razor scraper does the trick.
  2. Gloves – Wear thick work gloves to protect your hands from razor-sharp old linoleum edges and splinters during demo.
  3. Safety goggles & mask – For eye protection and avoiding inhaling dust/debris.
  4. Hammer – For tapping wood wedges into areas not lifting with the pry bar alone.
  5. Wood/plastic wedges – Helps provide extra leverage when prying up stubborn linoleum pieces.
  6. Trash bags – For removing and disposing of all the linoleum debris.
  7. Shop vacuum – For ongoing cleaning up of dust, dirt and linoleum shards during the process.

Materials & Tools

While it is possible to rip up old sheet flooring using just a hammer and bolster, having the right pry tools makes the job much less grueling. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself later for investing in a quality pry bar!

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Remove Old Linoleum Floors in 6 Steps

With the right tools in hand, you’re ready to begin tackling that outdated linoleum floor removal. Just follow these key steps:

Step #1: Prepare the Room

Clear all furniture and items from the room. Removing linoleum is a messy job, so make sure there’s nothing left to protect. Give the floor a good sweep beforehand as well.

Step #2: Start Prying in a Corner

Wedge the curved end of the pry bar under the linoleum corner and gently start lifting upward. Keep pressure steady as you slide the wonder bar to lift more surface area up. Use a second pry bar, floor scraper or wood wedges if needed in stubborn areas. Work slowly around the perimeter before moving inward to prevent tearing.

Step #3: Keep Prying up Pieces

Continue running the pry bar just under the linoleum surface to lift pieces up. Grab and roll pieces immediately to avoid re-adhering. Use the floor scraper to chip up glue remnants left stuck to the wood.

Step #4: Clean Up Floor

Sweep and vacuum up all debris as you work. This keeps the air clearer to work in and avoids slipping hazards from tile shards. Inspect the newly revealed wood subfloor for any protruding nails, holes or damage in need of patching prior to refinishing.

Step #5: Remove Adhesive Residue

There will inevitably be some stubborn linoleum glue left stuck to the wood no matter how careful your pry work is. Use a floor adhesive remover formulated for wood to safely dissolve and lift any lingering sticky spots, scraper residue and linoleum backing.

Step #6: Sand Away Remaining Glue

For any glue residue still visible after using adhesive remover, utilize a floor sander or multi-tool with coarse grit sandpaper to smooth the wood surface. Wipe with mineral spirits afterwards to prep the floor for refinishing and resealing.

And voila! That’s all it takes to breathe new life into a wood floor hidden beneath outdated linoleum for decades.

What NOT to Do When Removing Old Linoleum Floors Yourself

While prying up ancient sheet flooring takes patience and elbow grease, beware of any DIY shortcuts that could damage the integrity of the hardwood underneath:

✘ Don’t use harsh chemical paint strippers not formulated for wood floors. This can lead to discoloration or wood damage.

✘ Never sand stubborn linoleum glue deposits stuck to wood using overly coarse 60+ grit sandpaper. Doing so risks over-sanding and uneven spots.

✘ Avoid using excessive force during prying to prevent denting or splintering delicate tongue-and-groove hardwood planks underneath.

✘ Don’t leave piles of pulled up linoleum debris sitting on the wood floor itself. This can lead to scratching of the surface.

Safety is also paramount when taking on a DIY project like old linoleum floor removal. Wear gloves, goggles and a mask at all times. Work carefully when prying and scraping to avoid self-injury or unintentionally damaging utility lines underneath subfloor.

Linoleum Floors

What to Expect After Linoleum Removal – Wood Floor Condition & Next Steps

Here’s the range of what you can expect to find underneath decades-old resilient sheet flooring in terms of wood condition and next steps for restoration:

Ideally, a pristine tongue-and-groove wood floor is revealed underneath! If this is the case in your linoleum removal project, the floor likely just needs a good overall sanding/refinishing to prep for recoating.

More commonly though, there is at least some level of surface glue residue, splintering, knicks and dents left behind on the newly exposed wood after the linoleum demo. This requires remedial prep sanding and patching first prior to refinishing.

In worst case scenarios, moisture damage, rotting boards, or sections warped so badly they cannot be revived are uncovered. This leads to partial or complete wood floor replacement needs.

As UK floor sanding professionals specializing in hardwood restoration for 20+ years, we are experts at rehabbing all conditions of wood floors hidden under aging linoleum. Get in touch for an onsite evaluation if you’re concerned about potential costs and effort involved to restore underlying damage once your DIY lino removal wrap ups.

Why Hiring Professional Floor Refinishing Services is the Gold Standard After Linoleum Removal

While removing old linoleum yourself using the steps above saves on installation labor fees, keep in mind it is only half the battle. An even bigger factor in your floor restoration budget is the refinishing process AFTER lino removal to make that original wood underneath shine again.

Why Hiring Professional Floor Refinishing

That’s where utilizing our professional floor sanding and refinishing services comes out miles ahead for quality results with key advantages:

✔ Precise Drum Sanding: Our commercial drum sanders lightly abrade floors to reveal smooth wood minus risk of over-sanding damage using DIY orbitals.

✔ Stain Coloration: We expertly stain uncovered wood to any custom shade desired to match your décor.

✔ Durable Finishes: Professional-grade polyurethanes, oils and lacs provide a protective wear layer for decades over amateur DIY sealants.

✔ Dustless Sanding Systems: Our dust extraction equipment keeps air clean for faster project completion without mess.

✔ Fully Insured: All our floor sanders are licensed, bonded and insured for your protection.

While DIY removal of old linoleum tiles or sheet vinyl is very feasible, investing in expert refinishing services after the fact is what truly allows your uncovered wood floor to shine for years rather than just looking old and worn still.

Reach out today to request a quote from our floor sanding company serving customers across the UK when you’re ready to refinish that linoleum-free wood into a showpiece!