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How to Remove Vinyl or Linoleum Flooring

Get rid of your old flooring to modernize your space from the ground up.

By Katina Hazimihalis | Last Updated:09/09/2022
Man with tool belt and gloves pulling up old linoleum floor.

Learn the Best Way to Remove Vinyl Flooring Yourself

Fresh flooring can transform a room—but it doesn’t come cheap. If you’re looking to save money on your upcoming remodel, removing your worn-out vinyl or linoleum yourself is a great way to keep more money in your budget. This job requires patience and a good bit of elbow grease, but as long as you’re up for the physical labor, ripping out old floors is a project the average homeowner can accomplish in a weekend.

The process for removing both materials is about the same, so follow the steps below to learn how to remove vinyl or linoleum the DIY way.

Flooring Removal FAQs

How do you remove vinyl flooring adhesive?

Does my vinyl flooring have asbestos?

What's the cost to remove laminate flooring?

How hard is it to remove laminate flooring?

How to Remove Vinyl or Linoleum Flooring in 5 Easy Steps

The most time-consuming aspect is removing the adhesive left behind when vinyl and linoleum are installed over a wood subfloor — which we'll cover in step 4. The rest of the job is pretty straightforward. Ready to get to work?

Step 1: Prepare to Remove Flooring

Before we get to the main event, there are a couple of prep steps you’ll need to complete. You probably already have most of these tools on hand, but anything you’re missing can be bought or rented pretty inexpensively from your nearest home improvement store.

Tools to Remove Linoleum or Vinyl Floor

Tools

/////Safety Gear

Chisel

Work gloves

Pliers

Long pants

Flat pry bar

Sturdy shoes

Utility knife

Knee pads

Putty knife

Face mask

Floor scraper*

*If necessary

You may want to consider renting a 10 yard dumpster for this project. Sheets of linoleum are too heavy to bag up with your regular trash, especially if you're working on a large room. And if you're remodeling other areas of your kitchen, you'll need a convenient way to get rid of the bulky items like cabinets and countertops that your trash service won't take at the curb.

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Step 2: Remove Baseboards

Before you can pull up the flooring, remove all the baseboards in your room. Be sure to mark the back of each piece with its location if you plan to reinstall them once your new floor is laid out.

  • Wiggle your pry bar or chisel between the baseboard and the wall starting in a corner. If desired, slide a piece of wood or cardboard behind your tool to avoid scratching the wall.
  • Pry with gentle, steady pressure until the board separates from the wall.
  • Remove any nails with your pliers once you can reach them.
  • Store baseboards away if you plan on reusing them.
Removed baseboards before floor removal project.
Light Bulb Icon.

Safety Tip

If your floor was laid before the 1980s, the adhesive may contain asbestos. To test yours, put on gloves and cut away a small piece, wetting it and the underlying adhesive with water as you pull it up. Bag it and take it to an asbestos abatement company.

DIYer pulling away center part of old linoleum floor.

Step 3: Cut Out the Center of the Flooring

In most cases, vinyl and linoleum are only glued down along the perimeter of the room. This makes the majority of your removal pretty simple.

  • Measure 10 inches from the wall and cut through the vinyl or linoleum with your utility knife, moving parallel to the wall around the perimeter of the room.
  • Use your utility knife to slice this cut-away center into strips.
  • Keep strips less than 18 inches wide and a few feet long to prevent them from getting too heavy and unwieldy to carry out of the room.
  • Throw the strips of flooring into your dumpster as you go.
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Step 4: Tear Up Edge Flooring

Now it’s time to remove the portion of your vinyl or linoleum that was glued down. You’ll probably need to put your back into it, so work at a comfortable pace and take breaks whenever you need.

  • Work your pry bar along a section of the flooring to begin loosening the edge.
  • Use your chisel or putty knife to chip away more adhesive once you’ve pried enough away to get under the edge.
  • When there is enough loose for you to get a grip on it, pull back firmly until you can’t peel away anymore.
  • Cut off the loose strip with your utility knife and move it out of your work area. Load the old pieces of flooring into the dumpster.
  • Repeat these steps until you’ve removed all the remaining flooring.
DIYer rolling up edge of linoleum floor.
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Keep in Mind

If the adhesive is too hard to chip away with a chisel or putty knife, fire up your heat gun. Apply it to the adhesive until it softens enough for you to peel back the flooring or continue chipping.

Step 5: Scrape Away the Remaining Adhesive

Once the flooring is gone, you’ll need to get rid of the leftover adhesive. If you don’t remove the linoleum glue from the underlying plywood, it will be difficult to properly install your new floor—you can even void its warranty. This will probably be the most time-consuming part of the project, so give yourself plenty of leeway for breaks.

Worker scraping linoleum or vinyl adhesive glue remaining beneath the old floor.

How to Remove Linoleum or Vinyl Flooring Glue

  • Turn the heat gun on low and allow it to warm up. You can raise the setting later if necessary.
  • Starting at one corner of the room, apply the heat gun to a section of adhesive until it softens.
  • Scrape the softened adhesive away with your putty knife.
  • Repeat these steps until you’ve removed the glue from the entire room.

Time for Your Brand New Floor!

Now that you’ve removed your uninspiring vinyl or linoleum, you’re one step closer to a transformed floor. Still on the fence about what to replace the old stuff with? Check out our guide to choosing the best flooring for your family.

Removing the old linoleum as part of a bigger kitchen remodel? Keep our complete kitchen demo guide on hand for your next project.

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