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How to remove and replace vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is an attractive and cost-effective flooring solution that is simple to install and maintain. However, you may need to remove and replace it at some point. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of removing and replacing vinyl flooring so you may save money on hiring a professional.

4 min read

13th Jun 23

remove and replace luxury vinyl flooring

Before removing vinyl flooring

Before you start, you should know which type of vinyl or luxury vinyl you may have. It doesn’t matter if you have sheet, plank or tile; what matters is the initial installation type. From glue down, click or locking, or loose lay, these affect how you remove it.

Always remember, if you aren’t sure on any of the following steps or need advice, do reach out to a professional LVT floor fitter or contact our team for help and information.

  • Glue down LVT, also known as dry-back, involves applying adhesive to the surface of the floor, and the tiles or planks then being laid into the adhesive.
  • Click or locking systems involve laying the tiles/ planks on the floor, and then using the built-in clicking mechanism to lock them together along their edges.
  • Loose lay is where no mechanism other than the weight of the flooring and friction caused by the backing of the planks is used to keep the floor in place, although sometimes a ‘tackifier’ type of adhesive may also be used to add extra security, especially around the edges of the room.

Once you know the method you used to install your floor, you can begin to remove and replace your vinyl.

How to remove glue down vinyl

Glue down vinyl planks, such as our LVT flooring are a durable and long long-lasting floor type. When it comes to removal, the best method will depend on some important factors including whether you’re replacing a single tile or the whole floor. If you have any concerns or difficulties, be sure to contact a professional vinyl flooring fitter for help. However, following these steps, removing LVT yourself should be straightforward:

Tools you need:

  • A utility knife or sharp cutting knife
  • Warm water
  • Floor scraper or scraper blade
  • Heat gun or adhesive remover

How to remove glue down vinyl:

  1. Repair or removal?: If you are looking to uplift and replace a single tile, perhaps if it has become damaged, then this will be a more careful procedure compared to uplifting a whole floor. Note also that newly laid tiles will be easier to prise up, especially in the first few days before the adhesive has fully cured. Older floors are likely to require more force due to the presence of dried permanent adhesive.
  2. Removing a single tile/ plank: Care will need to be taken not to damage adjacent tiles or the subfloor beneath the tile. Firstly, carefully score around the tile to separate it from surrounding tiles and then cut into the centre of the tile before peeling back segments towards the edge of the tile. Using a heat gun can help to gently warm the tile and loosen the adhesive grip.
  3. Cut the vinyl: If you’re removing the whole floor and the planks or tiles aren’t coming up, you can use a sharp cutting knife, such as a utility or box cutter, to cut the floor. You need to do this to access beneath the tile. Make several slits in the vinyl all over the floor and use a scraper to lift the tiles.
  4. Warm it up: If tiles are stuck firmly then a heat gun can be used to gently heat up the tiles which will loosen the adhesive underneath. Alternatively, using an adhesive remover can also be effective.
  5. Scrape and remove: You can try pulling up each vinyl tile, but scraping and removing each tile is a lot easier, especially over bigger areas. Scrape each tile up and try to scrape up any remaining adhesive off the floor. In bigger rooms, using a larger industrial scraper will make the removal of tiles an easier and quicker process.
  6. Remove any remaining adhesive: Once you remove all your vinyl, you will most likely have some glue still on your floor. You can use warm water and soap, a heat gun (with care), or an adhesive remover to soften it, then scrape it up with your scraper. After that, you may need to wipe your floor down with a cloth to remove any extra residue.

installing lvt flooring

How To remove click vinyl

Although adhesive is not usually used in this type of vinyl flooring, it can still be a difficult process to safely remove a tile or plank, especially if it is towards the centre of the room. Although it can be tempting to forcibly remove it from the centre, this can permanently damage the locking mechanism and the tile or plank itself. It will usually be necessary to start by removing from the edge of the room at the point where the original installation finished and then working towards the centre.

Tools you need:

  • A crowbar, hand scraper or chisel
  • Water and soap or floor cleaner

Steps to remove click LVT:

  • Remove edge trim: Use the tip of a hand scraper to go behind a piece of trim and gently pry it outwards. You should do this around the perimeter of the room; you can tap on the end of the chisel gently to manoeuvre it into a place behind a trim piece.
  • Check walls and floors: Make sure you check your walls to make sure the installation is parallel to locate the wall where the installation ended. You can check the long edges of the click vinyl material to know this. Knowing this will be useful as the last row will have the channelling used to lock two pieces together, visible once the trim is removed.
  • Unlock your vinyl: Start in the corner where the installation was finished, but this isn’t always necessary if you’re not planning to re-use the flooring. Use your fingers or the crowbar to pry the corner piece of the click vinyl up and away from the subfloor. You should pry upwards slowly and push the piece away from the other pieces and towards the wall. Your planks should snap apart, but if not, you can jiggle it to break free and unlock it from the other pieces.
  • Flip each row: If you work your way down the entire length of your vinyl to the last row, you can separate each row from the rest of the floor using the crowbar. Once you do this, you can flip each row upside down and easily separate each individual plank. You can repeat this process of detaching each row from the floor before disassembling each piece until you are finished.
  • Clean your floor: Because you didn’t have any adhesive, there won’t be any residue left, but there might be some underlying dust or dirt, so make sure to clean your floor with soap and water or cleaner using a mop.

How to clean luxury vinyl flooring

Read full guide
floorspa lvt cleaning products

How to remove loose lay vinyl

Loose lay is usually an easier vinyl floor to install and remove, which is why it is so suitable as a temporary flooring solution that doesn’t need to be watertight. Although you can use glue to glue down the planks on the edges of the room to serve as a firm foundation, it isn’t always necessary. If it has been used, however, removing your loose lay vinyl flooring will be a lengthier process.

Tools you need:

  • Heat gun or adhesive remover (if glue was used during installation)
  • A crowbar or chisel
  • Water and soap or floor cleaner

Due to this floor using friction between each plank to seal the floor, you can easily move tiles or replace one or the whole floor. Whether you are removing vinyl to replace it with a different type or the same, here’s how to remove loose lay LVT:

  1. Remove any adhesive: If you have used glue to glue down the corners so the floor doesn’t lift or move, you may need to gently use a heat gun to soften it, being careful not to damage the floor if you’re planning to re-use it. Either apply heat on the top of the floor you know has been glued down, or use a lightweight crowbar to lift the edge and then apply heat.
  2. Lift each plank: If no adhesive has been used, then you can easily lift your floor, piece by piece. You can do this using your hands, or if you need more strength due to the friction keeping them down, use a crowbar or chisel.
  3. Clean your floor: If you are planning to re-use the floor, then it is always advisable to give it clean before uplifting it. If glue has been used you can use adhesive remover and a floor scraper to remove any remaining residue. Otherwise, it’s still a good idea to use soap and water and a mop to clean your floor before installing a new floor.

lvt floor laying and installation tips

Replacing vinyl flooring

Now that you’ve removed your luxury vinyl flooring, no matter what type you had, you can now replace them with new LVT planks or tiles. The first step to replacing is to make sure you have new LVT flooring, this can be vinyl or luxury vinyl.

At Harvey Maria, we focus on glue down or dry back LVT and also rubber flooring, but you will be able to replace any of the tiles in your new floor should the need arise. Glue down floors create a far more secure, watertight flooring surface than click or floating floor systems, so remember to order the adhesive with your new floor. We have a range of LVT floor supplies, which can help.

Here are some simple steps to installing dry-back LVT tiles:

Inspect the subfloor

Before installing new LVT, inspect the subfloor for any damage or imperfections. If there are any major damage or cracks, you’ll need to repair or replace the subfloor before installing the new flooring. Once you are happy with the subfloor, you will need to check if there’s any excess moisture.

Install waterproof underlayment

If you’re installing your new LVT flooring over a concrete subfloor, you’ll need to be sure there’s a damp proof membrane (DPM) or else install a suitable moisture proof underlayment to prevent moisture from seeping through. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the moisture barrier.

Level the subfloor

If the subfloor is uneven, use a floor levelling compound to create a smooth and level surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and applying the compound.

Plan the install project

Plan the layout of the LVT planks or tiles by measuring the length and width of the room and laying out the planks or tiles in the desired pattern. Maintain the steady room temperature at around 22°C throughout the project, including the 48 hours before fitting while the flooring is acclimatising in the room, right through until the adhesive has fully dried.

Cut the planks or tiles

Use a straight edge and utility knife to cut the planks or tiles to fit the edges of the room. With LVT flooring there’s no need to allow for expansion gaps between the planks or tiles and the wall.

Apply the adhesive

Apply the adhesive to the subfloor using a trowel or floor roller. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the adhesive and avoid pressure sensitive adhesives and tackifiers as these have less bonding strength than traditional wet-set adhesives; for normal conditions we recommend using the Harvey Maria adhesive, available to buy here, as it’s been tested with our products.

Install the planks or tiles

It will usually be best to start installing the planks or tiles from the centre of the room and firstly work your way into the furthest corner across the floor and leaving the entrance/exit to the room until last. Use a roller to press the planks or tiles firmly into the adhesive.

Waiting time

Once all the planks or tiles are installed, wait for 24 hours before using the floor and be sure to maintain the room conditions for the following 3 days at around 22°C, avoiding sudden temperature fluctuations, while the adhesive fully dries.

How to remove and replace a single LVT tile

If you want to remove and replace a single tile, you can also do this. Just follow the simple steps depending on which vinyl floor you may already have, but instead of removing the whole floor, just remove one tile or the surrounding tiles so you don’t damage more in the process. Then install the new replacement tiles following the specific installation type.

LVT room suitability guide

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parquet wood effect lvt flooring in living room