How to Choose the Best Wood Flooring Removal Machine

How to Choose the Best Wood Flooring Removal Machine

If a hardwood floor can last a lifetime, why do we need to remove them? Sure, hardwood floors are sturdy and durable, but they are not indestructible. There are a few reasons why people will say “sayonara” to their old wood floor and opt for a new one.

If you plan to rip up your floor, consider a wood floor removal machine. It can save a lot of time and labor during demolition so you can install the new floor faster.

In this blog, we’ll cover why it may be time to part ways with your old wood floor. Next, we’ll divulge everything you need to know about floor removal machines. 

Don’t plan to do-it-yourself? We’ve got an interesting alternative for you too, so read on.

Is It Time to Remove Your Wood Floor?

Typically, a solid wood floor can withstand sanding and refinishing at least six times before it needs replacing. Gaps can be filled, cracks repaired, and the stain changed, to avoid removing the wood. 

However, there are situations where replacement is the better option.

Water Damage

Whether the water came from a leaking pipe or a leaky pet, long-term water damage is irreversible. It seeps down, deep into the pores of the wood, creating dark stains. It can even rot the wood, causing it to lose strength. The size and location of the damaged wood will determine whether sanding and refinishing are no longer options.

Structural Problems

Water, fire, termites, and neglect can cause severe damage. The only alternative is to replace the flooring. Cupping, crowning, splitting, and loose boards are signs of neglect that a superficial, cosmetic refinishing won’t solve.

Too Much Resurfacing

Sanding and refinishing a floor can remove as much as 1/16 inch of wood each time. Eventually, too much sanding will show, and the wood becomes too thin.

You Need A Wood Floor Makeover

Homeowners usually decide to dismantle their current wood floor when they change their home design or move to a new home. The floor has a significant effect on how you feel. Replacing with the right wood floor can make your home look larger and cozier.

No Time to Refinish

Refinishing an old floor takes time. It must be sanded, cleaned, and then stained and finished. Every coat of stain and finish needs at least a day to cure before adding additional layers. It can take four days or more before you can walk on the floor. That’s not easy if it’s your kitchen, and you have kids and pets to keep off the floor.

A DIYer can tear up the old floor and lay down a new, solid, pre-finished wood floor in only two to three days. With a pre-finished floor, you can walk on it immediately. 

If you’ve decided to tear up the floor yourself, a floor removal machine can save you hours of back-breaking labor.

What is a Wood Floor Removal Machine?

A floor removal machine or floor scraper combines the power of an oscillating cutting tool with the leverage of a pry bar and the force of a sledgehammer in one useful machine. You can find two types, a walk-behind floor scraper or a ride-on. Like choosing a lawnmower, the more area you need to strip, the bigger the machine you need. 

Walk-behind floor removers use an electric motor to power the cutting blade. They plug into any standard outlet. 

Ride-on floor strippers use rechargeable batteries or propane-powered combustion engines for power. Although they can go through doorways only 30 to 32 inches wide, they are best suited for wide-open floors.

How Does It Work?

Floor stripping machines use an oscillating blade to cut underneath flooring like an electric knife carves a Thanksgiving turkey. As the machine moves forward, the blade cuts through the glue and fasteners. The angle of the blade forces the wood planks up until they break free like a snowplow plowing a road. 

For most walk-behind floor scrapers, the operator uses his weight to push it forward. Just like lawnmowers, there are also self-propelled models. For ride-on, the motor drives the entire unit forward with the operator sitting on top. 

If you don’t plan to salvage the floor, then a floor removal machine will save you a great deal of time, labor, and knee pain.

Look for These Features

When comparing models of powered floor scrapers, here are some items to add to your checklist of features:


For walk-behind machines, it should run off any standard 110/115 v outlet. Make sure you can power it easily from any location. Look for at least a 1-hp motor for better performance. For ride-on floor scrapers, they can be propane or battery powered.


For walk-behind machines, the handles should collapse, and the cutting attachment removable, so it can easily fit in small vehicles.

Adjustable Blade Angle

Be sure there is an adjustment knob to raise or lower the rear wheels. You’ll want a shallow angle to remove hardwood floors.

Removable Nose Weight

Added weight to the front of the machine helps keep the blade low to the ground. Most machines come with removable weights for added traction and pressure.

Push Point

A kick plate or push point is an area where you can push the entire unit with the foot when you need added force.

Variable Blade Widths

Look for models that accept different blade widths for various parts of the floor. Be sure that the blade can adjust offset to one side for working next to the wall.

Again, you can choose to walk or ride. If you need to strip a large area, riding is the way to go. However, you’ll need to ensure that the machine has access to the floor before ordering one. These machines will fit through a standard doorway but can’t climb steps. Also, ride-on floor scrapers weigh as much as 2,800 pounds (1,310 kg), so you don’t want to drive it over a weak floor, or you will end up in the basement.

The Best Wood Floor Removal Machine for You

The primary consideration for finding the right machine for you is the area of floor you need to remove. Walk-behind floor removers can strip about 200 sq. ft. per hour. They are best for homes and light industrial spaces. 

By comparison, ride-on machines can use a 16” blade and drive at six mph. That’s overkill for a 1,200 sq. ft. space. A ride-on machine will be too heavy and costly to be practical for stripping a typical home floor. It’s best suited for mansions or large commercial applications such as gymnasiums and grocery stores. 

For evaluation and reference, we’ve included three ride-on machines along with four walk-behind wood floor scraping machines below. Where possible, we’ve added the company videos so you can see how they operate. 

Walk-Behind Models

Be certain that the model you want is heavy enough to remove solid wood floors. Some models only remove carpet or vinyl. 

Ride-On Models

Whatever machine you choose, be sure that you have access to additional blades. There is no point in renting a floor removal machine if they can’t get replacement blades. 

And, speaking of renting…

Do You Rent or Buy?

To purchase a walk-behind floor scraper, expect to shell out around $1,500. For a ride-on, you can pay from $28,000 up to $33,500. 

These are just ballpark figures but expect to pay about $350 per week to rent a walk-behind and $850 per day for a ride-on machine. Check with your local equipment rental store for an accurate quote.

For a one-time floor removal job, renting is your best option. If you plan to flip houses or go into the flooring business, purchasing may be a more cost-effective option. Break out the calculator to see when purchasing is better than renting. You can always buy a used machine for substantial savings. If the mechanical parts are sound, it is an economical way to go. 

There is usually more than one maker of any tool, and floor removal machines are no different. So, which machine should you buy or rent? If you’re renting, you will be limited by the machines the local companies have on hand. Typically, they will buy the best that they can because they don’t want to get stuck with broken equipment. 

If you plan to buy, ask rental and flooring companies what they recommend. You’ll get a good picture of models and brands that will suit your needs.

Lastly, if the company has been in business for more than five years, it’s a good bet that they built the equipment to last. Typically, they offer the best warranties and guarantees. Always buy machines with solid warranties.

Wood floor scraping machines use a lot of force, creating dust, flying splinters, and nails. You must protect your eyes and ears while working with these machines.

Replace the Floor the Easy Way

Now that you have ripped up the floor the easy way, why not install a solid hardwood floor the easy way too? 

Easiklip has a selection of solid oak floors that simply clip together. You won’t need to buy or rent a floor nailer because there are no nails or glue required. You can walk on these pre-finished floors immediately after installation. There are no fumes or mess. Order a sample kit to see how easy it is to install and how it will look in your home.



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  • Bill Grover