Installing HardWood Floors – Phase 1 The Demolition


People always ask me for advice on projects like I am Bob Villa or something.  The truth is, I am more like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.  I love tools but pretty much botch any project I start!  I decided to tear out my kitchen and laundry area and replace it with hardwood flooring.  Whenever I start a project, my buddy Joe, who is a handyman comes over and takes over because he knows I will mess something up.

I hand picked all the tools for this project and in the next couple weeks we will go over all the tools for the different stages of job.  First, we need to rip out the old tile and subfloor.  This is a daunting task to say the least!

First thing we need to do is remove the trim.  You can either be careful and save it or get new trim which is what I did.

  • Pry Bar
  • Hammer
  • Utility Knife

To start we want to run the utility knife across the top of the trim to make sure it won’t pull off the drywall paper when we pry.  Next you will use your pry bar to slowly pull the trim away from the wall.  Tip: Look for nails in the trim.  This may mean a stud which is where you want to leverage your pry bar at so you don’t damage the drywall.  Ok now that all the trim is removed, we need to tear out the tile for this we will need:

  • 5lb or more hammer
  • Scraper/chisel
  • SDS Hammer Drill with chipping mode – Optional
Now we need to get up the tile.  We smacked each tile a few times then chipped away the tiles with a DeWALT DCH213L2 SDS drill and a Bosch SDS plus tile bit.  The SDS went through the tiles like butter.  Here is where I found out that I need heavy duty cut proof gloves for this job.  I sliced the tip of my finger off and the kitchen looked more like a murder scene than a job site.  A quick visit to Walgreens for some gauze and bandages and I was patched up.  This is a dusty part of the job so it is a good idea to seal off the area with plastic.
The next thing we need to do is rip out the subfloor and for this we used:
  • Pry Bar – We used a combination of the DeWALT DWHT55132 42″ wrecking pry bar and the GearWrench pry bar which had awesome leverage.
  • Reciprocating saw – We used the DeWALT 20V max reciprocating saw with Milwaukee Ax blades to cut in around the cabinets.  When we needed to cut through tile we used a Milwaukee diamond reciprocating blade.  Milwaukee makes great blades and we had no issues.
  • Circular saw – Optional, you can use this to rip the subfloor into more manageable pieces.
  • MultiTool – This comes in very handy in all stages of the project. We used a corded Fein Multitool on the long cuts and a 12V Porter Cable multitool for quick nail cuts.
  • Shop Vac – A good shop vac is a necessity, We tried using the Home Depot Bucket Head Vacuum and soon realized that it was worthless for this.  We ended up using a RIDGID 5 hp 12 gallon that I have had for years.
The pointed end of the DeWALT pry bar prevents it from hanging up on nails or staples which gives you better penetration into the subfloor.  Once we have the lip pried up we used the GearWrench indexing pry bar  to really crank on some leverage.  When cutting around the cabinets you need to be careful to only cut out the subfloor.  Once the subfloor is up it is time to prep for the flooring.  For this we used:
  • Pliers – We used Milwaukee’s linesman pliers for this.
  • Hammer – For those nails not fully seated, just tap them in.
  • Scraper – Scrape any old glue or imperfections off the surface.  You want the surface smooth and clean.
Once you have the the floor all prepped it is a good idea to patch up the bottom of your walls with spackle if you intend to paint.  All the tools we used worked out great except for the Bucket Head Vacuum which did not have the power that we needed for this task.  The 20V DeWALT SDS really took a beating and worked flawlessly.  Stay tuned – In the next article will be laying the hardwood floor.


  1. Dan you been hanging around with Eric too long, now you are tossing your tools around like he does.
    You guys are hell on tools. Didn’t your daddy teach ya nothing? LOL


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