Trying to rescue a tongue-and-groove floor without ruining it can be tedious and time-consuming. The technique that I’ve developed keeps damage to a minimum, saves a lot of time and prevents frazzled nerves.
First, cut 12-in. to 18-in. 2x4s into wedges, as shown in the drawing. All wedges should be of equal length; and the wider the floorboards are, the longer the wedges should be. Flooring has to be removed in the reverse order in which it was laid. Remove a few runs of flooring with a prybar to expose the subfloor, and position the wedges about 12 in. apart, cut side down. Beginning at one end, drive the first wedge under the floorboards about an inch. It’s essential that the wedges be advanced slowly, or the flooring will split. Move the next wedge and repeat the process. This way the flooring is gradually lifted onto the wedges and pulled free from the subfloor.
When the loose flooring reaches the driving end of the wedges, remove a few strips and lay them aside for future cleanup. If a wedge hangs up on a nail, simply reposition the wedge.
A. Eugene Walbridge, Easton, MD