Removing the 1/4in luan floor for 3/4in hardwood installation

Answered by Brett ~ October 12, 2010 ~ Comments

My 1/4" luan (I think it's luan) has been there for 30 years. It not only had lots of 1" long plus nails holding it down, somebody decided to shoot about 100 brad type nails in it as well. This material basically glued itself to my subfloor. I tried to pry it up, however about 50% will not pry up. It split in layers and I have resorted to using a very sharp 2" wide wood chisel to get under the very thin layers of material that are stuck to my subfloor. Any suggestions ? I may be here another 2 weeks trying to get the rest of it up..but my contractor is coming tomorrow to install my hardwood flooring!

Jack G. ~ Raleigh, North Carolina

Brett Kulina

Wow Jack, you are in a bind if the flooring installer is coming tomorrow, because I'm not sure that there is a quick fix for this problem. Although luan plywood should never be used under tile, there are a few acceptable conditions where it can remain in place under a hardwood floor. Yet, you have already removed most of the old luan, so now you have to finish the job and remove ALL of it!

I would push back the floor installer a few days so that you can properly prepare the sub-floor for the new hardwood floors. You may have better luck removing the old flooring if you use a bigger tool, such as a one made for removing roof shingles. These tools are bigger than hand held chisels and will offer more leverage when prying up the old material. Without seeing the floor, I am hesitant to suggest using chemical adhesive removers or other such products which might help separate the luan floor from the underlying sub-floor. I think that your best bet is some serious elbow grease and determination. Hopefully your hard work will be worth it when you see your new wood floors. Good luck.

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