Removing Nails From Floorboards

A guide to removing nails from floorboards.

Many of us are dismayed to find many tiny tacks, nails or staples embedded in our old wooden floorboards when we remove the carpet that was covering them. It really is not the end of the world if you have floor boards with small nails in and if removed correctly the small divots left in the face of the boards will give your floor a character that is hard to fake and will make your floor much more interesting than any new wooden floor.

Best tools for the job:

Claw hammer
This tool is what most people will grab when it comes to removing nails but it is not often the best tool for this job as the heads of the tacks are small and they are often flush with the surface of the floorboard so they cannot be caught in the groove of the claw. The claw hammer is also not much use on staples which are another fixing item often found in old floorboards.

Staple and tack lifter
These are good if the tacks are not flush or below the surface of the floorboards but they can cause unnecessary damage to the surface of the board if they are dug under the tack or staple in order to grab the item.

These old favourites are dependable but it can be hard to gain the leverage needed to pull embedded ribbed nails out so we normally extend the handles by adding a couple of lengths of pipe over the handles of the pinchers.

Drop hammer nail puller
These are great for tough nails that are below the surface but they will damage the face of your floorboard as the jaws of the extractor are driven into the board by the hammer.

Diagonal cutting pliers
These are one of our favourite tools for removing small nails and tacks from floorboards as the nib can be used to grab the head of the nail while the angle of the tools head provides a way to lever the nail from the board.

Another option
We have a number of retail clients that have asked us not to remove small tacks and nails as they have chosen the option of nailing them flush and then sanding and polishing the boards which gives a rustic finish with shiny nail heads to add character.

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