Flooring Removal Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain in the Back

Removing a floor or the surface of a floor can be messy and back-breaking work. But it doesn’t have to be if you have the right equipment.

Whether you’re removing tile, linoleum, vinyl, carpet, wood, or even coatings and concrete, the right equipment will help turn a long, tough job into a quick and simple one.

The four main pieces of equipment contractors use for removing a floor or coating from a floor include scrapers, grinders, scarifiers, and scabblers. What equipment you’ll need, however, comes down to the application and size of the job you’re facing.


Scrapers are designed to help you remove tile, linoleum, vinyl, carpet, or wood from a floor and are built to accommodate all types of job sites with battery, propane, and electric versions available. Additionally, scrapers also come in different sizes and capabilities, from makes and models intended for DIYers and light commercial use to professional, high-volume, industrial-sized projects.

Despite all the variation of scrapers available, scrapers are broken down into three versions – hand-held, walk-behind, and ride-on. While hand-held scrapers are the most affordable and easiest to use, they’re also labor-intensive and meant for smaller jobs in confined areas. By far, the most popular among contractors and rental companies are walk-behind or ride-on scrapers.

Ideal for removing carpet, vinyl, or linoleum flooring, walk-behind floor scrapers are also capable of removing wood and ceramic tile from concrete. However, for more challenging, labor-intensive jobs, ride-on scrapers may be the best choice.

For removing wood flooring or tile from concrete, ride-on scrapers are far and away the most productive, with the ability to rip through 120-feet of floor per minute. While ride-on scrapers are easier to use, first-time operators are advised to seek some training.

If you’re still not certain what scraper is best for your job, renting a few different types from a company like Herc Rentals is a good way to find out. Additionally, Herc Rentals will provide instruction from its team of flooring removal experts and even deliver and pick-up the equipment right from your job site.


Grinders, which use abrasives, are an optimum tool to wear down or remove concrete toppings or concrete surfaces prior to refurbishing an existing floor or installing a new one in a commercial or industrial building.

Grinders are primarily used to do three things: remove a floor covering like paint, adhesives or layers of grime; polish marble, granite or concrete and; perform industrial tasks like leveling expansion joints, high spots, and bridge decks.

Before renting or buying a grinder, there are some things you need to know. They include:

  • What’s the size of the job?
  • Where is the job, and is power available? (Gas or electric grinders are available.)
  • What kind of material needs to be removed, and what is its condition?
  • Will anything be applied over the prepared surface?

Once you can answer these questions, the search for the right grinder for the job you’re facing can continue. Unlike hand-held grinders, which are ideal for small surface grinding on concrete, floor grinders use weight, balance, and power to grind deeper and provide a smoother, more even surface over large areas faster.

Floor grinders have other benefits too. These benefits include:

  • Larger, rotating discs are more substantial, making the grinding process more efficient.
  • The operator is in a more comfortable and safer standing position.
  • Dust extraction vacuums are available, eliminating the spread of silica dust and a messy clean-up.

 If you’re still uncertain about which grinder is right for your job, consult the Herc Rentals Solutions Guide section on concrete and masonry or contact your local branch for an expert.


The final two pieces of equipment are scabblers and scarifiers, also known as concrete planers. While both are walk-behind machines, each are used for different applications.

Scabbling is the process of removing a thin layer of concrete in order to roughen surfaces to provide a better grip; prepare surfaces for repairs, grouting, sealing, coating or painting; create decorative effects; and remove adhesives, coatings or surface contamination. Most scabbling machines use several heads, each with carbide or steel tips that deliver up to 1,200 concrete hits per minute for fast surface removal.

Scarifiers, however, are designed to cut or scar the surface of concrete with the use of cutting tools that rotate around a drum. While this machine removes concrete faster and more aggressively than a grinder, it leaves behind a “scar” or rough profile that some coatings require for a complete bond.

Other applications of scarifiers include the removal of coatings such as roadway traffic lines, grooving sidewalks, and walkways to make them slip-resistant as well as leveling misaligned concrete joints and uneven surfaces.

To rent these and other flooring, concrete, and masonry equipment, visit one of Herc Rentals’ 275+ locations or one of our Floor Care Solution locations, which are located in Charlotte, NC; Atlanta, GA; Fairfield, NJ; and Benicia, CA, with more to come. Herc Rentals has the capability to relocate equipment from these locations to its local branches in just a few hours to rapidly meet customer needs.

For more flooring solutions and other equipment, check out the company’s Rental Solutions Guide.

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