What To Do With Old Laminate Flooring: Recycling & Repurpose Options

Without some creativity, your choices for recycling old laminate flooring are limited. Fortunately, there are better options than just trashing your old laminate floor planks. When it comes to repurposing your laminate floor, options exist.

Coming up are some excellent ways to repurpose and recycle your laminate flooring at minimal cost and with minimal effort.

Can You Repurpose Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is widely considered to be the most eco-friendly choice. It may be synthetic, but it’s comprised of wood blended with melamine resin — a manufactured derivative of an organic compound called urea. This is good to know for two reasons:

  1. Since laminate is almost exactly like wood, you can treat it the same way and remodel it into anything you like
  2. If you don’t want to reuse it, it can be broken down and recycled

So, before you dump your old panels, try the following:

Revive Your Table Tops

Your flooring probably isn’t damaged beyond repair, so you’re bound to salvage enough panels to refurbish your home. One super-handy (and stylish) idea is to resurface your table, counter, and island tops.

It’s not too difficult to do, and it makes a great project for those keen on DIY design. Here’s a simple example of how laminate can be applied to other surfaces with minimal effort and skill:

Just be sure to give your old panels a thorough cleaning before you re-use them!

Build a New Table

You don’t have to be a carpenter to make something out of your old laminate. The possibilities are practically endless — only limited by how much laminate (and time) you have to spare.

You could build whatever you like, be it a coffee table, desk, or bedside table. You could even have chairs or stools to match if you’re willing to put in the time.

Redesign Your Walls

If you have enough panels, try repurposing your floor into a wainscoting. Doing so is an extra affordable way to revamp your entire room (or even home, depending on how many panels you have).

I’ve always liked the look of wainscoting. It reminds me of classic literature and other period pieces. Did you know that initially, wainscoting was used to both insulate rooms and protect walls from damage? These days, it’s usually a stylistic choice, but it’s as functional as it is pretty.

This is a larger DIY project, but if you’re feeling up to the challenge, it’s guaranteed to transform the look and feel of your entire space. Consider it the perfect excellent example of killing two birds with one stone!

Build Shelves

You might have to reinforce your panels, but laminate planks are perfect for building bookshelves or other similar pieces like display racks, drawers, and mantlepieces. This project can be as intricate or as simple as you like. There’s a lot of room to experiment.

Floating shelves are a fantastic way to decorate your space if you have little room or smaller bits and pieces of laminate. You can decorate your laminate as you see fit for a shelve or display with a little more personality. Spice racks or floating shelves for your toiletries are options you may like, even if you’re not a bookworm.

Use Laminate Planks in Your Garden

If you’re over laminate floors inside your home, why not move them outdoors? Use it as a fence or border to partition your plants, build flowerbeds from them, or refurbish your patio or deck.

Keep in mind that not all laminate is intended for outdoor use. Yes, it’s far more water-resistant than natural wood and won’t succumb to dampness, mold, or rot as quickly, but you will have to weatherproof your panels (if they’re not already) if you want them to hold up in the elements.

Make a DIY Bike Rack

Create a pallet out of your old planks, and you can set it up as a nifty, quirky bike rack. I like this because it’s functional, space-efficient, and will jazz up your shed or yard. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, don’t forget to treat your laminate first if you plan to store your rack outside.

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What Can I do With Scraps of Laminate Flooring?

Unfortunately, some repurposing projects are too big to commit to because you may not have enough laminate to build with. But hope is not lost. You can breathe new life into the odds and ends that have nowhere to go. Here’s how:

Use Laminate for Frames

All you would really need for this is a saw and some wood glue, but you can make your frames as intricate as you like. Photo frames are effortless to make and will use up little of your time. Why not get the kids involved?

Consider this: if you do a good enough job cleaning and revamping the laminate scraps. You could even craft frames to give as meaningful gifts — or sell them.

For large scraps, frame your mirrors or artworks. There’s almost nothing to it.

Make an Outdoor Doormat

Combining scrapped planks will serve as a lovely doormat to place outside your home. Not only will it look sophisticated, but it will prevent dirt from tracking into your home.

There are two considerations, though: first, remember to weatherproof your laminate to prevent damage. Second, some laminate can be slippery, so you may want to sand it down to prevent tumbles when it rains.

Craft Stops

Maybe you have a door that keeps hitting your wall or books that refuse to stay upright. Blocks of old laminate work well as door stops and bookends, and you literally don’t need any skill to make these.

Mount Your Planks

There are so many ways that you can turn old laminating flooring into mounted decor. With the right paint and stencil, you can make your own signs — welcome signs, pithy inspirationals (like Live Laugh Love, if that’s what you like), or personalized doorplates.

Then, you can use laminate planks as a base for many types of racks. Add hooks to it, and you can hang your keys, cables, hats, coats, bags, or what-have-you to keep things organized, within reach, and out of the way.

Can You Restore Old Laminate Flooring?

There are so many fantastic ideas out there that it’s unreasonable to let old laminate go to waste. But, I want to remind you — it’s not always doom and gloom, and you don’t have to tear your laminate from your floors to revive it.

Depending on the extent of the damage, it could be easier (and cheaper) to fix your floors rather than attempt to repurpose them. So, before you commit to any of the above ideas, consider the following:

If Your Corners are Chipped

Wood filler can easily restore your floors to their former glory. Find a filler that matches the color of your laminate, smear it on, and even it out with a putty knife. Once it’s dry, sand it down and varnish as necessary.

If Your Planks are Peaking

You’ll have to adjust them. Laminate will expand and contract according to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. If you don’t have sufficient extension gaps, your planks could shift and buckle. There is an easy way to fix it, though.

If Your Floors are Scratched

The only way to fix scratches and scrapes is to buy a handy wax pencil that matches your floors and to fill them in. Make sure that the wax you use is appropriate for laminate.

If you have slightly worse problems, like holes, gaps, or more severe damage, you could try to fill it with sealant. Sand it down and varnish when you’re done.

If You’re Simply Bored of Your Laminate Floor

I get it. Styles and tastes change, so even if your laminate floor is in perfect condition, you may still want to see it go. You do you, but before you remove your planks, there’s one last thing to consider.

You don’t have to go out of your way to revitalize your old laminate floor. Sometimes all it takes is a layer of paint or two. You could completely transform your floor without remodeling it if you have the correct paint and suitable equipment.

But should you? I’ll weigh up the benefits and disadvantages, and you can be the judge.

Pros

  • Painting a laminate floor costs less than replacing one
  • With the right tools, it’s relatively easy to do
  • You can paint your laminate in any style you like

Cons

  • Though it’s easy, it’s time-consuming and requires a lot of prep
  • Laminate paint may not last. Many people report peeling over time.
  • It takes a while, so you may have to close off your space. This is not ideal for rooms that get a lot of foot traffic.

Can You Burn Old Laminate Flooring?

You should never burn laminate flooring. Burning laminate flooring releases harmful chemicals like formaldehyde which is a toxic chemical.

If you’d rather get rid of your old laminate floors, your first instinct may be to turn them into firewood. Please don’t do this.

Laminate may resemble wood, but it is a synthetic material and should be considered as such. Treat it exactly as you would plastic, regardless of how much of it is made from natural wood. 

If you burn laminate, its resin will melt and release formaldehyde, an almost undetectable and highly toxic chemical. If exposed to it, it could irritate your skin, sinuses, nose, and throat and — in severe cases — could cause cancer and other complications.

Burning laminate may seem like the most efficient way to get rid of it, but it’s not worth the potential risks.

How Do You Get Rid of Laminate Flooring?

So what are your options if you have no interest in repurposing your laminate but can’t chuck it in a bonfire? Despite what you may have heard, the answer is simple.

If you have small scraps of laminate flooring left, place them in a trash bag and throw them away. For large amounts of laminate planks, it’s best to take laminate planks to a local landfill that has the capabilities to recycle them. Some landfills do not accept laminate floor planks, so call before you go. For small remodeling projects, companies like Waste Management can (for a fee) drop off small waste bins that can be filled and picked up for proper disposal when ready.

Throw it Away

If your laminate scraps are small enough to fit in your trash or dumpster, do so. It’s the quickest way to relieve yourself of the burden. 

That said, you can’t just dump your planks wherever you feel like it. If you have a sizeable amount of laminate, you’ll have to drop it off at a landfill. 

The best way around this is to break up larger planks so that they will fit in your trash and dispose of them as you would any other household waste. But there’s an even better solution…

Recycle Your Laminate Panels

Even if you find a way to sneak your laminate scraps into the garbage, it’s not easy to dispose of, so the environment will appreciate you if you drop it off at a landfill for recycling.

However, not all landfills are equipped to manage construction materials, which applies to recycling centers. Some of them don’t have the means to recycle laminate in particular because of its composition.

There are ways around this, though. Calling ahead to find out if your landfill or recycling hub can take your laminate off your hands is the simplest option.

But the most efficient way to declutter your laminate scraps and ensure that you will recycle them is to rent a dumpster. Chuck your laminate in the bin you’ve reserved especially for it, and Waste Management will ensure that it’s collected, sorted, and disposed of in the best way possible.

Fun fact: when laminate flooring is recycled, it’s usually stripped, shredded, and used as filler wood — though more sophisticated recyclers use it as fuel. Fancy that!

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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