Have you ever wondered what treasure lies underneath that old wall-to-wall carpeting? Many of us have been living with carpet and have no idea if there is a beautiful hardwood floor underneath, but don’t dare to find out! It seems like a daunting project.
What happens if I rip up the carpet and the floor is unrepairable?
At Angelo’s Cleaning, we hear many customers’ stories about how they bought a house and are unsure whether it is worth the investment of ripping out the carpet or keeping it. Some carpets can be professionally cleaned and restored to their original color but some are beyond repair.
We get calls from new homeowners about old wall-to-wall carpets in smokers homes or ones where a dog or cat had many accidents that were never taken care of. In many situations Angelo’s Cleaning can take care of carpet odors or pet odors in carpeting. We are always available to talk with new homeowners before they move in to assess what the best thing is to do with the existing carpeting. But for those new homeowners, existing homeowners or businesses that are up for a treasure hunt read on!
How to remove wall to wall carpeting to expose a hardwood floor
View our list of materials below for the project and plan on taking a day (or more) to start the job. It is always a good idea to clear the furniture out of the room but if you can not do this, try to move all of the furniture to one side, pull out the carpeting and then switch the furniture to the other side. To uncover the original hardwood floor, it is smart to start in a corner of the carpet. You will most likely also find that the padding or underlayment that was stapled down to the floor. Many times that carpet pad can leave a black tarry residue on the wood floor, we will touch on this later.
For those lucky enough to find a jute carpet pad, you will most likely find a relatively clean floor underneath, but for those who find that the carpet pad was glued to the floor, removing adhesive may be a torturous process.
What will you expose? The Good, the bad, the ugly.
- The best case scenario will be that you expose a floor that only needs a good clean and a polish
- Second best is a floor that needs to be sanded and refinished. This scenario will require sanding machines which can be rented and a lot of prep and tools so hiring an expert is advisable. A sanding machine takes some practice and can ruin a floor in an instant. It is also quite heavy so if you are on an upper level of a house or have out side stairs it will require a truck and a few strong people to manage. Once the sanding process begins, it will take several days to reclaim the room and before the finish is dry enough to put furniture back into the room.
- Then there is the scenario of a painted floor. Painted floors where popular back in the day. It is not uncommon to find that the middle of the room is unpainted and the peripheral is. Painting around area rugs was common too. Most likely this paint is very old and a lead-test should be performed. If you do test positive for lead, a professional should be called to strip the floor OR another coat of paint or another new wall-to-wall carpet is a good solution.
- And lastly you may find a wood floor that is just too damaged to sand and re-finish. The wood may be splintered and chipped, broken. There may be many patches where previous homeowners had to access plumbing pipes or water leaks in old radiators. Or the wood may not be of nice quality. In this case, your treasure may be somewhere else… keep looking!
How to start ripping out a rug:
Start in a corner with a set of pliers. A good tug will start the process rolling. You will see the carpet pad below. Although tempting to rip it all out at once, the easiest way is to pull it back from one side of a room a few feet from the wall. From the underside of the carpet take a carpet knife or a utility knife with a brand new blade and score the carpet from the back side.
The backing of carpet is very abrasive and it is easy to go through a lot of blades. It also can be very abrasive on hands and can leave cuts – use gloves! Once a long piece is cut, either roll it up or fold it into sections to be bagged and put out in the trash. If kept in small pieces like this you will save a lot of back and neck aches. Now the fun really begins – keep going by cutting strips, bagging or rolling and clearing them from the room.
Pretty soon you will have just a carpet pad left. The carpet pad is almost always tacked or nailed to the floor (although in some cases you may encounter adhesive). The old foam-like multi-colored carpet padding is extremely hard to cut in nice clean lines with a knife or even a carpet knife, it can be ripped in pieces. Bag this up. You will see a lot of small tufts of carpet pad left. This is where the staples or nails are and your next job in the process of digging for treasure. By now you should know what kind of flooring is below and hopefully you hit gold!
Removing carpet tacks from a hardwood floor:
If you haven’t gotten a pair of knee pads, at this point you will see how helpful they really are! Many times the staples used are very slender yet fairly deeply forced into the wood. This makes using a normal sized flat screwdriver impossible. Also because they most likely were driven in with a nailer or carpet stapler, they will be quite close to the surface or even a bit below and a pair of needle nose pliers may not work well.
Try to find something that will fit under the staple like a very small screwdriver and twist it up. Once it is pulled up a bit, get a pair of needle nose pliers to finish the job. Sweep up all the debris on the floor, your next job requires gloves!
Removing carpet tack board:
The tack board left along all of the walls is extremely sharp because it holds a wall-to-wall carpet in place. It is very important to safely dispose of this tack board. A good way to do so is to keep a piece of carpeting and cut the tack board in strips, lay it on the carpeting, fold it over and put it in a bag.
You can start to remove the tack board by taking a large screwdriver or better yet a pry bar and pry it up where it was nailed into the floor boards. It comes in strips so there will be several nails in each one. Also many carpet installers use small pieces to go around corners or radiators, etc. A final broom and then a vacuuming is the last step before making your next decisions.
Cleaning a hardwood floor
Most likely your new floor is due for a cleaning! Using the correct cleaning solution is very important on a wood floor. Read our informative article about how to clean a hardwood floor . If you have a relatively clean floor all you need to do is give it a good cleaning. If you see a tarry residue or black spots that are sticky or tacky, you will still need those knee pads! This is part of the old carpet padding and either heavy furniture smashed it down onto the wood floor or sun and heat may have melted it over time. You will also notice that this stuff sticks to shoes and can become a real headache – make sure to either put bags over your shoes or use shoes that you do not plan to use indoors because it is very hard to remove. Using a pail of hot water and a small amount of vinegar (or you can use a tiny bit of dish detergent), use a scrub sponge and start scrubbing. Have another bucket of clear water and a clean rag or sponge to rinse off the floor once the black residue is removed. Make sure to not leave puddles. You can use an old towel to buff of any existing water.
If your floor looks great, you are done! If it could use a buffing/polishing OR another coat of polyurethane or a small repair, visit Angelo’s Hardwood Floor Cleaning page to get a quote or schedule in real time.
Supplies Needed to pull up your old carpeting:
Tools to start the job:
- Vacuum to clean the rug prior t pulling up and after the floor is exposed
- Garbage bags or duct tape (depending upon if your garbage company will take a roll of old carpet or if they prefer it to be bagged)
- Carpet knife or VERY sharp utility knife to cut up the old carpet and the old carpet padding into small strips either that can be rolled and taped or fit into the garbage bags
- Pry-bar or large flat head screwdriver for pulling up the old carpet tack strips along the edge of the room
- Hammer for pulling nails from the floor
- Pliers to pull the carpet up
- Small flat head screwdriver for pulling all of the staples that were holding the carpet pad on the wood floor
- Broom and dustpan to handle all of the large debris
Safety equipment needed:
- Safety glasses to protect your eyes while pulling out the rug and staples and nails from the floor
- Knee pads will help avoid bruises on your knees while kneeling to work on the floor
- Work Gloves to protect hands from any carpet tacks, staple or nails and also the underside of the carpet which is quite abrasive
How Angelos Can Restore Your Hardwood Floors
- We remove all of the floor’s old residues such as worn-in dirt, grease, dust and contaminants by using floor cleaning machines that safely and effectively clean the wood without scratching it.
- We use extremely durable protective coatings that provide a long-lasting seal.
- We buff hardwood floors with microfiber pads that are safe to use without scratching or denting your wood floor.
- We can make a very large process of maintaining a wood floor a simple phone call away! Call us today to see how we can bring your wood floor back to it’s original brilliance!
Call Angelo’s today: 610-935-7557 – we have brought back many hardwood floors to their original brilliance and would love to help you find your hidden treasure!