First Time DIY: Carpet vs Hardwood

2013-03-19 by . 11 comments

Post to Twitter

When my wife & I decided to buy our first house I had never thought about whether I wanted hardwood floors or not. My wife on the other hand, LOVED them. After we had picked out our house, we were doing a walk through to determine what things needed to be fixed by the sellers  (a sampling): maxwell floors 2

  • Repair the moldy bathroom
  • Find and repair the gas leak
  • Clean the carpet

We walked into the now guest bedroom and I saw that there was no molding in the closet and that the carpet was loose. Instead of just marking it down as something for them to fix, I was curious and pulled back the carpet. To our surprise, we found original hardwood floors! My wife flipped.

After pulling back the closet’s carpet completely, we saw that it looked almost as if the floors had been refinished and then someone laid carpet on top of it. What a shame.

Once we found the flooring, the repair list looked more like this:

  • Repair the moldy bathroom
  • Find and repair the gas leak
  • Clean the carpet Whatever you do, do NOT clean the carpet!

But, what the sellers heard was:

  • Don’t worry yourself about the mold in the bathroom, just knock a couple hundred off the price
  • Gas leak? *sniff* What gas le–…. *passes out*
  • Ignore our requests and please clean the carpet and leave it wet Pay ZERO attention to this!

I about lost it. Not only did the two things we wanted fixed not get fixed, but now, instead of rolling up and disposing of dry carpet, I had to work with soggy, smelly carpet. Luckily, my friend, Josh, came over and helped me out.

First we took off the quarter round, then we ripped up the carpet and pad. After we finally got it all out of the house, we went around the room and pulled up the tack strip from the edges of the room Because of delays to our closing date, we now only had a few days to completely refinish the floor before we had to move out of our old apartment, my in-laws came down to help us sand the floors.

I rented an Expandable Drum Floor Sander and a 7″ Floor Edger Sander. I worked the floor sander while my father-in-law worked the edger.

maxwell floors 5

A few things I learned from this experience:

  • Clean the floors first & remove as much of the old carpet/cushion as possible. We were lucky enough to only tack strips along the edges of the carpet. But, some of the cushion tore off and stuck to the floor where the previous tenants spilled something. Any sticky residue will gum up the sanding belts and they’ll be useless.

(Quick Tip: If you find that your belts are beginning to get gummed up, sometimes you can take a soft wire brush to them, scrapping off a bit of the residue and continue sanding.)

  • Crawl on your hands and knees to find nail heads, screws, staples, etc. Again, we were lucky enough to have been told this before hand or else I would probably have totally fouled up my first sanding belt. If you don’t find and pull out (staples) or hammer back down (nails) these pieces of metal, you run the risk of ruining your sanding belt or worse: break the drum itself.
  • Go with the grain. It will look terrible if you do not.
  • KEEP IT MOVING! I don’t have a picture, but if you don’t keep that drum sander moving, you WILL end up with a dip in your floor from where the sander just kept digging in.  Same goes for the edger: if you let it set in one place for too long, you’ll begin to smell burning wood and you’ll come away with a black spot on your floor. I learned both of these lessons the hard way.
  • If you start to see a lot of dust, clean out your bag
Maxwell floors 6

Sorry the picture’s a bit fuzzy, but if you look hard you can see the little bits of carpet pad stuck to the floor. That’s where they stapled the pad down.

Just like with any sanding project, you have to start with rough grit and work your way up to a finer grit.  It took us the better part of a day to get the living room and two bedrooms finished. Afterwards you’re left with a very nice ready to stain floor.

Maxwell Floors 7

Be sure to vacuum well before you apply any stains or sealers.

We spent the next two days in a combination of staining/sealing and moving. We had one extra room in the house were we stored everything we owned. We stacked boxes to the ceiling in that little room. We even slept there, my wife on the couch and me on the floor.

In the end it was all worth it though! I don’t always like the hardwood, but BOY! does it feel good to show it off and say that we did it!

As of this writing, there are now scratches on the floor – but that’s pretty typical wear & tear. It’s about time to do some touch up work. Maybe I’ll write something about that, too!

Finished a project lately that has made you proud? Let us know in the comments!

profile for joshmax on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites

Filed under Projects


Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  • warren says:

    I’ve known several places that put gymcote [sp] down over their hardwood after sealing/staining.

    The wood was definitely a great find under the carpet!

  • Scattermats says:

    A rug is a fabric rug made up of an upper part of “pile” attached to a support. So in that case your post is really helpful to me and also for everyone.

  • June Huston says:

    Very useful ideas! We are going to renovate our house next week and your solutions are really going to help us! Thank you a lot for sharing!

  • Faith Grant says:

    You did a great job! I’ll be very happy if you share how you treated the scratches. Thank you!

  • Fmaintenance says:

    Facilities maintenance is a Building Maintenance Baton Rouge difficult challenge for homeowners and businesses both large and small in Louisiana.

  • Maaz Iqbal says:

    Your blog is very informative. I have solved my many problems with the help of your articles. In the way, you write is very amazing, it increases my interest and I read more and more. Thanks.

  • Ryan Rogers says:

    That’s a wise decision. I will use portable carpet at the living room.

  • It is really good and excitement when you move to a new house, but there is burden a swell you get tired of shifting your home accessories from one to place to another, then it is obvious you need to fix up the home before you get shift there. anyway this is really old post but I read to know whats going on around the world , how people are living life. wandering !

  • natasha says:

    This is what i was looking for,thanks. Natasha,natural aquarium hobbyist,

  • Zoya Ali says:

    Really Nice work

  • very nice article thanks

  • Comments have been closed for this post