Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Pulling up carpet can't be that bad!"

File this one under famous last words. My dear husband J's famous last words, who was convinced pulling up the carpet to reveal the hardwoods underneath couldn't be that bad.

Oh, it was. The previous residents allowed their large dogs to use the house as a really large litter box. The carpet, which was only about eighteen months old, looked like it had been down since the Clinton presidency. The pet stains went straight through the carpet and into the pad, and in some places straight through to the hardwoods underneath. Actually, in some places the pad stuck to the floor because of the moisture. I'll be scraping those places up by hand. Not to be childish...but ew!

So, how did we remove the carpet? First we scored the carpet into roughly four foot sections using a heavy duty box-cutter. This was mostly because our city (bless them) will pick up the carpet at no extra charge as long as the pieces are reasonably sized. It also made rolling the carpet up A LOT easier. I'm not tall. Quite the opposite, actually. Cutting the carpet made it easier for me to haul the carpet out unassisted, which is good for my pride.

A good box cutter is key. Push down on the carpet to get a feel for the depth. You ideally want to cut through the carpet and mat but not scratch the hardwoods underneath. Occasionally I had to re-cut the mat. Remember that the depth might not be consistent from room to room. J cut the carpet in a closet only to find no mat underneath. Luckily, only a small scratch resulted.

Next Jeremy used a small crowbar to pry up the tack boards, putting the end of the bar under one end of the tack board and then tapping the crowbar with a rubber mallet. Here's the thing about how-to  tutorials when it comes to undoing or redoing things in an older home; most blogs and books give you instructions on the assumption that whatever you are working on was done correctly the first time.

Hahahahahahaha. Anyone who has started a project only to quickly hit the "what the $%%^^&&&$" stage knows this is a relatively rare state of being. Tack boards should be held down with small tack nails. Whomever installed this carpet used whatever nail was most handy. Small nails, large nails, fat nails, thin nails. It made prying up the boards a lot harder and more dangerous (nails went flying a few times), because the larger nails required more force to pull up than the smaller nails.

Next up is scraping up the pieces of mat stuck to the floor and cleaning the floors. Oh, and removing the hundreds of staples used to hold the carpet into place. If only the installers had known about the dogs! Then they needn't had bothered.


  1. Yikes. We only had one room like that, but I couldn't put my finger on what made it stinky. It smelled like pickles. The hardwood floors in the living room, however, looks like there was a pogo stick contest held in there. I'm not sure that they're savable. :-/ Eh, that's what rugs are for, I guess.

  2. Holy cow! What a mess carpet can be, but at least you had simidecent hardwood underneath?! The first year I owned my cabin "The Casablanca" we had heavy rains and the bedroom skirts agains a hill, water flooded the entire room about 4" deep. When I went to rip the carpet out to let the floor dry, much to my surprise there were FOUR LAYERS of carpet... (none of them original) So when I finally hit the plywood subfloor I swore no more carpet. So now I have this GREAT pine vinyl from Lowes it looks resembles hard wood floor, and foold most people into thinking its hardwood!

  3. Semi-decent might be an overstatement. We should've allotted more time before we moved in, because they DESPERATELY need refinishing.

    Also, if I'd pulled up multiple layers of carpet to hit subfloor...I'd a pulled a Helen Lawson. A big Helen Lawson. I had that pine vinyl stuff in my house, though, and loved it.


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