Throwing Out The Carpet: Tips For Restoring Abused Wood Floors

Construction & Contractors Blog

Old houses all over the country have buried treasure hidden away in them. That is, thousands of these houses have high-quality, old-growth hardwood floors that were covered over with carpets when shag carpet was more "in" than wood. As homeowners rip out those horribly outdated pieces of carpet, something surprising emerges underneath. Chances are good that it's a big mess right now, but these steps will help restore that wood to its former glory.

Remove old carpet and debris

First, getting the carpet up is a pretty massive chore on its own. If you're lucky, someone stretched it out, tacked it at the edges and called it good. It's also possible that there are a ton of nails, staples or even screws in the wood, and maybe even some nasty adhesive. Pull nails and staples carefully—if you're using a claw hammer, put a tile or piece of scrap wood under the hammer's head so that it doesn't mar the wood as you pull. Some smaller nail holes can simply be filled or left alone; they'll fill in when the floor is refinished. Many commercial adhesive removers will damage wood, so discuss removal options with a qualified wood flooring professional, such as New York Hardwood Floors.

Now there's a good chance that you're staring at a floor that has decades of dirt built up on it. As you sweep and mop, be on the lookout. If there's evidence of paint chips, broken plaster or other materials in the mix, you may need to have it inspected for asbestos. Asbestos is harmless as it sits, but it's potentially deadly as a leading cause of lung cancer if it becomes airborne. Respiratory protection is a good idea even in the absence of asbestos.

Replace severely damaged boards wisely

Boards with holes in them—such as those with cutouts for long-gone radiators or appliances—can usually be repaired by a wood flooring professional. Chances are that the plug won't look exactly the same, but it shouldn't be a big problem since holes are most common in obscure corners of the room. The real problem comes with boards that have significant moisture stains, rotting or other irreparable damage. For these, take replacement boards from closets, small out-of-the-way rooms or areas where you know you'll be placing large furniture. All noticeable areas will match, and those hidden nooks can get the brand new boards.

Sand and finish with extra care

Check with a wood flooring expert to ensure that the wood is still thick enough to refinish. You can rent a power sander or hire a professional—it's easy to accidentally gouge the wood, so the latter is generally the safer option for your floor. On old turn-of-the-century floors, you may have to hand sand or look into non-marring refinishing techniques to retain the wear and patina that makes those floors so unique.

Through every step of restoring your hardwood floor, always remember that it's easier to ask for advice than to fix a mistake. Materials that were common for flooring 70-100 years ago are now quite expensive, so it's worth the investment to consult with experts to get the job done right. Once finished, you'll have a beautiful and unique floor that could potentially last another 100 years.

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3 June 2015

All About Building a Home

Welcome to my website. I'm Albert Frost. Besides my dad, one of my biggest role models was my uncle Rick. He was a construction contractor who would let me come on his construction sites and also taught me everything he knew about building homes, including how to install hardwood flooring and add insulation. I always wanted to grow up to build houses like my uncle. I used to help my uncle with a lot of the grunt work needed to make a home a reality. But then I hurt my back playing football. Until I heal completely, I'm going to devote as much of my time as possible to teaching others about various construction topics I'm interested in.