Carpets have been used for floor covering since pre-colonial times due to their coziness, easy maintenance, and fast installation.
However, many modern homeowners are ripping up their old carpets in favor of the underlying wood. If that’s the route you choose to go, you’ll likely need a primer on how to make that floor look its best. So, without further ado, here is how to restore hardwood floors after carpet removal. After you have done that, you can determine if your floors need a buff and a coat or not here.
Removing the Carpet from a Hardwood Floor
Before the wood restoration process, of course, you will have to remove the old carpet from the floor. Clear the room by relocating everything to a store or another room.
Open the windows and wear your protective gear, including a dust mask, knee pads, rubber gloves, rubber boots and safety glasses.
You will need the following:
- Utility knife – for cutting up the carpet and/or padding into small size strips for easy removal from the room
- Pry bar – for pulling up the carpet tack strips from the floor
- Plastic putty knife – to remove any old padding stuck to the floor
- Hammer – for pulling nails from the floor
- Pliers – for pulling staples holding carpet pad
- Masking tape or duct tape – for securing rolls of carpet & padding for removal
- Safety glasses – to protect your eyes when pulling staples and nails from the floor
- Dust mask – to protect yourself from inhaling dust and dander
- Knee pads – to help when kneeling to work on the floor
- Broom / vacuum – for dusting the hardwood after removing the carpet
- Hardwood floor cleaner – for deep cleaning
- Hardwood Polish & Restorer – for polishing the wood to make it shiny
- Sponge mop – for application of a floor polish
- Remove baseboards with a small pry bar. You will want to do this carefully if you want to keep them for reuse.
- Pull up the carpet and carpet padding — cutting it into manageable pieces — and remove it from the room without scratching the floor.
- Pry up the carpet tack strips and/or the wood strips along the edges that the carpet was nailed to.
- Use a staple remover or pliers to remove the staples from the wood.
- Use a plastic putty knife to gently remove any old padding stuck to the floor.
- Check if there are nails and use the back end of a hammer to remove them.
The process of removing old carpet from a wood can be particularly problematic when dealing with old carpet adhesives.
You will breathe a sigh of relief after removing the carpet from the wood but the glue remnants from your old carpet can leave a sticky, unsightly, dirty surface.
This means that you have to remove the glue for you to fully enjoy the beauty of your newly-discovered hardwood floors.
How to Remove Carpet Glue from Wood
Carpet adhesive or glue is tough and difficult to remove. The option you choose depends on the type of glue used.
Since a carpet adhesive is applied in liquid state, taking it back from a dried to a liquid state for easy removal is your best bet.
Things you’ll need
- Plastic Putty knife
- Heat gun/Blow drier
- Face mask and gloves
- Acetone or mineral spirits
- Carpet adhesive remover
- Low-grit sandpaper
- Sponge and old towels/rags
- Clear the room and ensure there is proper air ventilation. Put on your protective gear (face mask and gloves) and assemble your tools, including solvents and carpet adhesive remover.
- Using a putty knife, try to remove the glue as much as you can without scratching the wood. Do not worry: If none of the adhesive is coming out, go to the next step.
- Get a damp towel and cover the adhesive. Next, apply some heat using a blow drier or heat gun. This will soften the glue and you can try again to scrape it away using a putty knife.
- To remove the remaining glue from wood, apply a solvent such as acetone or mineral spirit and let it sit on the adhesive for 30 minutes before dislodging the glue with a putty knife. Before using the solvent on the entire floor, test it on a small area. Although this may seem an easy method, solvents carry the risk of discoloring or damaging wood. Be sure to read and follow the instructions when using it.
- Some types of adhesives may be too resistant to remove with a solvent. You may have to apply a formulated carpet adhesive remover to completely get rid of the glue. Read the directions on how to use the product before you proceed.
- Wipe off the dissolved glue using a sponge and sand the wood with a low-grit sandpaper to remove any remaining traces of the glue.
Restoring Hardwood Floors after Carpet
After removing the carpet, you may find that the wood is in decent shape, damaged, or somewhere in between.
If you are lucky to find the wood in perfect shape, the restoration process will be simple and fast. A thorough cleaning and application of a restoration polish will be enough.
Sometimes, removing a carpet exposes a badly damaged hardwood floor that may require an expert to bring it back.
In such a scenario, wood sanding and refinishing may be necessary or the damaged boards may need to be replaced. This will be an involved or costly affair.
So, before you rip up the carpet, you should be prepared for any outcome. However, in many cases, wood under the carpet will be in perfect condition.
After removing the carpet, padding and all other debris from the floor, here is what to do to bring back to life your wood.
- Sweep up any mess and dirt using a broom or vacuum to get rid of all dust and debris. You may use a soft bristle broom or a vacuum without a beater bar to avoid scratching or denting the floor.
- Give the floor a thorough mopping using a hardwood floor cleaner such as Bona. This is also a critical stage where you should avoid leaving the cleaner or water pooling on the unfinished wooden floor. Wood is a highly absorbent material that gets damaged when exposed to liquids.
- Shine the floor with a hardwood floor polish and restorer and a microfiber cloth or sponge mop. Weiman High Traffic Hardwood Floor Polish & Restorer or Bona floor polish are good to use.
- Reattach the baseboards and enjoy your recovered hardwood flooring.
After restoration, you’ll want to figure out how you can care for your hardwood floor so that it can last many years without any problems.
Your floors can remain beautiful and help your home maintain its value if you regularly clean your floor and prevent scratches, dents, and liquid spills — and, when necessary, lovingly sand and refinish the wood.