The day I’ve been waiting for! And the day the dog has been dreading (he really loves sleeping on carpet).
Carpet removal, yo! We’re about 4 months behind where we expected we’d be with these floors, at least when you consider that removing the carpeting was something that we planned to do before we moved into the house. It’s our fault, we believed everyone (the seller, the realtor, and our own gut) when we were told that oak hardwoods ran throughout the house (and peeked in enough corners to confirm this, so we thought). Come to find, only the bedrooms are hardwood, the rest of the house–the hallway, living room, dining room–is carpet covering subfloor. It still seems completely backwards in our minds, the fact that they would keep private rooms pretty hardwoods and make the main living areas plush carpeting. And so, with no consistency in the hardwoods and a need to come up with a Plan B, we left the carpeting in place, cued the tears, and tried not to feel a little duped.
New flooring wasn’t an expense that we had originally expected to incur to have the house that we envisioned, we’d have been 100% happy with oak floors like the ones in the last house, but the decision to install new hardwoods was quickly realized as the ideal solution. We started window shopping for floors over the summer, narrowing down the types that we liked, eventually finding ourselves at Lumber Liquidators to price out mass quantities of several different styles. We finally got the courage and means to place our order about two weeks ago (and true story, I was able to obtain Pro Pricing rates on the materials because I asked, which saved a good amount off the list price). Today, our 5″ natural maple floorboards are going to arrive at home. I have no idea where we’re going to store 1,850 sq. ft. of the stuff, but I’m ready for the challenge.
In anticipation of today, we finally got down and started removing the carpet. A lot of thought has gone into what order we do the carpet removal and flooring install (from room to room, I mean), because we want to keep it as comfortable as we can for as long as we can so we don’t spend months walking on plywood or dealing with a construction zone-like house when we’re about to bring home a baby. We had to start somewhere, so we decided to make an effort to clear the still un-adorned nursery – an easy choice because there wasn’t a lot to move out and we could get started pretty quickly. To note, most everything we’ve bought and received (short of the crib, which my Mom insisted on having set up for our shower) has been stored away in airtight containers, having considered months ago that removing carpet might lift a lot of dust. I can’t wait to get it back out and poke through it again, I’m nesting.
We found the seam in the carpet in the doorway, and decided to slice and dice the carpet up from there.
Renting a dumpster had been our #1 plan since we just replaced the barn roof and made a big ol’ mess, but once we realized how manageable it was to cut the carpet into <4-foot strips, we knew that the garbage pickup would be able to manage a lot of this debris, so we decided use that service for as long as we can since we’re paying for it anyways. The scrap from the barn roof will be discarded of similarly over time, or the wood burned in a mammoth backyard campfire.
Wielding a utility knife and slicing the carpet is a surprisingly simple job, so easy that a very pregnant girl can do it, and you know how eager I’ve been do participate in demo when possible. I left it up to Pete to carry the remnants out of the room, and took care of the underlaying foam and staple removal myself.
The room was immediately transforming. Once again like with what I experienced in my first house, I couldn’t believe that people would pay to cover up hardwoods with wall to wall carpeting. These were magnificent, beautiful, and actually appear to have received a reddish stain at some point which made them exceptionally pretty, less yellow-y like most natural oak.
The impact of the flooring became greater with every piece that was removed, right up until we had a cleared, beautiful, tack-strip free room to admire. And I was right, the reflection of the light on the hardwoods is going to make a big difference in the natural brightness of this room, even if part of it does get covered with an area rug.
I love a good before + after, so here you have it:
We admired the beautiful oak for about 5 minutes, and then the pain set in. In order to prepare the existing surface for new hardwoods, we had been advised to completely remove the pretty oak flooring. It’s a debatable topic, even Josh Temple says it’s OK to leave existing hardwoods beneath new, but we wanted a good, solid, non-squeaky surface to be working on. In my/our experience (even in this house), boards are inclined to loosen (both the subfloor against the joists, and the floorboards on top of the subfloor) with weight and wear, and because we want to do everything solidly, awesomely, totally right to last the long haul in this home, we went about taking out the beautiful oak.
We started in the closet, prying up each board piece by piece.
And if you could say that hardwoods were ever removed with love and care, that’s just what happened. We all participated (willingly).
There’s some underlying motivation to being so neat and tidy about this whole removal: we’re hoping to sell some if not all of it and offset the cost of our new flooring job just a bit. It wasn’t too hard to be careful, because once you get the hang of loosening the board with a prybar and yanking up on it to free the nails, it actually goes pretty quickly and you get a good sense of how much natural flex the boards have to them (they aren’t as likely to snap as you might think). It’s the nail removal that’s proving to take a long time; Pete’s dad worked for hours and ripped through about 10% of the boards, meaning that we still have plenty more to do (+ two more oak-filled bedrooms rooms that will need the same treatment). It’ll be a long, long process, but not a project that we need to rush on, and hopefully it’ll be worthwhile to someone who wants several hundred square feet of flooring for their own DIY floor overhaul. And to be honest, I’m willing to sell them with the nails in it, it’s Pete who wants them all free and clear and in perfect condition for sale.
With the flooring removed carefully, we’ve sorted the boards by length in the basement, and I began to remove the tar paper. It came up easily–as in, it wasn’t tacked down or sticky or anything–and rolling it proved effective at trapping every last loose nail and piece of dust to keep it from being a messy project.
Even spotted some notes from way back when penciled onto the underlaying boards, a friendly reminder that we too must leave some kind of notation of our family and efforts on these boards before the new ones go in.
Before we can actually lay the flooring and underlayment in here though, we’ll need to bring the floor up to level with the subfloor that runs through other parts of the house, which involves bringing home more subfloor to match the height of the hallway and the rest of the house. And so, the same general beginning to end process now needs to happen in every other room in our home, hopefully over the next few days while the new floors are acclimating indoors over the coming week.