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Removing Carpet & Refinishing Wood Floors (Part 1)

By Classy Clutter on Jul 17, 2012
Today I'm going to teach ya'll how to pull up carpet and refinish those gorgeous wood floors that may be hiding under your carpet. This is a project I've wanted to tackle for a while and recently got the "go ahead!" from our landlords. Let's be real, kids are hard on carpet. Carpet is great but there are always areas that just don't hold up well in those high traffic areas. That was definitely holding true in our living room area and the main hallway of our home. 

Living+Room_1.jpg Here's a shot of our living room with the carpet. 

I'm going to take you through how WE did the process and I'll try to show you a cost breakdown the best I can so you can budget for your remodeling project!

First, the hubby vacuumed the carpet and we started at one end and pulled it up and rolled it in a giant roll. Next, you'll do the same thing with the carpet pad. The carpet pad was not glued down as it is in some homes, but it was stapled to the wood flooring in various places. So, we removed the carpet tack strips and the million staples that held the pad in place! 

Do you see all that paint on the floor? It looked like the people who renovated the house knew they were going to lay carpet down after they painted the room because there was pretty much just random paint splatters everywhere. Even along the baseboards. Boo!


We will need to get all that paint and old stain and poly off of the old floors. I didn't want the rest of our house covered in dust so we used clear plastic drop cloths (from the dollar store) to tape off the open hallway to the rest of the house.
Next, comes the crazy part. Sand. Sand. Sand. Sand. Sand. 

You will need to rent a drum sander for this step. Using a drum sander (you can rent these for between $30-50 from Home Depot depending on your store and how long you need it for.) We rented it for 4 hours and it was plenty of time to sand our living room and hallway. It took about 3 hours. You may need to rent for the full day if you have a larger space.
When you use the drum sander, you will want to buy 3 different grits of sand paper; coarse, medium and fine grits. Start with coarse and remove all of the old stuff exposing the bare wood. Then, you'll run the medium and fine sand paper over the bare wood to smooth it all. You want to get it very smooth and clean looking so that you can apply the new stain and polyurethane and get a pretty finish. To give you an idea, we used 2 coarse, 1 medium and 1 fine grit sand paper sheet for the drum sander. The sand paper sheets each cost about $8 each so don't forget to add that into your budget for this project. Your floor should look like this now. 

You can see there is a few inches of stain left on the outer perimeter of the flooring. This is where the drum sander could not reach so you will have to use another tool. There is a tool you can rent (for $20-40) called an "Edger" sander and it is designed to do just that. However, I have an orbital sander so I opted to use that to save a few dollars.

This is the one I have and you can get it at Home Depot for $30 so I don't really recommend renting the edger because this did the job just fine and then you get to keep the sander! However, because I did not use the "Edger" you can rent, I have no frame of reference. I'm not sure if it does a quicker or better job so you may want to experiment. That being said, I used 8 total coarse sand paper discs and 2 fine sand paper disks (which was $15 worth of sandpaper). 


Chances are you aren't dealing with the paint splatter issues that we were but just in case, using a putty knife to reach the areas you could not reach with the sander is a great way to remove any old paint splatters or gunk from the wood. 

Finally, we have a stripped, sanded, smooth, clean floor ready to stain and seal! YAY! 


WHEW!!!! Part 1 was quite the lengthy post but I hope I could help you tackle your carpet removal and prep work for refinishing wood flooring.

See you tomorrow for Part 2: Stain, Seal, REVEAL! Can't wait to show you!
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