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How to Remove Old Carpet Backing from Hardwood Floor

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Iowa where Kathy is on the line with a flooring question.

    Kathy, how can we help you with your project?

    KATHY: Well, my son is purchasing his first home and the home was built back in 1930. And the carpet that is in the home is newer carpet but the owner was a heavy smoker. And we are going to have to pull the carpet out and we found that the backing that is underneath of it is probably original carpet padding from 30, 40 years ago. And it’s adhered to the wood floors.

    TOM: And they’re like hardwood floors?

    KATHY: They are hardwood below, yes.

    TOM: OK. So a couple of things. First of all, you need to pull the carpet up, you need to pull the tackless up. That’s the nail strips that hold it down. You’re going to have to scrape up the old padding that’s sticking to the floor as best you can. And you would use floor scrapers for that or a paint scraper for that or even sometimes a spackle knife or a putty knife will work. And then you’re going to have to refinish that floor.

    Now, if some of the pad sticks to it, if you really can’t get it clean, then I would use – and actually, I would hire somebody to do this, because sanding a hardwood floor is a tricky business if you’ve not worked with the equipment before, because you can easily ruin the floor. The belt sanders that the professional floor finishers use for these are very heavy and hard to maneuver and they take a lot of material off very quickly. So if you don’t know how to handle it, you can dig through the floor, you know, before you know it and you’ve ruined it.

    KATHY: Yeah. I don’t even know if the floor below is salvageable or what condition or type of wood – hardwood flooring – it is.

    TOM: Well, you may find that it is salvageable. Very often, those old homes had good-quality flooring underneath and then the first thing people did was put carpet over it, which made for a great drop cloth in the last 80, 90 years. So you may find it’s in good shape.

    You might also find that it’s not oak but Douglas fir, which is equally beautiful although it’s a bit softer. But in either event, have the floor sanded professionally. If you can restore them, I think you’ll be very happy with the results.

    KATHY: OK. Well, thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Kathy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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