How to take up the old carpet and go back to floor boards DIY tips

What's under your carpet? If your house was built in the 30s or before, probably a good wooden floor

What's under your carpet? 

Back to wood 
Before ripping up the carpet check a corner by pulling  a bit up. You can always put it down again if you are disappointed, but my guess is you will be thrilled with what you find,  real wooden floor boards. 

They may need a bit of cleaning, some paint to remove around the edges because it dates back to the olden days before fitted carpets when folks used to paint around the edge of the rug or carpet that sat in the middle of the room.

Floor boards hidden under the carpet
Floor boards hidden under the carpet

Don't be put of if it needs cleaning, 

Providing the floor hasn't got woodworm, too many damaged floor boards or very wide gaps between the floor boards (unlikely, cowboy builders were almost unknown in olden days) it's not a difficult job and I have included a few painter's and decorator's tips.

First you will need to remove the old dusty carpet (one real benefit is its healthier, no dust mites and much easier to clean up spills, Red wine, Curry.....)

Best way to Take up the old carpet.

This is how to take up the old carpet.

No need to clear the room of furniture and clutter at this stage. Using a sharp Stanley knife cut the carpet and underlay into strips, start the end furthest from the door and as you pull up the strips move your furniture and clutter onto the clear floor and work through the room.

The strips of carpet will be light enough to handle, good idea if you can to shove them straight out of the window, nearer to the skip.

Cleaning and preparing the floor boards.

Cleaning and preparing old floor boards.

Providing you are happy with the colour and they haven't been varnished, you won't need to use a sanding machine, so won't have to clear your clutter from the room.

If you haven't already done so you will need to remove the strips of spiky metal used to hold the carpet, use a chisel and hammer to lever them off. Be careful not to mark the floor boards and skirting boards.

Stripping the paint from the floor boards.

Floor stripper or other products that are ammonia-free, fast acting and detergent-enhanced (allowing the chemicals to strip efficiently without harming the floor) are good product choices. Quality strippers will also be easy to use and won't require use of abrasive pads or brushes. They will have a high solid content for increased protection of the floor surface. Nitromore or a similar paint stripper also works well. READ THE LABEL.

Cleaning the floorboards.

There are too many floor detergent and cleaners to list, look for a product that is low foaming and a general detergent that may be used in automatic scrubbers, with a neutral pH level that will remove dirt and protect the polish, but once you have loosened any stubborn build up of dirt, washing up liquid works as well as most. 

Be careful not to flood the floor, water is woods worse enemy. Read the instructions on the container, but in general apply with a sponge mop and mop up excess detergent and water. Rinse with clean, warm water to remove all residues since any detergent film remaining will cause stickiness and trap dirt.

Polishing your floorboards.

Once the floor is  cleaned, apply a light coat of polish to restore its lustre. Most polishes contain high-performance acrylics and a high solid percentage. High solids allow for easy application, and good leveling and buffing results, and dry bright without buffing. For best results read the label for tips on applying the wood floor polish.

Looking after your new Board Floor.

Old wood flooring is very durable, but needs a bit of care. A light daily sweeping, dust mopping or vacuuming will prevent dirt and grit from being ground into the floor and a light weekly clean with a damp mop should be enough to remove all the dirt.  Buffing over will remove most scuff marks and light scratches and add lustre while dislodging dirt and blending touch-up spots.
If you like what you see, you've finished,   BUT!!   if not, move to the next step.

Badly marked, chipped varnish or you don't like the colour of your floor boards.

The floor can be returned it to its original beauty. It seems a major job and is a messy dusty job, but if you have the time, refurbishing your floor can be done yourself in about four days,  

Remove everything including the furniture, rugs, clutter etc. Also remove the skirting boards. Save them to  put  back on when you are finished sanding.

Check the floor for  protruding nails and loose or squeaky floor boards.  The nails can be tapped in or pulled out. Loose floor boards should be screwed tight. Make sure you screw next to the original nails to ensure you screw into a joist and not a water pipe.

Use a drum sander with coarse sandpaper to remove the original finish, sanding with the grain, overlapping areas you have already sanded on each pass. Use a finer grade of sandpaper to finish off. You will need a floor edger for nearer the walls and on stairs and a hand sander for corners.
Clean the floor of any dirt or sawdust with a vacuum cleaner. Once the floor is smooth and free of debris put on one layer of penetrating sealer, you can normally apply the second coat 24 hours later and wax or polish a few days later, but once again read the maker's instructions as wood polishes and waxes vary. 

 Now finish the job on your new Board Floor by replacing the skirting boards.