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.

Before ripping up the carpet check, by pulling a corner 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.

The floorboards may need a clean, some paint to be removed around the edges. It will probably date back to the days before fitted carpets. When folks painted 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

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 some painter's and decorator's tips.

First you will need to remove the old dusty carpet. One real benefit will be it is healthier, no dust mites and much easier to clean up spills, Red wine, Curry, Etc.

Best way to take up the old carpet.

How to remove the old carpet.

This is the easiest way to remove the old carpet.

No need to move furniture at this stage. Using a sharp Stanley knife cut the carpet and underlay into two foot wide strips. Start at 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. A good time saving and dust reducing idea if you can, is to throw the strips of carpet straight out of the window nearest to the skip. Saves carrying the dusty stuff through the house.

Cleaning and preparing the 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 furniture from the room.

If you haven't already done so remove the spiky metal strips that fastened the carpet to the floor. Use a chisel and hammer to lever them off being 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 here. Use a product that is low foaming and is also a general detergent with a neutral pH level. That could be used in automatic scrubbers and will remove dirt and protect the polish. However, once you have loosened any stubborn build up of dirt, washing up liquid works just as well.

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 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 levelling 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. 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.


Sanding the floor boards

Badly marked, chipped varnish or the wrong colour 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 Floor by replacing the skirting boards.