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Taking up carpet to reveal wood floors - how hard can it be...?

(36 Posts)
DancingLady Thu 09-Jan-14 15:21:20

Ground floor of our house is carpeted in pale cream (previous owners' choice). After two years of living here, it's looking horrible - stained, grey, really dirty, and I've always wanted wood floors anyway. We have a short hallway and two smallish reception rooms, and want to take up the carpet and have wood floors in these areas. Has anyone done this, and was it more nightmarish than you'd expected?

To my mind, what happens is: we take up the carpet, dispose of it. Clean and possibly sand (by hand) wood floors. Put down some rugs. TA DA!

Am I being impossibly naive?

Pootles2010 Thu 09-Jan-14 15:22:40

Is it definitely wood underneath?

PigletJohn Thu 09-Jan-14 15:43:10

if you have bare floorboards, the room will not just get noisier (presumably you have no downstairs neighbours who will kill you?) it will also get a lot colder and draughtier.

Best option is to lift the floor and insulate between the joists, this will take some days work. It can be DIY or you can get a carpenter to lift and refix the boards without breaking very many. You are sure to have some damaged boards that need replacing.

MelanieCheeks Thu 09-Jan-14 15:46:38

You need to see what condition the floorboards are in underneath - there may be too many cuts and damaged planks just to varnish.

BUT it's dead easy to lay new floorboards over them. Well, I say dead easy, it's a bit of manual work, you may need to pay someone to do it, but the results will be way better than old varnished boards. Much less draughty too.

offblackeggshell Thu 09-Jan-14 15:48:37

You might want to check the condition of the floorboards right through that area before you commit. We did have one once where we'd only check one end, and found chipboard at the other end.

That said, even with the extra draughts, and the work of varnishing or painting, it does look lovely. You can get draught proofer to fit between the boards from above, but it can still (just) be seen. I'm afraid I don't remember what it was called, or where we got it from.

You can hire a heavy sander for the weekend, or get someone in to do it.

Tabby1963 Thu 09-Jan-14 15:51:45

Check out YouTube for tutorials for doing it yourself with regards to repairing and/or preparing wooden floors. Be prepared for some hard physical work!

TheZeeTeam Thu 09-Jan-14 15:54:03

It really depends. I pulled the carpet up here and didn't even need to sand the floors. They just needed a really good clean and oiling.

The floorboards in our Victorian terrace were another story entirely. That was an ugly, long and messy job.

ghostinthecanvas Thu 09-Jan-14 15:59:21

We did this. Existing wooden floors were in good condition but covered in a horrible brown varnish. Smelled like creosote. There was a couple of boards cut for plumbing. House is 100 years old and the boards were tongue and groove so draughts only where boards had been cut. Scraped and hand sanded cos of the finish. Large rug. Ta Da! Was easier than we though as we were lucky with the boards. We also didn't sand much of as we liked the darker colour of the boards.

littlecrystal Thu 09-Jan-14 16:13:34

We tried to do this in our bedroom on the 1st floor but once the carpet was removed we saw the downligthers in the hallway ceiling happily shone through the bedroom floor up. Basicaly we had underfloor lighting where the hallway was. Needless to say that I happily covered the floor t with laminate flooring.

My ground floor was all floorboards; living room is cold and draughty to stand on but looks nice; hallway looks nice but varnish gets scrapped by dirty shoes easily; kitchen floorboards are too thin (something to think of before sanding) and we happily covered them with vinyl flooring.

Good luck in your discoveries.

littlecrystal Thu 09-Jan-14 16:15:09

* did I repeat the word "happily" three times? Oh dear I must be feeling very "happy" today.

DancingLady Thu 09-Jan-14 17:13:22

So the general consensus is that it's a crapshoot smile

I don't think we have the DIY skills or the patience to do it ourselves, so would probably get someone in to insulate between joists (as Piglet said - already quite a lot of noise travels from living rooms to basement kitchen) and sand/varnish if needed. I have no idea what condition the floors are in, the carpet is very well-fitted and there are no loose corners to pull up. And, as offblack said, it could be fine at one end and a mess further along.

How much would you expect to pay to have two (smallish) rooms and a very small hallway done? In London, btw.

AngieM2 Thu 09-Jan-14 17:34:46

We had ours done for us. Sanded, gaps filled with a mixture of the sanded bits and danish oiled. Takes about 1-2 days and about £600 for a (very) large Victorian house room. It looks lovely but Danish oil not very hard wearing, hard varnished may be better. BUT, think carefully, we have a large double sided cellar beneath our rooms with coal hole thingies at the front and it can be very very draughty and thats with the gaps filled and celotex insulation panels in the cellar joists.

PigletJohn Thu 09-Jan-14 19:27:03

if you have a basement, noise insulation will be especially important. You can get dense mineral wool batts, which are heavier than loft insulation so better at deadening airbourne sound. They are still soft and squashy enough to squeeze tightly between the joists and leave no gaps (the rigid boards are more difficult to make a perfect fit)

I would be very tempted to hire a canister vac and hoover the space under the floor, it is probably very dirty.

I had a floorboard safe fitted last time I had a new floor done, easy and a good time to do it.

Try to have the boards above any pipes or cables fixed with countersunk screws, not nails. The fitter will prefer nails because they are quicker, but it's not him that will have to deal with any future work.

Coconutfeet Thu 09-Jan-14 22:00:01

Bear in mind that the skirting may have been fitted to allow for a carpet so when you lift the carpet there could be a huge gap between the sitting and the boards. We had this when we lifted ours and had to drop the skirting to stop the draughts.

We're in London and paid £700 for a very large knocked-through room and hallway to be sanded, gaps filled and varnished. I got several quotes and they were all very similar.

PigletJohn Thu 09-Jan-14 22:18:18

If you are putting in mineral wool quilt, push it well into the edges, and it will stuff the gap and block draughts.

DIddled Thu 09-Jan-14 22:58:56

My DH did ours ( 30s semi and original boards) about 7 years ago. They weren't perfect to start with and he is not a DIYer- however he had a go.Hired a sander- sanded, then stained ( you need to go careful here and I can recommend a completely brilliant advice site which is free is you are interested- as the stain makes or breaks the floor). However the Ultimate insider tip is to use Bona Mega floor varnish. It's absolutely brilliant- worth every penny and it's not extortionate anyway. Our floor has been hammered to death by two dogs, kids, wild parties and a major building programme and you know what? It's not in mint condition but it's pretty good all things considered- we just mop it and that's it. Don't waste money on any of the high street brands. I recommended it to my friend at work and she was delighted with the result.

A word of advice- if you google get the spelling right and don't type in Mega Boner- you might get a shock smile. - hee hee

MummytoMog Thu 09-Jan-14 23:49:00

We just lifted out carpet, pulled out nails etc then painted. Took a couple of days and was very cheap, but very draughty. Have since put stopgap in, which helps a bit, but are planning to lay a wood floor over the top as soon as we can afford it/I see another cheap job lot of second hand flooring on eBay.

MummytoMog Thu 09-Jan-14 23:49:27

Looks nice though, and we will keep the painted boards upstairs.

DancingLady Fri 10-Jan-14 15:52:37

Thanks for all the replies - a lot to think about. We can't afford 600-700 so may need to DIY. Just worried as I think that once the carpet is up, that's it! Can't put it back down if the floor is shocking.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 10-Jan-14 15:58:42

Hello OP

You will also get more dust and if you are going to varnish it can mean several days of having to leave the room unoccupied.
We were going to do this but have a cellar where the electrics run throughout the floor so no go for us as we couldn't insulate.
They do look lovely though, but ours are cold without insulation.

Also, we made the mistake then of deciding to strip all the paint from the oak doors, skirting etc and it took for ever.
It's one of those jobs where you need to know when to leave it grin

ghostinthecanvas Fri 10-Jan-14 16:18:15

You can put it back down. If you can't get a neat finish, get a fitter in. Won't be too expensive. Especially if you are anything like me and you want to know what's under there.

Dollydishus Fri 10-Jan-14 16:20:08

We did ours ourselves. Took up cruddy carpets throughout house, sanded, filled between boards and varnished. Looks great (but we aren't very house proud) we have quite a low key look to our house....homemade curtains, old sofa with a throw, inherited old rugs etc. if you want a very modern, very swish look you'd need a professional in I expect. We hired a sander cheaply and did it in about 3 days. Very dusty though. I still love it 15 years later as it's so easy to keep clean...quick Hoover, then damp mop, comes up like new. Much fresher than carpet.

peggyundercrackers Fri 10-Jan-14 16:42:59

we took the carpets up in our house expecting to varnish the floors but the floorbaords were really bad, we ended up putting carpets back down. as others have said the floorboards can be really drafty and noisey. if you are going to sand the floor with an industrial sander make sure you remove all the nails/screws from the floorbaords first or you will rip sanding paper to shreds.

cafesociety Fri 10-Jan-14 20:10:42

I have a 1950's 3 bed bungalow and took up the carpet when I moved in as they were old and past it.

The floorboards underneath are great, wide ones and in good condition. I had a quote for sanding and oiling which was extortionate, time consuming and would be very messy and disruptive.

I decided to paint the floor white throughout the whole place and it looks lovely, so fresh, clean and light. Everyone who comes here remarks on it as soon as they come into the hall and see white flooring throughout. Rugs are in cosy areas. Best thing I could have done and very cheap to do!

DancingLady Fri 10-Jan-14 20:57:18

Thanks for the replies. Dolly we don't have a swish home, so 'good enough' would be great - don't need it looking perfect.

cafe I like the idea of painted floors, but do you have white walls too? And what's your decor style like? I think white floors work with shabby chic but our stuff is mostly mid-century and ikea and a bit cluttered... Also, doesn't the paint scuff like a bastard? Like, as soon as someone with shoes walks over it?

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