How to Tear up Carpet & Restore Hardwood Flooring

By David McKinney

Perhaps the carpeting in your older home's living or family room has pet stains that can't come out. Or maybe you've just gotten tired of the rug's color and want to see what lies underneath. Either way, it may be time to tear up the carpet and restore the hardwood flooring. Be aware the project generates quite a bit of dust and could spread out over two or three days, but your ultimate reward will be a great-looking wood floor that enhances the beauty of your home.

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Carpete living room
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Wood floors under carpet

Step 1

Go to a corner of your carpeting and run a standard screwdriver between the edge of the wall and carpet. Pry up the carpet from the tacking strips underneath. Pull back the carpeting until the entire rug can be rolled up, removed from your home and placed in a dumpster. Pull up and dispose of the foam padding.

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Tools on floor

Step 2

Remove the carpet tacking strips, which may be nailed or stapled to the hardwood floor. Use your standard screwdriver to pry them from the floor. Use the pliers to pull up any staples that remain stuck in the floor. Dispose of tacking strips and any staples or nails that held the strips in place.

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Man holding power sander

Step 3

Secure heavy-grit sandpaper on the bottom of your power sander. Put on the dust mask. Inspect the floor for any overlooked nails or staples and remove them. Power up the power sander and begin a to-and-fro sanding motion along the direction of the wood grain, using heavy-grit sandpaper. Repeat the process with medium-grit paper. Use fine-grit paper over the floor as the final sanding step.

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Cleaning floors of house

Step 4

Sweep up and remove dust. Go over the floor with a vacuum cleaner and repeat as necessary so that floor is fully free of sandpaper dust or other dirty debris before refinishing the hardwood floor.

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Paint brush with wood stain

Step 5

Fill a paint pan with wood stain. Apply the stain uniformly to the floor with a roller brush, following the direction of the wood grain. Let the stain dry overnight once it has been applied to the full floor. Follow instructions on the stain container for proper disposal of the leftover stain and stain-covered brush.

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Coating floor with polyurethane

Step 6

Fill another clean paint pan with polyurethane. Apply a thin coat over the stained floor and let it dry overnight before moving furniture onto the hardwood floor. Dispose of the paint pan and brush by following the directions on the polyurethane can.