How to Replace Carpet With Hardwood

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

If you have outdated, stained or musty carpeting, it may be time for a new look. Replacing carpet with hardwood can be a great choice, as it is easy to clean and maintain. In addition, hardwood floors are better for allergy sufferers.


How to Replace Carpet With Hardwood
Image Credit: Asergieiev/iStock/GettyImages

Video of the Day

How to Remove Carpet

The first step in replacing your carpet with hardwood is removing the old carpet. Move all the furniture and personal items out of the room you will be renovating. Remove any carpet transition strips, which are the metal strips nailed or screwed down in a doorway.


Try to pull the carpeting back starting in one corner of the room. You may find that the rug has tack strips around the room's perimeter. Depending on the age and thickness of the rug, pulling firmly may be enough to remove the rug. If not, you can use a rug cutter, a type of safety razor, to cut a small square out of the corner of the carpet. You should be able to cut the rug and pull it away from the wall from this empty space.

While using a safety razor or rug cutter, always take care to keep the blade pointed towards the floor and away from your body. Close or cover the blade when it is not in use. Keep all sharp objects such as razors or rug cutters out of the reach of children. Additionally, since blades become dull with use, it can be harder to make cuts, which can lead to injury. Change out your blade frequently to prevent this sort of issue.


If there is a rug pad underneath your carpet, you will need to pull that away, as well. If the rug pad is old, it may disintegrate as you remove it. Have a large garbage bag ready for debris.

Once you have removed the rug, you will need to remove the staples or tack strips from the room's perimeter. Needle-nosed pliers work well for the removal process.

After removing the carpet, rug pad and staples or tacks, sweep the floor to clear it of debris and sharp objects. Then, vacuum thoroughly to prepare the room for hardwood installation.


What Are the Differences Between Solid Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood?

You cut and cover a single plank of wood with a clear protective layer to make solid wood boards. Hardwood is usually 3/4 of an inch, which means that you are able to sand and refinish it multiple times over the course of the life of the floor.

Hardwood floors are subject to the relative humidity of your home, so you should leave space around the edge of the room for expansion and contraction. In most instances, you nail hardwood to the subfloor. Once you install the floor, therefore, you will not be able to remove it without damaging the wood planks.


Engineered hardwood has many wooden planks bonded together using high levels of heat. The top layer of a piece of engineered hardwood is usually made of a higher quality than the lower ones, which are typically plywood or a combination of recycled wood pieces mixed with stone dust.

Humidity does not impact engineered hardwood as heavily as it does traditional hardwood planks, so it is a great option for moist areas like bathrooms, kitchens or laundry rooms. In many cases, pieces of engineered hardwood interlock with one another for easier installation. You do not attach it directly to the subfloor, but instead place it over a moisture barrier that sits on the subfloor.


How to Install Solid Hardwood

You may install solid hardwood over any kind of subfloor, as long as it is 3/4 of an inch thick. If your subfloor is only one layer of plywood, adding another layer will strengthen the subfloor.

Remove any molding from the perimeter of the room. Sweep or vacuum once again to ensure there is no lingering debris. Next, install a vapor barrier over the subfloor. Tar paper is best if the room is humid. Red rosin paper will reduce squeaking. Overlap the edges of the vapor barrier by at least four inches.


Lay out your solid hardwood planks. Leave at least a 1/2-inch gap between the edge of your wall and the new flooring. Mix planks of different sizes and colors to avoid any noticeable variations.

Use a drill to create pilot holes in your hardwood planks. This will help to avoid splitting the wood. Then, use nails to attach your hardwood to the vapor barrier and subfloor.

How to Install Engineered Hardwood

To install engineered hardwood, you will need to follow the preparation steps as outlined above in the solid hardwood instructions. Engineered planks have a greater chance of color variation, so open multiple boxes before getting started to mix up boards and avoid color-blocked sections.


Engineered hardwood planks usually fit together via a locking mechanism. Start the first row with the tongue side facing the wall and the groove side facing the room. Use a power stapler to attach the planks to the floor. Stagger plank lengths so that the seams do not line up. When you reach the far side of the room, you may need to use nails if your staple gun does not fit in the gap between the boards and the wall.



Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.