The big push toward wall-to-wall carpeting was a homeowner trend that took off in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. New technologies in color and fabric options made hues and textures more exciting. If you are of a certain age, surely you remember lounging around on a shag rug in front of the TV (with no remote!). But if your family had that carpeting for a long time, you can probably recall the pilling, and rubbed over spots that those rugs eventually suffered.
Since people have become more savvy about home ownership (and sales) they have come to see the appeal of having their floors be bare when getting prepared for a sale. The theory is that hardwood floors are neutral and allow a potential buyer more versatility. It’s important to let the buyer imagine their new life in a sale property and hardwood floors offer that space for imagination.
The process of changing your floors from faded weave and threadbare carpet to gleaming hardwood can be an arduous one, but can be done relatively simply by a homeowner with only limited technical skill. At the very least, if you want to hire a professional, you can make the work easier, and cheaper, by doing the clearing away part yourself.
Ultimately step-by-step process is easy to follow (provided there are hardwoods lingering under your carpet, of course).
Step 1: Cutting up rugs
Get a tool specific for this job – a carpet cutter – and do not just use an exacto-knife or you risk scratching the floor up pretty badly. Make sure you cut the carpeting in strips so it’s easier to dispose of. If you have nice and tidy bundles, you should be able to put it out on the curb with no issue. One suggestion is to get a comfortable set of knee pads and a mask to protect you from the floor staples as well as the dust that has likely collected under the carpeting.
Step 2: Pulling up staples
Again there is a specific carpet staple removal tool for this that works well – small chisels can do the trick too and you’ll want a superbar on hand to get edge pieces up.
Step 3: Sanding the floor
Renting an orbital sander is not too costly. Make sure you sand with the grain of the wood and investigate the grades of sandpaper you need. While a reasonably savvy DIYer can do this, it is also possible that you will ruin your floor if you try to accomplish this yourself. There’s no shame in hiring a professional for this work.
Step 4: Staining
Get a paintbrush or cloth and apply stain along with the grain of the wood, stirring the stain every 10 minutes or so to prevent separating and to keep color consistent. You will need at least 2 coats, depending on the stain color. Make sure to let the stain dry between coats too.
Step 5: Finishing
When you are ready to apply finishing material, start with the perimeter for about a foot or so working in the direction of the wood grain. Using a lamb’s wool applicator, continue with application, but make sure you map out your exit strategy, you can’t step on the polyurethane and it will likely take around 24 hours to dry. And, check on what you are using because, depending on the product, you may need to sand quickly between coats of polyurethane.
Keeping your floors shining like new
It’s inevitable that the first thing that happens on your new floor will be that a child spills or a dog tracks something on it and makes a huge mess. Learning how to clean your hardwood floors should be easy, but if you don’t know what products to use, be wary.
- Test first: Usually gentle soap and water is good for any small stains, sometimes vinegar can help, but don’t do anything without testing a small out of the way area first to make sure your cleaning regimen doesn’t take some of the luster off of your flooring.
- Don’t get your floors too wet: Keep any mops you use damp, but not soaked.
- Work quickly: Try not to let the soap dry before you rinse.
- Protect yourself: Get a strong bristled welcome mat and perhaps encourage people to remove their shoes when entering.
There are many tips to keeping your flooring looking like new when going through the sales process. The result will be a great deal of ROI. Experts indicate that there is a 70-80% return on hardwood floor projects. So that should be more than enough incentive for to the hard work this project requires.
Guest Writer: Sarah Archer
Content and PR Manager
Sarah’s a writer who’s passionate about evaluating everyday home products to help consumers save time and money. When she’s not putting a product’s promise to the test, you’ll find her hiking a local trail or collecting new stamps in her passport.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge Sarah!