How to Tear up Carpet & Restore Hardwood Flooring


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.

Carpete living room
(Joe Gough/iStock/Getty Images)

Things You'll Need

  • Small garbage dumpster
  • Standard screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Floor sander
  • Heavy-, medium- and fine-grit floor-sander pads
  • Dust mask
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • 2 roller paintbrushes with paint pans
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane
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.

Wood floors under carpet
Natalia Lukiyanova/iStock/Getty Images
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.

Tools on floor
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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.

Man holding power sander
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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.

Cleaning floors of house
TomasSereda/iStock/Getty Images
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.

Paint brush with wood stain
Du?an Kosti?/iStock/Getty Images
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.

Coating floor with polyurethane
Imagemakers_Creative_Studio/iStock/Getty Images

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Tips & Warnings

  • When applying stain and polyurethane coats, position floor fans or open windows to ensure no build-up of fumes and proper ventilation.


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