Slippery and Sticky – The Miserable Combo of Removing a Carpet from a Hardwood Floor

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Tweet, "baby boomers blame millennials for everything BUT WHO PUT CARPET OVER ALL THESE HARDWOOD FLOORS PATRICIA"
This.

I totally get it that styles change, but I don’t get how it’s possible to not LOVE hardwood floors! I have pretty bad allergies so carpets are my kryptonite, but even if that weren’t an issue, I love how easy they are to keep clean and how versatile they are! Heck, even if I decide I’m not about wood floors anymore, I can throw a carpet down – I can’t throw a wood floor over a carpet.

Plus, and I can’t stress this enough, wood floors don’t smell. They CAN I guess since they’re semi-porous, but not like carpet. When my husband and I bought our new house, every time we walked in we were struck by an awful odor which we eventually determined to be the old carpet. It had to go!

We peeled up one corner with fingers crossed and…

20190927_190753.jpg
There she is: the elusive hardwood floor

Woot! Hardwood!!

Now’s the easy part, right? Pull up the carpet, give the new floor a quick wash, and pull up any carpet tacks left over, easy!

My mother and I decided to tackle this project while my husband was in Canada on business, so the two of us

gingerly peeled

no that’s not right,

carefully tugged

that’s not right either…

FORCEFULLY MUSCLED a corner of the carpet up.

That’s right about when we realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as we’d hoped.

Like many carpets, this one was completely glued down. Not only did we have to battle the carpet to get it up, but then we had to battle the floor itself trying to make it walkable.

So, for those of you smart enough to do your research FIRST and not get stuck in a way stickier mess than you’d intended, here’s how we de-carpeted our mudroom.

before-and-after-mudroom-33
The ONLY difference between these two rooms is the missing carpet and the new rug for under the washer and dryer.

First, gather your materials:

  • Goo Gone – I learned a thing: there are different strengths of Goo Gone! Get the Pro Strength, and get a lot. You know how much you’re thinking right now? Get more. Besides, even if you don’t need it all it’s not like it won’t get used eventually.
  • Wallpaper scraper – THIS ONE!!! And just buy it on Amazon – they’re not sold anywhere else, I’ve looked. The only reason I had one is because my grandmother bought it a long, long time ago and we happened to find it. The one I linked is the most ergonomic design and I can’t for the life of me figure out why they’re not everywhere. Scraping up paint and glue is exhausting and really hard on the wrists. I can honestly say that my mother and I wouldn’t have been able to do this project in a weekend without this tool. 
  • Other scrapers – Regular metal scrapers work well for some things, too. We tried the plastic ones but they were way too weak to be helpful.
  • Razors – Just your regular, run-of-the-mill razors can be helpful to have on hand for tougher sticky things.
  • Utility knife – bonus, this comes with razor blades so you don’t need to buy more!
  • Scrub brush – This is perfect because you can just toss in the trash it when you’re done and you’re only out a dollar!
  • Scrub pad – This one has a handle so I highly recommend it. Like the scrub brush: buy, use, toss.
  • Junk Towels or rags – If you don’t have any junk towels, get yourself some cheap shop rags. You’ll need paper towels too but don’t rely on them!
  • Paper towels – I’ve got these guys on a monthly delivery with Amazon. I did my research, these are an excellent price!
  • A bucket – preferably a bucket you can throw out at the end of the project like the one linked here.
  • Krud Kutter – or any other grease cutting cleaner.
  • Plastic drop cloths – Waterproof is important.
  • Some tools – Just pull out your toolbox and keep it nearby. Some things we needed were a hammer to pull out the nails in the threshold covers and a flathead screwdriver to pry up the carpet tack strips in the doorways.

STEP 1: Pulling up the carpet

To get the carpet up, you’re gonna need some muscle. My mother and I would both pull, then she’d lightly tug it as I cut chunks off with the utility knife. We ended up with about 4 chunks of carpet in the end. 

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The picture is super blurry because I was trying to take it fast! We had to strain to keep the rug taut enough for a good cut.

Mom tripped onto the gooey wood floor and her socks immediately stuck so when she stumbled back, she stumbled right out of them!

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Not sure if the advice here is TO wear socks or NOT to wear socks…

One corner up!

20190927_192239
See the pup in the bottom righthand corner? Don’t let them get so close! She wandered onto the wood while we were focused on other things and cried as she unstuck herself to get back on the carpet… She spent the rest of the time locked in another room.

STEP 2: Goo Gone time!!

20190927_214213

At this point you have two options: spray the Goo Gone onto the wood in MASSIVE amounts then immediately begin to scrape and be done in a half hour, 

or,

spray the Goo Gone onto the wood in MASSIVE amounts then wait 15 minutes before you scrape, and still be done in a half hour.

Basically, be impatient and work much harder or be patient and reap the benefits.

Trust me – my mother and I tried both ways and we learned to be very, very patient.

Will Goo Gone ruin hardwood floors??

We did a lot of research on this (worried about the same thing) and everyone seemed to have roughly the same conclusion: it’s the best option. You might end up marring the finish, but the hardwood has been sitting under carpet for years anyway so the Goo Gone won’t damage it any more than it already is. We opted not to leave a thick coat of Goo Gone overnight, but we did just do a light wiping at the end of the day and leave a Goo Gone film on the floor overnight and it didn’t hurt anything.

STEP 3: Grossness layer one

20190928_195805
GROSS

This is layer one of what we scraped off the floor. It’s a mixture (we think) of carpet glue, Goo Gone, carpet padding, and probably some cat hair.

Again, that’s layer one.

STEP 4: Goo Gone time again!!

Yup, spray down that floor again and wait another 15ish minutes.

STEP 5: Grossness layer two

This is a two part step – one part scrub brush and one part scrub pad. These two work well together because the brush gets up bigger junk while the pad gets the smaller junk. 

Also have your razor blades and wallpaper scraper on hand. Scrub each section with the scrub brush, then go over it with the scraper again, and finish off with the scrub pad. By this point the floor should feel just kinda slippery, not sticky. If there’s sticky junk then scrape or brush it away!

20190929_163217.jpg

20190929_170717
See all this paint, too? The Goo Gone with scrubbers and razor took all that off!

STEP 6: Wash off the yuck!

Mix some Krud Kutter in some hot water and wash the floor with some rags. We tried sponges but they just spread the goo around so we don’t recommend it.

20190929_190223.jpg

Tips, Tricks, and Warnings:

  • Wear ruinable clothing. This may go without saying, but expect your clothes to get ruined with glue, Goo Gone, and even the potential razor blade scrape if your shirt is baggy…
  • Use a towel as a knee pad. Not only is hardwood not knee-friendly, but you can also use the towel so that you can kneel on the wood when it’s gross without grossing up your knees, meaning you don’t have to take a bunch of knee-cleaning breaks. 
  • Spread the tarp out in the hall/next room over and just toss gunky stuff onto it as you go. We made the mistake of using a sheet (not waterproof) and ended up having to clean the hall after.
  • Have paper towels on hand to clean off your scrapers as you go. If there’s gunk on your scraper, you’re just spreading the mess around. Give it a good wipe every once in a while.
  • DO NOT wash the rags/towels in your washing machine! Goo Gone is oil based so it will gunk up your washer like crazy and do even worse damage to the parts you don’t see (the pipes). Even if you think the towels aren’t too gross, wash them outside with Dawn soap and a hose BEFORE throwing them into your washer. 
  • DO NOT wash your tools in your sink/bathtub! Re: above. The massive amounts of Goo Gone will ruin your drains. Wash them in a bucket outside with Dawn or better yet, throw them out! At the end of this project, my incredibly frugal mother and I threw out the bucket, a bunch of razors, the scrub brush, the scrub pad, and a utility knife – they just weren’t worth cleaning.
  • Vacuum the rug first. We thought, “eh, why vacuum if we’re just gonna tear the rug up anyway?” Because then the dirt will get in the glue and you’ll be scraping up chunks of dirt with your glue, that’s why. Gross.
  • If you’re frustrated, spray with Goo Gone and walk away. 9 times out of 10 if we couldn’t get a spot of glue up, we just hadn’t let it soak in Goo Gone for long enough.
  • Get this wallpaper scraper. I know I made a big deal out of this in the materials list, but I’m gonna do it again. It is so, so worth it. I am 100% not getting paid to tell you that we couldn’t have done this project without this scraper.

20191001_175244-1I’m so in love with my new hardwood floor I may marry it. It’s not perfect in the least, though. Actually as we peeled back the carpet, we theorized that the reason it was carpeted in the first place is due to a bad refinishing job. If you look closely in the sun glares, you can see that it’s a bit wavy and under the radiator the wood has been sanded about 1/8″ down from its original height. Plus the floor is stained a honey color that doesn’t match the rest of the house… but only my parents, husband, and I will notice that stuff, so I don’t care.

My wrists killed me for a week but it was worth it.

If you pull up a carpet in your house, let me know how it goes!

And keep an eye out: now that the gross carpet is gone, I have big plans for this room…

Warmly,

EGinny

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