Revealing the gorgeous hardwood under my (hated) Wall-to-Wall Carpet

3 min read I finally pulled out the tired green wall-to-wall carpet in my living room and revealed … a lovely warm toned and dense grained hardwood floor underneath. I’m so happy I can’t stop rubbing my hands together in glee.

best mid-century flooring options include original oak hardwood.

I actually can’t believe it took me a year and a half to get around to this step.  I always knew I was going to rip out the terrible green wall-to-wall carpet and expose the hardwood underneath.

Note: For ranches of this era hardwood floors were standard issue since nylon wall-to-wall carpet was invented after WWII as an alternate way to keep the war industry producers in business.  It was not common in Wisconsin in 1952 when my house was built.  I had even pulled back a small corner to confirm that it was down there.  But somehow I just didn’t get around to getting it out! 

I finally pulled the rip cord last week and I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER ABOUT IT.  How I have hated that darned carpet.  I’ve slowly been getting rid of all the dull green parts of this house – the outside paint, the bedroom baseboards, and now the carpet. The kitchen walls will be coming soon.

In the end it wasn’t even hard.  Getting started was simply a matter of wedging a chisel under the brass transition strip at the kitchen door.  This (and every subsequent step) made Roxie very nervous.

I followed the edge around the room, detaching carpet from the tack-strip.  The strip also popped out neatly with a hammer and chisel, leaving minimal nail hole damage.

With my dad’s help (a second person was invaluable) I folded back the carpet in roughly 4′ segments and sliced the underside with a utility knife.  Then we rolled it up into 4′ long bundles and tied them off with old electrical wire from the basement demo.  All that scrounged junk comes in handy eventually!

The underlayment had been very thoroughly stapled down in smaller (6′ wide) strips so it required a lot of pliers work to get each and every metal staple yanked.  Still, they also left nearly invisible holes.  All good so far.

The underlayment was a composite of a bunch of different types of foam and over the years ONE of the foam types had decomposed into little powdery areas.  In some places (where they got wet, perhaps) the powdery piles had transformed into gummy residue, splotching the wood finish with black. Nasty.

Fortunately these actually came up with nothing more than a scrubby sponge, a spritz of floor cleaner and a lot of elbow grease. It was a hard day for knees and elbows.  But the result is so satisfying.

removing capret - the floor cleaned

Here it is at the end of Day 1.  Scrubbed and with the area rug back temporarily.

removing capret - halfway done

It was two days of work.  At dinner time on day one I simply flipped the area rug back down and put the furniture back so that I could have a comfortable place to sit with my family after dinner.  The next morning we moved everything to the other side of the room and picked up where we left off, finishing up before noon!

Roxie doesn’t like the wood floor as much as she did the old wall-to-wall but she seems to  be willing to make do with the area rug.  Bonus points for looking super cute on both surfaces!  I’m enjoying looking at the floor both with and without Roxie on it on a more than daily basis!

Next for this room is getting the walls painted.  You can see the test swatch next to the fireplace.