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finkelitis's avatar

Putting in a wood floor--suggestions?

Asked by finkelitis (1907points) March 10th, 2009

I’m thinking of getting rid of a carpet in my place and putting in some wood flooring. I’m trying to decide between bamboo and salvaged wood. It’s also possible that there’s wood under the carpet that might be repairable. Is this something I can do myself and with the help of friends who might have done it once? Do I need professionals? How long will it take? How much will it cost? (The cost of materials I can find online—I’m more interested in the cost of labor.) Any bits of wisdom or mistakes to avoid on this topic would be appreciated.

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13 Answers

chyna's avatar

You could do it yourself with friends that have done it “maybe once”, but wouldn’t you want a professional look after spending that much money on the wood itself? If you have a Lowes or Home Depot, you could start there with costs for labor, but I think I would look in the phone book under flooring to get someone that is professional and does it as a living.

kwhull's avatar

I have hardwood under carpet. I’m going to be taking the carpet out soon and have been thinking about how to refinish the floors. I noticed a commercial on TV that said Stanley Steamer (the carpet cleaning guys) does that too. Might want to check their pricing. I know we get coupons for them in the mail sometimes.

critter1982's avatar

If you have wood floor underneath your carpets there is a couple things that you should look for.

1. Stains: Such as pet urine or spilled drinks, etc. stuff that has seeped into the wood discoloring it. If the wood floor is not already finished you will likely not be able to get these stains out. If it is already finished, the stain may have not seeped down into the pores of the wood, and you may be able to get it off.

2. Deep dents and or scratches: If you have any large dents or scratches sanding the floor will not eliminate them. Small scratches and dents can be sanded out of the floor.

If you do not plan on using the hardwood under your carpet or you don’t have any under the carpet you have lots of options.

1. Bamboo: I’ve never installed bamboo flooring but I hear it is pretty good and more durable and resistant to spilled drinks, etc than standard hardwood. You still need to take of the floor though as you would with a regular hardwood floor.

2. Salvaged Wood: Unfortunately I don’t know a whole lot about this but is likely a cost effective solution.

3. Composite/Laminate flooring: This is cost effective and nearly maintenance free but is not as nice looking as real wood. Although if you have pets with nails will not scratch as hardwood would.

4. Oak flooring: Hard wood and is fairly resistant to dents and scratches and lots of different color variations.

5. Pine flooring: Is a soft wood but looks nice in older homes because it generates lots of character.

6. Maple flooring: Its also a hardwood and has a closed grain which means its less likely to wear overtime.

7. Many others…......

If you are going to refurbish the wood floor under your carpet it is something you could absolutely do yourself. You will first need to rent a drum sander. Sand the whole floor eliminating any stain and top coat that already exists and any small dents or scratches. This is probably the most important part if you want to be sure your final stain is consistent. Make sure when you sand you don’t have any color variations in your wood floor other than the wood grain of course or it will show up when you put your stain down. Once you sand everything you need to get rid of all the dust and debris you generated. I usually do this by mopping the floor several times. You are then ready to stain and put on your clear coat as you would with any wood you stain. If you want to hire a professional Lowe’s or Home Depot generally contract out to professionals but I would require all of them to provide and/or show you some of the work that they have already done.

Good luck!!!!

chyna's avatar

@critter1982 Very useful info here.

finkelitis's avatar

@critter1982 Thanks for the great advice. Is there a good way to get a little carpet up to check what I have underneath without destroying it? That is, can I peel a little bit up and still get it back down?

critter1982's avatar

@finkelitis: Go into one of the corners of your room and peel a little bit of your carpet up. Typically when you install carpet you lay a tack strip down about a 1/4” away from the wall and the carpet will somewhat get sandwiched between the tack strip and the wood trim. If you peel the carpet up from the corner using a screwdriver or some pliers you should be able to see your subfloor. Just tuck the corner back under the trim when your done.

finkelitis's avatar

@critter1982: Roger that. Thanks again.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

@finkelitis, how old’s your house?

Ask around, people often have an army of reliable contractors for services and are willing to share. Get lots of estimates, and ask for references. The thing with wood flooring is that it has to be drum sanded, then polyurethane sealed. It is a real pain to do yourself if you’ve never done it, and lots of dust. Once you get it done professionally, it’s good for a long time.

Judi's avatar

Just telling you, I LOVE my Bamboo floors. My husband and I did it but he IS a contractor. We bought the product from They have some pretty good installation instructions on their site. How you do it really depends on your sub floor so check them out. We used a hand scraped bamboo and it looks delicious!

finkelitis's avatar

My apartment was built in 1909. I checked under the carpet, and there’s nothing particularly good under there—I’ll have to buy some wood to put down. I’ll check around the building to see if anyone has contractors they like.

Judi's avatar

Is it concrete? Wood? If you do a floating floor it may not matter what’s under your carpet.

finkelitis's avatar

It’s some kind of wood. I think I could lay a nicer wood on top of it.

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