Congratulations! You’ve found hardwood under your carpet! I remember that feeling of hitting the jackpot quite well. The first feeling is one of shock, then you imagine the room filled with beautiful hardwood panels rather than the old dingy carpet that currently occupies the space. However, as soon as you pulled up that horrendous carpet those warm and fuzzy feelings flew right out the window. Am I right?
There are a number, a plethora if you will, of problems to tackle with old hardwood that some, likely insane, person decided to cover. The most noticeable will most likely be the carpet glue. Dry adhesive or carpet tape is often used when hastily installing carpet over hardwood. Once you try to remove the carpet however these sticky elements remain. Second, will be staples. The carpet might have been enforced with a few (hundred) staples which can be annoying to remove. The last, albeit simpler, problem will be the accumulated dirt and dust.
Luckily, I had a friend whose husband made woodwork a hobby, and he gave some pretty detailed instructions on what I could do to clean the floors as effectively as possible. It was hard work, but completely worth the effort. Here are the instructions that I used, followed by a few tips that I’ve heard since then.
- Prior to cleaning the floors you’ll want to remove all the staples and any carpet tape that might have been used. This should pull right up, but if you find you’re having trouble try getting pointing a hairdryer at the tape to soften the adhesive.
- Sweep or vacuum the floor to get any extra tape or carpet that may still be laying around.
- Using something like Enforcer Heavy-Duty Floor Stripper, get rid of all the wax and dried adhesives. Make sure to follow the directions on the product as most chemical strippers, including Enforcer, are concentrated and require you to dilute them. Alternatively, you could avoid the chemicals by using a proper heat gun, no hairdryers here, to soften the adhesive enough to wipe it away or you can dip a cloth in boiling water and rub at the adhesive. Obviously you’ll need to wear a thick glove for this method.
- Now you’ll want to soft scrub the floor with a product like Murphy Oil Soap. This particular product gets great reviews on Amazon though, and at under ten dollars, you can’t beat the price. Be sure follow the directions on the product and to use a soft scrub rather than something abrasive that will scratch your wood.
- Wait for the floor to dry completely. Make sure to wipe up any puddles to avoid water damage.
- Hand buff the floor with equal parts white distilled vinegar and water. To do this pour the combination into a spray bottle and even spray the part of the floor you’re working on; buff in a circular motion using a soft cloth.
Hopefully, after spending an afternoon following these six steps your new-found floors will look fresh and clean. If the floors still look worn and unattractive, you might have to consider completely refinishing, but before you do try these tips.
Tip One: I’ve read that you can wipe hardwood floors down with a cloth dipped in black tea to naturally stain them and make them shine.
Tip Two: Be careful vacuuming your hardwood as most vacuums have rotating pieces that can scratch or scuff your floors.
Tip Three: Try to use a little water as possible throughout this process, making sure to dry thoroughly the water to do need to use. Water is not great for wood; especially old wood that has been hidden away for so long.