Replacing Carpet with Hardwood Floors

Posted by John on January 3rd, 2012

Ahhhhh.  Feels good to finally write that title.  This project has been on my wish list for this house since we moved in.  It’s been apart of our Grand Plans for several weeks now and I can put a check in the box.  As I write this though, I still have to add the quarter rounds on the perimeter of the room and do a couple stain pen touch ups before I can REALLY call it done, but otherwise I’m happy as a clam.  Oh and Lisa and I will be replacing our family room carpet with hardwood this coming weekend, so I still have to get my hands dirty again with hardwood floors very soon.  I’m already excited!

*** I’m going to break this flooring install up into a couple posts, because there’s a lot to write about, so check back later for more info and tips.****

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I’ll give you the why’s and what’s.  The reason we’re pulling up the carpet is really due to the fact that we both love the look of it over carpet and it adds a lot of value.  Moreover, we have a small dog that does shed a wee little bit and occasionally barfs, so keeping hardwood clean is a little bit easier.  It may help with some of our allergies as well, although they’ve been minor to begin with.

The floor is a Bruce hardwood called Manchester and it is a 3 1/4″ wide oak floor stained cherry in color.  It’s the very same floor that we have in the rest of our house.  We bought it from an online distributor called QualityFlooring4Less and picked it up at a local receiving warehouse in PA.  Here’s the kicker… the challenge to this project begins before you even lay down one board.  The boxes weigh around 70 lbs a piece.  I needed 600 square feet plus 5-10% extra, which totaled 28 boxed.  That’s nearly 1 ton!  This isn’t going to fit in the back of my grand cherokee!!  We had to rent a Uhaul to get all that wood home.  Plus try carrying that all in.  Not. fun.  I was exhausted before I even began this project!!  We threw the boxes in our first floor office to get them out of the way.


Another very important requirement when installing hardwood floors is to let the material adjust in your home for a few days before you start the job.  The wood must adjust to the temperature and humidity properly.  If you just install them right away, they’re liable to expand or contract after you’ve installed them, possibly ruining your work and the wood.  We let ours rest around 4-5 days.  Kinda annoying, but you deal.

So, let’s get to it.  How to replace your wall to wall carpet with hardwood. 

Part 1:  Carpet Removal

Here’s what our living room looked liked before we started.  This was taken even before we painted.


Once we removed the furniture and the pictures, we were ready to rip up the carpet.  Well, really I’ve been ready to rip it up since we moved in, but that’s another story.


Removing the carpet is pretty easy.  Just pull up on the corners and the carpet will come right out.  I used a box cutter to cut the backside of the carpet and I cut it into two large sections that can then be bound with duct tape and discarded.  We’re going to try to donate ours.


The carpet is adhered to the subfloor with a thin nail strips that runs the entire perimeter of the carpet area.  Also underneath the carpet is the carpet pad.  The pad can just be ripped right up from the floor.  It’s held down by staples.    We’ll remove those later.


The nail strips can be taken up with a small pry bar.  Be careful though, as the nail strips are sharp!


I put all the removed strips into the center of the floor and then threw them into a cardboard box for disposal. You don’t want to accidentally step on one of these!

Now for those pesky staples.  Little bits of the carpet pad get stuck under the staples that keep it tied down to the floor.  I removed as much of the pad from the staple as I could with my bare hands and then I turned to a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the rest.  Wear gloves if you’re going to remove the staples.  I didn’t and got a blister!!

Once the floor has been prepped by removing the carpet, the pad, the nail strips, staples and any other debris or garbage, it’s a good idea to sweep and vacuum the subfloor clean.  After it’s been cleaned, it’s time to lay down the rosin paper.  There are a couple different types of hardwood underlayment paper that you can use, but I like the regular red rosin paper because it’s cheap AND I had some left over from our first home.

Just roll it out and overlap the seams by a few inches.  It’s necessary to use because it acts a buffer between the hardwood floor and the plywood subfloor, which eliminates creeks and squeeks and makes for an easier floor installation.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be in place.




Part 2:  Installing the Floors

Now to start the flooring.  Since I’m directly tying my new floor into my old, I’m going to continue my planks in from the dining room.  Eventually, the floor will have to be integrated into the floor in the vestibule, but I’ll save that info for my next post.  You can see in the photo below, that the old floor had a small quarter round that will need to be removed.  I popped mine off with a pry bar.  Came right off.  Guess it wasn’t glued.  Thank God for short cuts.  Also, my last dining room floor board doesn’t have an obvious tongue or groove, so it won’t be able to intersect MY first board.  It has to go.  I also removed it with a pry bar.  Be careful when you remove boards.  If you don’t do it right, you can damage the board behind it!!  Then it never ends, so be careful!


Let’s throw down the first board. I pick my boards soley based on length. I don’t want any of my boards to have an end seam within 2″-3″ of an end seam on an adjacent board. You can see that my first board is well clear of that on the dining room floor board.  For the first board, it get’s butted up against the wall on the left and then pulled away about 3/8″.  Wood generally doesn’t expand in the lengthwise direction, but a little gap won’t hurt.


I’ll bang the board into place with a rubber mallet that came with my nail gun and nail it into place with my nail gun.




Like that action shot?  After the first board is in, you just lay down the next board and continue down the line.  If you weren’t installing hardwood against an existing hardwood floor, then the first row will need to be face nailed and not angle nailed.

When you get to the end of a row, you can either measure the gap to the wall with a tape measure to determine the length of your last board OR you can use this little trick.

Pick out your floor board and lay it next to your row.


Now flip it over lengthwise and pull it away from the wall by around 3/8″. Mark the backside of the board where the end of the previous board meets it and cut on that line.


Now you can install it. Quick and easy!


After several hours of continuing this I was able to get the floor to a good stopping point.


hardwood floors

Later this week, I’ll show you how to integrate the floor into boards that run the other way!!  Trust me, it’s much harder than it looks!!

Have you ever installed hardwood floors or are you planning it? 


Posted in Flooring. Tagged in ,,

  • Julio Correa

    Great post! How much time did it take you to fo the entire area (about)? How much did you spend on the wood?

  • John_OHFScratch

    Hey Julio! Que pasa? The floors were $3.75 per square foot. It took me about 4-5 hours for what I did in today\’s post.

  • Kristen

    The floors are looking great! I can't wait to see them finished!

  • Beautiful! I love the color. Can't wait to see the room put back together!

    • John_OHFScratch

      Thanks Amy! You and me both.

  • I love the color! So pretty! I really want all hardwood floors, but my Hubby is a carpet lover. It's a hard compromise to make! lol

    • Thanks! Nothing wrong with carpet!

  • Absolutely beautiful floors! I really love them. Great choice. From just the bit of pics you shared, the room looks so great.

    • John_OHFScratch


  • Hector

    Great post!! That's what I looking for as an inspiration to start my own "remove carpet project". I want to do it by myself, I do not why, perhaps it is because I am going to save a lot of money?

  • I've always preferred the look of hardwood flooring over carpet. I am glad to see that it was donated to someone that could use it rather than being thrown away.

  • Betty Ann

    In our home we had laminate floors installed by professionals since we chose not to do the labor ourselves. We had light grey carpeting through most of the house.Our home has three levels, living room, sitting room and diningroom. WE had the laminate floors installed in all three rooms.

    There is a tiled entry way at the front door and kitchen.Now for my question. WE have decided to have the same laminate laid in the three bedrooms located on the upper level.We will keep the carpeting on the stairs and am thinking about leaving the carpeting on the landing which leads to all three bedrooms. My main reason for this is to prevent slipping on the laminate floors as we walk from a bedroom to the carpet stairs.

    I am searching for a picture of a home where this is done but can't locate one. What is your opinion of how this will look? Thanks, BTW your floors are beautiful!

    • Betty Ann,

      While I can't comment about how the actual final result will look in your home without seeing it, I can tell you that I share your concern for having carpet near the stairs to prevent people from slipping. I don't think that it's that rare to have carpet on stairs and then again on a landing. Our second floor is all wall to wall carpet and so is our stairs. If you have laminate in the bedrooms, the laminate will meet the carpet in the landing around each bedroom door. In my opinion, it should look fine, but you're smart to look for examples online.

      Best of luck!

  • Dan

    Awesome job! Just wanted to quick comment that laying paper under hardwood floors is completely unnecessary and definitely won't prevent squeaks. if you're using modern flooring nails with ridges in them, and have a level floor, you shouldn't get squeaks.

    • Hmm. Did not know that. Thanks for the tip, Dan.

      • Dan

        Well, after doing a floor myself recently, I was told by the flooring place that the underlayment is required by the flooring manufacturer, so it's a good idea if you want to keep the warranty intact… I used this silcone coated paper stuff that was pretty nice and fairly cheap.

    • Tim Z

      Dan, I used to do floors and the underlayment is more of a moisture barrier between the subfloor and the hardwood floor. I always used the 15lb black roll paper. It’s similar to the roofing felt.

  • Sandip

    Nice work John, how easy is to remove carpet and install hardwood or bamboo on stairs with bull nose?

  • sk

    none of the photos are visible.. can you check the same ?

  • Karen

    Thank you for the Great Information!!!…:)

  • Gillian

    Great job done John, can you advise me
    I am going to have engineered wood in
    bedrooms and carpet on landings and stairs would it be okay to carpet the landings & stairs before laying wood to the bedrooms that meet the top landing

    • John @ OHFS

      Shouldn’t be an issue unless you want your stairway carpet to continue onto the floor where the wood will be installed.

    • Gillian

      Thanks for replying, well both wood and carpet would meet at the threshold where door bars for carpet go but, the wood floor would be higher than the carpet hope I described it okay

      • John @ OHFS

        As long as you have a smooth transition. You should explain your situation to your carpet installer.

        • Gillian

          Will do, I suppose it would be best to get the wood done first re: door bars its just that the wood is not in stock right now but if you think it won’t pose a problem I may go ahead with carpet just wanted to do it the right way round thanks for your reply I really appreciate it

          • John @ OHFS

            I’m not sure why it would pose a problem, but then again, I’d need to see it.