Extremely dirty subfloor after removing carpet and pad

10 Replies

I just ripped out the carpet and pad at a new place I bought, and the subfloor is very dirty.   House had a really bas smell, probably from pet stains that soaked through carpet.  Carpet was heavily stained.  Basically, I don't think anyone ever vacuumed or steam cleaned the carpets in 10+ years.  I will sweep out the floors really good tomorrow, but I almost feel like I should mop the subfloor.  Is this a bad idea?  Is there a way to get the floor cleaner than just sweeping it without getting it wet?

I have a carpet guy coming in about 3 days to put down the new carpet and pad.

Thanks for any suggestions!

I would say sweep it up really good and if the smell persists, you may want to roll some kilz paint on the floor. Kilz (oil based) does a very good job of covering odors. It stinks itself, but it is better than pet smells and it dissipates after a while.

I don't see a problem as long as you give it time to dry out before installing carpet. If you have a good vacuum that should work pretty good and be faster that sweeping.

I wouldn't mop it just shop vac it till you get all dust and dander up. Then if you have any bad stains in the subfloor from pets they make something called Natures Neutralizer you spray it on the spots and let it do it's job. If it real bad you can even roll on a coat of shellac or poly over the stains. Good luck

@Michael Stroup  Was the carpet -- and hence the subfloor -- stained pretty much everywhere? 

I like the oil-based Kilz advice since I've had great luck with that approach -- and it's fast and economical. 

Worst case for particularly bad / rotted areas, you can always replace some of the subflooring if the pet had certain "favorite" areas.

I've used Kilz a couple of times for this issue  and it has worked very well!

Basically, I don't think anyone ever vacuumed or steam cleaned the carpets in 10+ years. 

Even if they did, under the carpet would still be disgusting.  Neither is going to be able to suck the dust that reaches the subfloor back through the pad and carpet.

Is this a flip or a rental?  If its a rental, I would STRONGLY recommend something besides carpet.  If you do use carpet, budget for replacing it every few years.  IRS says they last five years, judges here (I've been told) say three.  Which means if your carpet is older than three years and the tenant wreck it (they will, given time) then you're out of pocket to replace it.

BEFORE you do anything you need to asses the damage of the unit. Get you a black light and then turn off the lights and all the stains should show up. You are looking to see if they sprayed the walls at the bottom and in the corners.

If that's the case you will need to take off the bottom section of drywall going all the way around.

Since you mentioned subfloor then it has a basement or lower level??

With the sub floor you need to check if it's really bad. you can take a moisture meter and see how saturated the levels are. If the sub-floor is really bad you might need to replace certain sections. If it has been soaking for years then studs underneath could be bad or where you take off the drywall the studs need some sanding.

The subfloor you can lightly sand the top layer to take off saturation if not much. I do not recommend throwing a sealer over it if it is bad as it will still linger some and the tenant will complain. The sealers can be good but there are steps to do first in certain situations.

If you want to put carpet in you can buy a "vapor barrier" between carpet and the padding. This way if they have pets and constantly go on the carpet you can just replace carpet and the barrier will keep it from damaging the sub floor etc.

I have dealt with a room before where the seller kept 30 feral outside cats. I have about seen it all. It really depends on assessing the extent of the damage before deciding how to proceed and get the smell out.

No legal advice.  

I had this same issue a few years back. You definitely need to deal with the subfloor- why put new carpet and pad down and risk the stank soaking through? I used oil based Kilz, two coats. Cost me about $100 and it did the job. Good luck!

Corby Goade, Real Estate Agent
208-297-3010

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