Finding Original Hardwood Under Carpet! (Photos)

32 Replies

I am currently turning tenants in a 4br/2ba SFH in Arvada, CO and planned to have laminate flooring + new carpet installed on Wednesday. As I'm sure a lot of you have done, I opted to pull out the old stain riddled carpet on my own to save some money on the project. Tonight, to my surprise, I found original hardwood under the carpet and it's actually not in terrible shape.

My question is, am I wrong in thinking that this can be salvaged easily?  I already bought all of the supplied, scheduled both the carpet replacement for the bedrooms and laminate install for living room/hallways to be completed Wednesday with the goal of showing the house by Friday for the weekend.

Salvage or stick to the original plan?  I'm pretty handy on these types of projects, so would love to get the experience doing it on my own, but advice is much appreciated!  I don't know if I can pull off the project in time if I shift gears now, but I have another property that would really benefit from adding the laminate that I've already purchased.  Also - any advice as to how either of the options I've mentioned will impact refinance appraisal?

Also - the back/master bedroom will be carpet since it's the only spot in the house without hardwood underneath the carpet and in pretty rough shape.

Sorry ahead of time for the sideways photos, I am not sure why they turned out like that!

Thanks!

 IMO: Salvage the current floor; it’s a detour from your original plan, but it’s one that’s well worth it. 

Your floors look to be in pretty good shape. With a little bit of elbow grease, it’ll look spiffy!

To your success! 

Thanks @David Avetisyan !  I'm researching and it seems like a belt sander + 24 grit is going to get the paint off with some time and patience.  I'd like to avoid chemicals, but if it's not possible I need to consider options.

Has anyone seen any good write ups similar to this outlining the process, particularly when dealing with flooring stained from years of renovations?  The home isn't that old, I believe 1950s, but I'm not sure how to evaluate what kind of wood I'm working with.

I'm leaning toward restoring the old wood and throwing the laminate in the other property, it feels like a win for both properties and might be able to fit into my time crunch by pushing the laminate out to a later date (the second property is a house hack that I currently live in.)

@Zachary R.

Well, that's oil-polyurethaned oak, almost certainly 3/4 in thick, almost certainly 2 1/4 in. tongue-in-groove . It's Monday morning. There's no way you're going to master the refinishing process and get it done by yourself in two days, then do everything else you have planned to show the house by Friday. There's also only a very small chance you or anyone you hire is going to reliably get the laminate flooring in and a good job done on the trim by Wednesday, either, not in a 4/2 SFH where the tackless strip still need to go (and in a 4/2 you probably have stairs).

Do what you can within the time you have. Go with the laminate, take the punches on the time that you're almost certainly going to be dealing with already. It's going to take a lot of competent sanding and polyurethane application and drying time to get it done. Especially in the beginning, there's a steep learning curve to overcome and some special materials you'll need to buy that you probably don't have and can't get easily, especially if you want to try to do it with a handheld belt sander (which takes a lot longer than a drum sander and edger you might rent).

Continue with your original plan since the materials are already in and installations already scheduled.

Next time you turn the unit, you'll have options to consider.  And the time needed to consider them.

@Zachary R. Assuming you can return the materials you purchased for your original plan, I would pivot and refinish those floors. They are in good shape and can definitely be salvaged. 

As far as it having an impact on a refinance appraisal, I do not think it will have any at all but in my experience tenants much more prefer refinished hardwood as opposed to laminate and carpet.

thanks for all of the advice, I think I’m going to push back the showings and do this right the first time. Given that I have the laminate and install is paid for, I’m going to shift gears and throw the laminate into my other property. I’ll get two like new/brand new flooring projects out of one and can handle the month of vacancy.

Next question is, do I try to bite this project off DIY or pay a hardwood company to come in and really get these things shining? I’m now only carpeting one bedroom, so budget can be displaced there as well to offset some of the costs associated with the vacancy.

To one of the previous posters, there are no stairs in the house so it’s pretty straightforward on the hardwood restore.

@Zachary R.

I don't think it's worth DIYing for you in Arvada, Colorado versus paying a company. Then again, I could write what I know about your market inside a matchbook cover with a blunt crayon. If you did know how to DIY these floors, would it save you a lot of money? What are you planning to do to this house and others like it? Rent or sell, and in what sort of market? In my target market, practically every SFR of the age and construction I buy has these floors, and I refinish them to rent the place out to low income tenants with these floors in place because they're practical and durable, not as prestige flooring that I expect to be maintained in peak condition or brought back to peak condition at every rental turn.

For DIY you’ll need to rent a walk behind sander and use a regular hand held belt sander for the edges, corners, etc.  I like doing that kind of work, but that’s just me.  I’m sure there are plenty of you tubes on it, and don’t skimp on the quality of the products or number of final coats.  Probably buff it when you’re done.

First time using a walk behind sander, I mean what could go wrong? Haha, my advice is hire it done. The laminate you could tackle yourself, because that is entry level DIY stuff.

@Zachary R. I've DIYed 2 hardwood floors just like that.  They both turned out beautiful...But don't look that carefully...I am definitely not a pro and there really is a learning curve.

If you've got some DIY Skills I'd recommend trying it as it really is a good skill to have in your toolbelt. Rental properties are great to learn on in my opinion. There's no way I would attempt one on a flip as buyers are a lot pickier than renters.

 PM me if you want me to walk you through the process and a few of the things I've learned in my own experience.

@Zachary R. Here's a couple photos that show how the floors turned out in one of the rentals.  The prospective tenants do always mention that they like the floors when we're showing the house.

I'd second exactly what @Scott Jensen said. Don't look too closely at my floors, either! Durable as hell in a low-income rental, not quite as fantastic as one might like for a flip.

Refinish the wood but hire a pro crew to do it. It will cost you less than purchasing and installing vinyl or carpet.

Awesome thanks guys, I'm going to hire it out seeming as though it's minimal costs in the long run.  I appreciate all of the insight/valuable help here.  I'm going to install the laminate in my personal home (house hack.)

@Zachary R.

Depending on the class of this property, I'd probably still carpet the bedrooms. They take alot of abuse and the bedframes and furniture wont gouge up your fresh refinish job. The painting overspray is really bothering me, who the heck does that.

@Zachary R.

Hi Zachary,

If you do decide to refinish this yourself make sure to read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet's) for the refinishing supplies. Different ones can vary in harmful elements.

Good Luck!

We hired out a similar job. It took them 4-5 days between sanding, polyurethaning, and drying time. I would not want to do it myself. Seems like it would be easy to overdo it with the sander, and hose yourself. The oak floors from the 50's can look really nice if done right.

Just remember , the floors dont have to look perfect . Require that the tenants put down rugs , once they put in furniture you only see 30% of the floor . I would do every room including the bedrooms . Good semigloss poly looks great . I leave imperfections in my rentals on the floors , when shiny the floors still look great .  

I have done mine myself , its not fun easy or fast .

Originally posted by @Scott Jensen :

@Zachary R. Here's a couple photos that show how the floors turned out in one of the rentals.  The prospective tenants do always mention that they like the floors when we're showing the house.

 Your floors look great, Scott.  Is that an Early American tone of stain I sense?

I've refinished 14  of these and Matthew Paul is right, it isn't easy fast or fun, but talk about value-add.  I did a living room in a rental I was selling.  Took 2.5 days, costed $200 in paper, stain and poly and added $10k to the house value.

Rent a drum sander and 7" disc edger.  Use a sidewalk scraper to pop off the pad staples and carpet tack strips in a flash.  Most contractors charge $5/ft to refinish, after you've removed all staples and tack.   Good luck!

@Zachary R.

I just heard one of Brandon’s podcasts recently where he found some nice hardwood under some carpet. What he chose to do was put down new, more durable flooring over the hardwood because renters are tough on hardwood. Then, right before he sold the house, he removed the new flooring and sanded and stained the hardwood.

He said it worked out really well because the hardwood increased the desirability of the house.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :
Originally posted by @Scott Jensen:

@Zachary R. Here's a couple photos that show how the floors turned out in one of the rentals.  The prospective tenants do always mention that they like the floors when we're showing the house.

 Your floors look great, Scott.  Is that an Early American tone of stain I sense?

I've refinished 14  of these and Matthew Paul is right, it isn't easy fast or fun, but talk about value-add.  I did a living room in a rental I was selling.  Took 2.5 days, costed $200 in paper, stain and poly and added $10k to the house value.

Rent a drum sander and 7" disc edger.  Use a sidewalk scraper to pop off the pad staples and carpet tack strips in a flash.  Most contractors charge $5/ft to refinish, after you've removed all staples and tack.   Good luck!

  I was thinking Varathane's Gunstock. Really red like that.

@Zachary R.

Your flooring still in good shape. Go to Home Depot rent a sander for a day or two. You can sand it down within 2 days for a 4/2 house. After finish sanding, go get the stain paint over it, wipe it out the stain with a damp cloth. Let it air dry. My guessing is 3 days work. One day air dry. Total 4 days you will have a good looking flooring. I did 2 houses which was 2/1 about 800 sq ft. Of each. Minus kitchen and bathroom. Looking at 650 sq ft. Sanding within 4 hours and returned the sander to Home Depot. Then used the handheld sander to finish the edges for one day. Second day stained it about 5 hours. And I walked on the third day. Total cost was about $500. I’d suggest use 120 grid sanding pad. It would be a lot smoother and faster. You will need a lot of damp clothes to wipe off the stain. Not sure how big of your 4/2. But I think it won’t be over $1000.

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