Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Carpet Removal, part 2

Rolling up the carpets and the carpet padding was the easy part.  There was a lot more to do before we were ready to start the refinishing process.  First of all, the carpet was held down by these strips of tackless lining the walls:

The guys who installed the tackless were scrupulous about making sure that it was well nailed down.  It was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to approach it--we didn't mind destroying the tackless (and we did turn much of it into splinters), but we wanted to make sure that whatever removal technique we used didn't damage the floors.  All of the pry bars and nail pullers we had were too bulky to slide easily under the nails or between the tackless and the floor.  The trick turned out to be running to Home Depot to buy this little guy:

Most of the time, I complain to P that we have too many tools already, too much of our budget goes to tools, and couldn't we please use something we already own?  Indeed, I tried that approach with this little guy, but I was a quick convert.  In fact, I'm surprised we didn't go back and buy a second one--we were both constantly reaching for it and trying to take it from each other.  "Can I use the magic tool now?"  Home Depot sells several sizes--this is the smallest one they sell, and it was perfect for this job--the edges were fine enough to slip under almost any surface, but rounded enough to not easily damage the flooring.  I preferred using the flat end to slide under the wood and pry it up, P preferred to use the nail puller end to grab nails from the top.

Not pictured are the thousands (I don't believe I'm exaggerating here) of staples that were used to fasten the carpet padding to the floor.  Some rooms had been carpeted more than once, so there was more than one iteration of staples that needed to be removed from the floor.  I generally used a painter's tool to loosen the staple and a pair of pliers to pull them out.  P later convinced me to use a pair of shoemaker's pliers--most staples could be pulled directly with these, with no need for prior loosening.  They're more ergonomically suited to the task than regular pliers, and much easier on the hands.  However, I had to be careful to use a light touch, or I'd easily slice through the top of the staple and leave the legs in the floorboards.  (This is bad because 1. we don't want to be able to see those tiny bits of metal when we look at our finished floor, and 2. as we sand down the floor boards, the tops of those legs would become exposed, and quickly wear out the sandpaper.)

I finally got fast at this when removing the staples from the OSB subflooring in the master bedroom.  Here, it didn't matter if the flooring was scratched slightly in the process.  The staples were held high off the floor by the relatively newer (only 20 years only) plush carpet padding, and I intentionally tore the padding around the staples, leaving a nice wad of pad stuck under each staple.  Grab the magic tool, wedge it into that bit of padding, hit the other end with a hammer, and wham!  the staple would fly out. 

Important tip: wear safety glasses during all staple and tackboard removal.  One errant staple could spell disaster.

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