Trade Your Dusty Carpet for Hardwood Flooring

6 Materials
3 Days

This past spring, I had the great opportunity to join the Better Homes and Gardens One Room Challenge as a guest participant, where I transformed my little baby girl's room into a drop dead gorgeous toddler/big girl room. Even I was jealous when it all turned out - I traded her crib for a beautiful custom built cabin bed and ripped out the dusty old carpets to install hand scraped Acacia click and lock engineered hardwood flooring. For the purpose of this article, I estimated the cost of a single room.

The cabin bed (post to come!) was much more challenging than installing the flooring and I would gladly floor any one of my rentals to save some money! I really enjoyed this project and hope you will too!

Tools we used:

  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Pry Bar
  • Hammer
  • Moisture Meter
  • Door Jamb Saw
  • Chisel
  • Spacers
  • Tapping Block and Hammer
  • Table Saw or Circular Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Air Compressor and Hose
  • Finish Nailer

First up - let's check out the before pictures.

Our house came with this carpet - I was not a fan of the brown. With kids and pets, stains really stood out and it just looked... dark. Plus, my family is prone to sinus issues and allergies, so eliminating the dust bunnies hiding out in the carpets was also a primary driving factor.

With the spring One Room Challenge up ahead, we decided it would be the perfect excuse to finally dive in and switch out our floors!

Step 1: Measure

You will need to get the total square footage of all of the area you are working with. Length times width - plus, add an additional 10% for hiccups and short cuts.

Step 2: Order Your Flooring

Decide on your flooring and order the amount, including the 10%, that you need. For our flooring, we opted for hand scraped Acacia engineered hardwood. Our little girl is very gentle and cares deeply for messing things up, so we weren't too worried about her ruining the floors. In addition to your flooring, you will need to order your underlay. We used Pergo Gold for ours, which provides a moisture barrier and underlay/cushion.

Step 3: Acclimate

Your new floors need time to get used to their new home. Let them sit in the room they will be going into for at least 48 hours to adjust to the humidity of that area.

Step 4: Rip It Up

If you have carpet, you want to get that stuff out of there. I was shocked at what had gathered under our carpets from the previous owners and us! After 10 years of use, it was nasty. My recommendation is to definitely invest in a great respirator before doing this. I did not when I ripped up the carpets in our master bedroom and the irritants I released into the air caused me to come down with a 3 month bout of bronchitis. For the nursery, though, I wore a respirator and didn't cough even one time!

To remove the carpet, it is actually quite easy. First, you use a slim pry bar and hammer to get a little leverage behind the baseboards and pry them up. I broke most of mine, but you could try to save them. Then, find a corner of the carpet and start pulling it off the tacks.

If you don't have carpet, though, many people say you can lay down the floating floors on top of the original floor (tile, laminate, etc.). My personal preference, though, is tearing it down to the sub floor.

Step 5: Clean It Up

Chances are, you probably found some pretty interesting stuff under there. You are going to want to remove all of the tack strips along the edge of the room and vacuum/mop up the sub floors.

Tack strip removal is also fairly straight forward. Using the same pry bar and hammer combination, the tack strips pop right off of the concrete.

Once the tack strips are removed, ensure your sub floor is clean, level and dry. This is also a good time to saw away all door jambs so that your new flooring can fit underneath them. We used the tap block to help with that and it seemed to work very well.

With two closets, we had a lot of door jambs to saw off! This was probably my least favorite step.

Step 6: Lay the Underlay/Moisture Barrier

We worked from left to right and put down each strip side by side, ensuring that they were wall to wall. We followed the instructions included very carefully and it was not difficult to do.

For the Pergo Gold Underlay, there is a fold-over part that connects the strips that serves as the seam tape. We used underlay tape on the seams where the fold-over seam tape was not available - if we had to cut to fit (closets, for example).

Step 7: Lay Your First Row

We followed the plan of laying the planks vertical to the longest part of the room, which usually aligned with the direction that the sunlight came through the windows. Using 1/4" spacers on all sides, the first few rows are the trickiest to install.

With the spacers against the wall, the planks sit snugly against them and connect with a click and lock type of connection. They click into place and, with the tapping block and hammer, you bring them a little tighter together.

We ran a dry run first, but then laid them down row at a time using wood glue to reinforce.

Step 8: Lay Subsequent Rows

We tried our best to follow the "best practices" for this. They said to use the short cut end of the last piece you used in the row before the subsequent row. This would make sure that the joints would not line up with each other. We also read that there was a certain pattern to follow, since each of these were variable lengths.

What actually ended up happening was that we made sure that each joint had at least 6 inches of solid plank on either side and each end piece was at least 8 inches long. We picked whichever board we liked that would fit that criteria. Definitely not the recommended professional way, I suppose, but we are SO satisfied with the end result.

Even though the manufacturers claimed that it was not necessary, we still put down a line of wood glue on each joint so that they would hold firmly together. When you click the planks into place, you will need to tap them firmly into each other with the block and hammer.

Step 9: The Final Row

When you get to the last row of flooring, you will find that often it is not going to be the same width as the rest. Using a circular saw, we ripped the boards lengthwise to fit into the last space. Measuring the space from the last board's ending point (not the click and lock area) to the wall and then subtracting a quarter of an inch would result in that measurement. We marked a line along the board and cut it to fit. It worked wonderfully!

Step 10: Baseboards

I always laugh when I have to use my husband's huge air compressor for my home improvement projects. He works on vehicles as a hobby, so this was mainly meant for him - but you will find me lugging it through the house, especially when I'm working on baseboards!

We purchased new baseboards in contractor packs as well as white semi-gloss to paint them. I painted them before cutting them to fit, so that I would have less of a chance of messing up the floors.

Remove all of the spacers from your flooring and measure the lengths. If you are using your old baseboards, then not much will be needed other than remembering how you pulled them up. A simple numbering system should help with that. However, if you are going new, you will need to work in a certain direction, measuring and cutting one at a time. I chose the smallest baseboard section next to the entry door and worked counter clockwise around the room.

Next to the door frames, a straight cut will work on the edge that butts up against the frame. At the corners, I used a 45 degree miter cut to fit them snugly together. When the baseboards join up with each other on a long wall, you can use what is known as a scarf joint - two 45 degree cuts on each board, so that one will sit on top of the other.

Here is a more in-depth tutorial on baseboards to help get you going on that portion of the project.

Once the baseboards were in, we followed similar techniques to install quarter rounds if you (like me) might need to hide a bit of a short flooring plank here and there. Or maybe, you just enjoy the look.

Finally, fill in the nail holes with spackle or wood filler and touch up the paint. We finalized the whole look by caulking the seams with a white caulk to make it beautifully seamless.

What a difference, right??

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Veronica
    on Sep 28, 2019

    I’d love to try this. If you don’t mind sharing, what was the final ‘bill’ for the room? How much did it cost?

    • It was hard to estimate just one room, because we purchased for 4 total - living room and three bedrooms. I took the cost per sq ft of the flooring and subfloor and started there for the estimate! I hope that helps.. they have a lot of beautiful, less expensive flooring available as well!

  • Sally-Charles Evans
    Sally-Charles Evans
    on Sep 28, 2019

    I love this room change. Your little one will enjoy this room for a long time. You could even design a larger bed as needed. Quick question....How do you change the sheets in the cabin bed? Does it move easily?

    • Hi there! Thank you so much :) Changing the sheets is a little more difficult, but not awful. I end up lifting the mattress up one side at a time to tuck the sheets in. It's a tight fit, not not too bad once you get used to it!

  • Brittney
    on Oct 5, 2019

    Where did you get the bed?

    • Hi Brittney - I actually built it myself, but there are plenty of these cabin beds for sale - they were just really far out of my price range! I built it for $300 ish but the lowest I've seen them priced was about $1,000.

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