All Wilson’s Fault

When I got back from my recent trip to Mexico, Wilson came home a little sick. Not sure what was wrong, I was keeping a close eye on him. Until, one morning about 4am he got out of bed (where I was watching him) and peed on my bedroom carpet.

He didn’t whine at the door. He didn’t go on the laminate in the bathroom. He just squatted and went.

I turned on the light and he stared at me with pathetic eyes and I knew he really wasn’t feeling well. Still, I grabbed the cleaner, scrubbed the carpet with some rags and tried to get back to sleep.

A few days later, when we were back from the vet (diagnosis pending), I began moving all of the furniture out of my bedroom. The following morning I placed at order at my local Home Depot and within the day had the carpet torn up, carpet pad bagged for the trash, baseboards carefully removed, tack strips trashed and door frames in pieces.

It’s like after months and years of hating my carpet and the smell steadily getting worse I just couldn’t take it anymore and needed it gone now.

Like I said, all Wilson’s fault.

Although, once I saw the back of the carpet I knew that this was a long time coming and I wanted to immediately tear up the rest of the carpet in the house. Except, you know, no where else to put furniture.

So with the old carpet chilling outside I began to work on the new floor.

I’m not an expert, nor am I even remotely qualified to talk about flooring. But it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.

Step 1: the demo

I guess step 0 would be moving the furniture but that’s boring. Even if Nixon absolutely loved having my bed in the living room where he played the floor is lava by jumping from chair to bed to couch all the time.


Once the furniture is out demo can begin. Some people start by removing the baseboards but for me it was easier to get the nasty carpet out of the way.

I started at the door to the hallway, temporarily removing the door from the frame – hinges and all.

The transition strip of metal was a bitch but I eventually clawed under it with the wonderbar (aka crowbar) and took it out carefully. From there it’s pretty easy to pull the carpet away from the tack strips that border the room and I moved quickly, folding the carpet in on itself.

I found that I had one seam across the closet opening so I took out the largest piece before removing the carpet section in a second piece.

The carpet pad, frankly, was disgusting. I wish I could unknow what was lying under there all this time.

Not bad, right?


This is what I found. Eek.DSC_0600

There was a thick layer of dirt from the carpet pad breaking down and tons of debris from replacing the baseboards and just junk that got through over the years. I estimate the carpet had to be 15 years old because disgusting.


The carpet pad had many more sections tapped together so I ripped that out in smaller pieces and stuffed everything into 2 large garbage bags.

Then came the tack strips. And although I’m writing this very quickly, keep in mind this was an all day project from start to finish.

Again the crowbar did most of the work on the tack strips and the wood was very brittle and easy to break. I threw the pieces into an old trash can as I went and then used the crowbar to take out the nails driven into the concrete slab.

Oh. My. God.

I was breaking so much concrete, I was sure something was going to break from the debris. It flew off in pieces sometimes landing on my laptop where a movie was keeping me entertained, to the kitchen sink, one piece flew up and hit my face. Let’s just say I’m grateful I wore the dorky science geek safety glasses the whole time.


After the tack strips were up I moved on to removing the baseboards, numbering them as I went and keeping a key on the pink sheet of paper.


Using this tool meant for cutting wire, I took out all the nails and used my box cutter to trim off the caulk from the edges.


Next to be demoed was the door frames which I am going to replace and it just makes sense to do when the baseboards are out.

Yes, I know I spent the last 6 years finishing baseboards finally getting them done, oh 2 months ago. I know the irony is hilarious.

Step 2 Prep

I consider this a different step than demo, even though it happened simultaneously because there was a lot of work to do on the slab. Most homes have a plywood subfloor and have to deal with thousands of stapes. I was lucky and just had concrete with 500 divets in it from those damn nails.

So I picked up a filler in the concrete aisle and really liked the squeeze bottle factor to getting those holes filled. Also a really long crack that went across the room got 2 fillings of concrete mix.


Throughout all this I was of course sweeping and tossing trash constantly, even vacuuming up all the dust that accumulated under that carpet pad.

No one tells you how disgusting the walls are at the corners but let me just say: ewwww.


Once everything was thoroughly demoed and prepped, I went over the floor once more with an ice scraper which helped get the rest of the carpet pad and glue up.


Finally, by sundown on the first day I was able to clear the room of all tools and sweep it like my life depended on it. With the floor really, really clean and concrete filler drying fast I could bring in the first boxes of flooring to acclimate to the room and begin painting the subfloor.

Step 3 Paint

Okay wow, we’re still on day 1. That night I pulled out the new Kilz paint, an oil based primer that was specifically recommended for covering all sorts of animal related stains on a floor. Lucky for me, there was a Behr and Kilz rep on hand at the paint center (I think they were doing a sales call) so we compared a few different types of paint and I came home with this one:


Because it’s oil based I’m resigned to the fact that it will ruin any paint brush I use and, once I put it on, I’ll be essentially locked out of my room (the same one without a door) lest the dogs decide to run across the floor and get their paws wet.

So it was essential to do this and let it dry overnight after the dogs had gone outside and hopefully with fans blowing, be dry by morning.

It was not a fun process. About halfway through the quart I realized that my shaking was ineffective and since I did not get these shaken at the store the last bit of the can was really, really thick and hard to apply.

So I got about a third of the room done before calling it a night.

Step 3.5 should be take 2 tylenol and sleep on heating pads all night.

Day 2 I got the remaining paint shaken, painted the rest of the floor and waited for it to dry. I tested it once and came out with a white palm. Doh.

Step 4 Waiting

Since the wood has to be acclimated for at least 48 hours I was resigned to wait. I’m not a great waiter.

So here’s where I stand so far with tools and supplies:

  • 2 Quarts of Kilz Primer: $15.96
  • 1 liter of cement filler $7.29
  • 1 mallet for the boards: $4.97
  • 7 boxes of Lakeshore planks in Pecan: $133.63
  • 2 rolls of underlayment $49.96
  • Ice scraper: $21.97
  • Knee pads:  $19.97
  • Packet of spacers: $5.16
  • tapping block: $22.98

Also in the expenses category is the cost of dumping the old carpet and carpet pad, so add $11 for the county dump fee.

Total so far: $292.89

Which isn’t terrible in my opinion, more than 60% of that cost is the tiles and underlayment alone and I know the tools will be useful for more than one project. Don’t even think about doing this without good knee pads, seriously.

Want to see how it turned out? Part 2 is here


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