We’ve been referring to the wood-paneled room downstairs as the “Green Room” since we moved in, deciding to name it for its astroturf-like carpet instead of the woodsy charm of its pine walls. It’s mostly a storage room for now, because it’s got a whole wall of built-in shelves for books and DVDs, a deep cabinet for musical equipment, and a closet suitable for Christmas decorations. You can see that it’s also home to stuff we haven’t found other homes for yet. Dismembered computers, mainly, waiting for the day my husband will need a cable or a fan to repair another machine.
|“Green Room” before the project|
When we updated the floors in the house, we decided to leave this room alone, because the carpet was in decent shape despite being so old, and we weren’t using the room very much. Unfortunately, after we got a few quotes and started the process, Mojo started to pee in the corner of the room. At first I was able to get the smell out, but he kept going back, and it became unbearable. We plan on replacing the carpet with vinyl tile sooner or later, but I couldn’t stand coming home to an unfriendly whiff of cat pee every day (worse if the heater was on, because he was peeing by the radiators). I took matters into my own hands and pulled the carpet out.
I started by pulling the corner free of the tack strips underneath, which was easier than I expected. I folded it over and used a box cutter and something called a “flooring knife” to cut off small, manageable sections. It didn’t take me long to figure out that cutting it from the underside was much easier than trying to drag the box cutter through the fluffy carpet side. The main difficulty with that was the need to fold over a large enough area of carpet to work on, and the backing was a thick plastic netting with very little flexibility. The geometry got tricky at times, and I had to kneel and work at funny angles to avoid cutting myself. This is what the floor looked like underneath:
|First corner gone|
Thin orange padding, disintegrating into dust, and some ugly tiles that are possibly made of asbestos. I had no serious concerns about working on the carpet demolition, because asbestos is only a problem when it’s kicked up into the air as dust. A handful of tiles were cracked, but as long as I wasn’t cutting through the tiles with a saw, or beating them into smithereens with a hammer, my lungs were safe. This was not a dangerous venture, according to the Internet and the two flooring guys we spoke to.
I did wear gloves and a mask, though, because the carpet was nasty. Between the cat pee and the pounds of powders I’d dumped onto it to mask the smell, this was a seriously offensive project. The area of carpet closest to the radiator was very badly stained. As I worked across the room, I found several old, dried up stains, which makes me think the previous owners also had pets who enjoyed peeing on carpets.
I filled a total of six large trash bags with carpet and padding, and I was delighted that the trash collectors actually picked them up. I was afraid they might be over the weight limit and we’d have to drag them to the dump. Under all that carpet and padding, I found a mysterious substance – sand. Lots and lots of sand. Part of it is just plain dirt, part of it is disintegrating padding and carpet backing, and part of it is the remains of powder-based carpet cleaners that make their way through all the layers and don’t get vacuumed back up. A few minutes with the Shop-Vac took care of most of it, and when I take a mop to the floor later this week, I’ll get the rest.
The tack strips along the edges were nailed down incredibly well, and I wasn’t quite strong enough to get them up. I had to ask the man of the house, he of greater upper body strength, to take over. There were two rows of strips, and he pulled them up using a hammer and small pry-bar. There are some missing pieces of tile at the edges of the room, and the nails from the tack strips left some holes, but I think that the vinyl tile will be able to go right over all that without any trouble.
So, here’s what we’re left with as we wait to get flooring installation estimates from a few other companies. It doesn’t look any better than what we started with, but the house is rid of its stink, and I am delighted. I’ll take ugly tile over stinky carpet any day.
|“Green Room” after full carpet removal|