Before we moved in, I walked the Duplex with my landlord and she pointed out several issues. One of those issues was the poorly laid LVT tiles downstairs, the other was the gross, old, stained carpet in the bonus room. She mentioned during this tour that she was considering replacing it with laminate. I heartily agreed. In my opinion, hard surface flooring is the way to go in rentals. Carpet simply doesn’t last and gets gross quickly. For anyone who has allergies to dust or dander, carpet traps dirt and dust and even the strongest of vacuums can’t get it out. It’s affordable in the short term, but over time, the cost of ripping up and replacing carpet adds up quickly.
Fast forward two and a half months. I reached out to our landlord via email and asked about her timeline for replacing the flooring on the stairs and in the bonus room. The carpet was nasty and a little smelly. I’d gone to Home Depot and gotten a quote on the installation and labor for a laminate floor. Home Depot estimated $250 in costs to remove the existing carpet and $850 in labor and materials to replace everything with an inexpensive laminate. The bulk of that cost was in the expensive laminate stair treads.
Unfortunately, life happens, and due to some unforeseeable personal matters, replacing the flooring was no longer in her plan or budget. So I suggested something else. What if I ripped out all the carpeting and painted the subfloor? A quick look around the internet told me I could do this for under $250. I proposed this solution as a way to make me happy in the short run, and allow her to spend on new flooring when she was ready. With her approval (yay! Happy dance!) I planned my attack. It was less than 200 SF so I figured I could knock everything out in a weekend. Little did I know how back breaking that would be.
My weekend commenced and proceeded to look a little something like this:
5:50pm – arrive home from work
6:00pm – quickly eat left overs from fridge, change clothes
6:15pm – move all the furniture out of the bonus room
6:30pm – begin ripping up all the carpet
7:30pm – finish ripping all the carpet out
7:45pm – finish ripping all the carpet pad out, try not to gag looking at the amount of dirt that’s been hidden under the carpet for going on 20 years (see brown smears in picture, much more obvious in person!)
8:00pm – finish carting all the carpet and pad into the car (laying it on top of a tarp to protect the van)
9:30pm – finish pulling up all the tack strips, add these to the pile of stuff in the car
9:45pm – sweep floors
10:00pm – vacuum flooring
10:15pm – begin pulling the 253 billion staples out of the stair treads/risers with a pair of needle nosed pliers
10:30pm – my roommate comes home and helps pull out staples from the bonus room
11:30pm – roommate goes to bed
1:00am – finish removing all the staples I can find (approximately 589 trillion)
1:30am – fall into bed, showered, but sore
8:00am – alarm goes off
8:45am – finish breakfast and dress in project clothes
9:00am – sweep floors
9:15am – vacuum floors, assess supplies, realize I don’t own a spackling knife, hope the tinted primer works well with the paint selection
9:30am – wipe down floors with wet cloth, remove the 33 million more staples I find while doing this
10:00am – run to Home Depot for spackling knife
10:30am begin filling screw holes, saw cuts, and spaces between particle board panels, day dream about how much easier than paint prep, painting will be
1:00pm – eat quick lunch of something you just pop into the oven from Trader Joes
2:00pm – hop into car
2:30pm – buy Benjamin Moore Natura Semi-Gloss paint in Waynesboro Taupe at Powell’s Paint. Color selected quickly as the swatch isn’t yellow-brown, but doesn’t clash with the trim and is light enough to help reflect light around this dark windowless room
3:00pm – arrive at Environmentally Conscious Recycling and weigh van
3:30pm – finish unloading car at ECR, weigh car again, pay minimum $25 fee
3:45pm – stop by Home Depot again for more wood filler and wood transition strips
4:00pm – fill remaining holes and cut marks
5:00pm – hop into shower
6:00pm – wash ibuprofen down with wine (not recommended) at Nikki’s, eat authentic homemade Japanese curry, try not to fall asleep on her sofa
10:00pm – fall into bed, more sore than before
7:30am – alarm goes off, groan in pain, take more ibuprofen
8:00am – finish breakfast and get dressed in work clothes
8:15am – beginning cutting in Kilz Max Stain and Odor Blocker water based primer (highly recommend! Not too smelly – though I wore a mask – and had excellent coverage)
11:30am – finish cutting in primer, begin rolling primer
12:30pm – finish rolling in primer, eat lunch, take break while primer dries, realize I’ve missed tons of screw holes/cuts that will need to be filled
2:00pm – start second coat of primer in certain areas (like those that now have exposed wood filler)
3:00pm – wash brush and roller, eat snack, take break
6:30pm – install wood transition strips at entries to bedrooms and bathroom
7:00pm – start cutting in paint, realize wet paint is nearly the exact same color as dry primer and it is basically impossible to tell where you’ve painted or just primed, discover the paint (luckily) dries much darker. Primer is the main field color below with cut in dry paint on the right and cut in wet paint on the left!
10:00pm – finish cutting in paint, start rolling
11:00pm – finish rolling, eat dinner, shower
11:30pm – fall into bed more tired than ever, dreading work the next morning.
Whew! I’m exhausted just remembering all this! Yup, that was my weekend. My exhausting, back breaking, someone please feed me, weekend. And I am 100% glad I did it and 100% not willing to do it again any time soon. Especially since the next weekend I went back in, touched up a few spots I missed with paint (got to love Benjamin Moore paints that only required 1 coat!), and then sealed the floors with Safecoat Acrylic. I let that dry for another week before bringing the furniture back in.
We still have the futon in here for guests and all of the electronics on the built-in counter I want to drill a few holes and add some grommets to tame that mess. I did buy a nice big West Elm rug which I’m hoping will cozy up the space!
You can see here how the window in the stairwell sits low, below the half-wall railing in the bonus room, preventing much light from illuminating this room. Even in the middle of the afternoon, this room is pretty dim. A light colored paint on the floor was a must for brightening up the space!
Our yellow brown trim will always stand out pretty starkly, but that’s the nature of it. If the room was brighter, I would have painted the floors a nice deep black. The trim would still have popped against the black, but the room would have been dark dark dark! In person the color is the perfect blah tone that fades away on the floor, letting everything else speak for itself. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all! It’s a nice safe background. This picture below shows it very close to how it looks in person.
And this post wouldn’t be complete without a kitten photobombing, so here we go, model pose!
How much did it all cost?
Supplies and a Gallon of Primer cost about $60
Benjamin Moore Natura Paint Gallon also $60
Recycling Fee for the carpet $25
Safecoat Acrylic Sealer $95
Which left me spending about $240 which my landlord happily reimbursed me for. Although the labor was quite demanding, I’m pleased with the result and couldn’t be happier for the change! It’s mush nicer walking on the painted and sealed subfloor. I don’t miss that gross carpet one bit!
Have you ever painted subfloor? How has it held up for you over time? Although painting didn’t take long, I was a bit shocked at the number of staples that needed to be pulled up. My hand had the imprint of the pliers for a week afterwards!