Some immutable Flooring Truths

Please allow me to share a few universal, immutable Truths about the wood flooring found in older homes.
When you hear the words "... and there's a wood floor under the carpet," what you should think is: " ... and the abused damaged ruined remnant of a once-beautiful tongue and groove plainsawn oak floor lie beneath this urine-stained berber."
Carpets are generally put on top of wood floors for a reason, and in my experience -- this 50's ranch being my third, after two early 1890's Vic's -- those reasons have a lot more to do with concealing/cheaply covering up damage than it does with comfort, sound or any other very plausible explanation.
In the my Vics, the carpeting was there to hide termite damage. (Termites, btw, like nice tasty oak floor better than icksies pine subfloor). In the case of my '50's ranch, it was to cover over a profoundly flowerpot-water damaged floor.
It's also worth noting that some floors, even if not all that "damaged" are basically ruined.
For example, in th case of my 50s ranch, in addition to several pizza-sized water stains, when i pulled up the chihhuahua-pee stained carpet this morning i found 4d or 5d nails -- facenailed into every flooring strip, at every joist for a grand total of . . . 1500+ nails. The floor cannot be refinished in this condition, and it cannot be simply patched, as every face nail needs to be removed before i can sand, which effectively means every strip has to be pulled up.
Better to buy a whole new brace of 3/4" oak, given the prices of oak today, plus it gives me a cheaper material to practice floor sanding on than the maple i'll be installing later this year in another room.
I should hasten to point out that i'm far from upset, and I am definitely not complaing or unhappy -- this gives me a great excuse for MORE TOOLS, (like that excellent pneumatic cleat driver i saw at Berland's) along with a great opportunity to level floor, which, had i not needed to remove the old finish floor, i probably would not have taken the time to do.
.max
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Sorry to hear of your troubles, but those are not immutable truths. I bought a 1950's ranch in 1995 from the original owners. It had wall to wall carpet throughout, including inside all the closets. The carpet was ancient and awful. Underneath it was a brand new 1952 oak floor that had never been walked on other than to install the carpet. Back in 1952, the houses in my neighborhood were built with oak floors as standard, and wall to wall carpet as an extra cost option. If you went for the carpet, they put it OVER the oak floor. When we had our closing, we went straight over to the house and ripped up all of that nasty carpet the same day. The floor underneath was in pristine condition, and did not even need to be waxed. Not a mark on it.
Barney
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*@*.com wrote:

i am going to make a very special voodoo doll out of my chihuahua-pee carpet and name it Barney.
Congrats on the score -- that is most excellent.
.max
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immutable truth , ive seen carpets pulled out of maybe 30 houses most 80 yr old homes sorry youve had bad experiances but ive only seen ruined kitchen floors. Maybe its the neighborhood
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Well I hear your pain brother and I have come across the Good The Bad And the immutable in my Twenty four years of Experience as a Hardwood floorlayer ( union trained and non union trained) I can tell you that here in in British Columbia You could not get insurance on your house without Hardwood floors during finall inspection, Approx 1950's. When carpeting became fire Resistant people put it in over thier hardwood without the hardwood even being sanded or finished Sometimes you get gold not gob.
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*@*.com wrote:

SAme experience for me, too... I bought a house built in 1954 from the original owner... They had the carpet put down when the house was new, and the original oak floor had never seen a day of wear. Over the course of their ownership, they only had 1 dog, and it stayed outside, so no pet stains to soak through and ruin the floor underneath.
The only thing I had to do was to fill in the few holes left by the carpet tack strips with some colored wood filler, and you never know that there was ever carpet on the floor. Looks like a brand new floor.
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*@*.com wrote:

I'm kind of in between on this. I just started taking up the carpet in my house, built in 1962. So far I have done one room, and the floor is in fair condition. I waxed it and it doesn't look bad. This is my bed room. My biggest concern will be the living room.
Bill Gill
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Bought my first house in 1966. It was built in 1948. Hardwood floors covered with carpeting. Fashionable people that we were, we replaced it with new wall to wall carpeting. Hey, there are a few squeaks in the floor, but I can get rid of them ! ! !. Not as many as yours, but I put in maybe 50 nails or so. Then the carpeting covered it all. Ed
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I'm sorry to hear of your bad experience(s). I guess I got lucky. My house was built in 1930. The floors in the bedrooms are fir; the rest of the house is oak (I'm not sure about the kitchen...does anyone know if they typically put hardwood in there?).
I pulled up the filthy carpet in the bedroom soon after buying the house, and had that room refinsihed by a professional. There were no stains on the floor. Just recently, I pulled the carpet out of main parts of the house (hall, living room, dining room). Despite the backside of the carpet showing a horrifying number of what appeared to be dog piddle stains, the floor was in great shape except for needing some patches where some vents had been.
I was amazed at how well the hall refinished. Someone in years past had glued a foam-backed carpet to half of the hallway. (I could see where they had spread on the adhesive with a notched trowel). When they ripped up the carpet, the foam stayed stuck. So they simply laid carpet pad and then wall-to-wall carpet over the mess. Another part of the hall had what appeared to be tar paper stuck to it. Hours of careful scraping got most of the mess off, and the floor guy got the rest of it off by scraping and sanding.
I will never understand how someone could GLUE something to these lovely oak strips. I guess they just took this kind of flooring for granted back in the day?
Lauri in WA
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