Monster’s in the Closet? Hardwood Floors Under the Carpet? When you buy a house, there’s almost always an element of the unknown. For better or worse, plenty of houses are hiding something. Maybe its bats in the attic or antique glass doorknobs that have dulled with age. Maybe its a heating system that clangs and bangs all night like a ghost with chains or hidden nooks and crannies. Maybe its termites or beautiful hardwood under dingy dated carpet. That last thing (the hardwood, not the termites) are what many people are hoping for. Hardwood floors are totally “in” right now. Everyone wants them. They’re hypoallergenic, easy to clean, and long lasting among a variety of other advantages. In addition, according to the Rebecca Mecomber, some surveys have shown that hardwood floors can raise a home’s value by up to 11% (http://homeguides.sfgate.com/out-home-hardwood-floors-23952.html).
So how can you tell if your home is hiding hardwood? First, before jumping right in, consider whether or not its likely your home ever had hardwood floors. Be practical. If your home is relatively new (built within the last 10 to 15 years) there probably isn’t hardwood under the carpet. Honestly, the older the house the better your chances probably are. Wall-to-wall carpeting first became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, so if your house was built before that you very well may have hardwood floors under the carpet.
If you are shopping for a new home and want to know if there is hardwood beneath the carpets, be careful! Keep in mind that you may not be able to simply take the seller’s or realtor’s word for it. While a realtor probably isn’t going to flat out lie about something, he or she simply may not know for certain. Check with the reality associations in your area to see what kind of rules and regulations are in place – in some areas, if a realtor misrepresents anything about a home (either intentionally or merely by not verifying the facts) he or she can suffer disciplinary action. If those types of procedures are in place a realtor is more likely to know the facts.
In addition, pay close attention to the wording in listings. If a listing says something like “hardwood throughout per seller” that probably means that according to the seller there’s hardwood under the carpet but the realtor hasn’t verified this and it may or may not be true. Once in a house there are a couple of different ways you can check for hardwood floors. If a house has heating registers on the floor, try removing one. Under the register, the carpet will not be secured by anything. Pull a bit of the carpet back and see what type of flooring is beneath. Remember, while this may be a quick and easy way to find out what’s under the carpet, it will not give you an idea of what condition the flooring is in.
Another way to check is to pick an inconspicuous corner and, while wearing work gloves to protect your hands, use a pair of pliers to pull the carpet back a little bit. This method will offer a slightly better look at the flooring beneath and its condition than the first method. If you’re looking at houses and lifting up the floor register or pulling back a corner of carpet simply isn’t an option, try checking the closets.
Sometimes, wall-to-wall carpeting didn’t extend into the closet. If a closet has a hardwood floor the rest of the room probably does as well. If you do have hardwood floors underneath your carpet, congratulations! In our next post we’ll talk about some things to consider before just ripping up that carpet.