Hardwood floors offer timeless good looks, fantastic durability and can complement any decor with the addition of rugs and other floor coverings. If you live in an older home, it's possible that carpeting was installed over the original hardwood floors. Whether you're preparing to sell your home and want to increase its perceived value or you're looking for a decorative change, pulling up old carpet to reveal the hardwood floor underneath can yield big benefits. It can also be a serious commitment. Before you start yanking out your carpeting, read the following tips to keep this home improvement project under control:

Carpet is difficult to remove

There's a reason most people don't remove carpeting unless they're undergoing mold inspections or other hardship. It is often impossible to judge how problematic a removal job will be until you've started the work. 

The carpeting will likely be both nailed and glued to the floor, and this combination leads to a litany of problems. Before you invest all your time into removing the carpet, pull up a small bit to learn what's underneath. Even if you have solid hardwood floors, the adhesive used to install the carpet may have created unsightly finish issues. 

If the hardwood is in good shape, your largest concern will be the nails used around the carpet's perimeter. You will want to remove all of them, and that task can be difficult, especially if the nails rusted and broke apart. 

Get ready to clean

Ripping up the carpet is only the first step in this type of renovation. The floor itself will be very dirty and caked in residual glue and carpet padding that did not come up originally. This requires extensive cleaning, which could reveal hidden damage to the wooden floorboards. Make sure the floor is entirely clean and any damage has been repaired before you advance to the next step. It's possible you'll discover the boards are too warped or thin to refinish. Fixing those issues will require the help of a professional. 

Refinish the boards

You'll want to protect your new floor with an oil or polyurethane finish. While you can apply these finishes yourself, it is an arduous and time consuming process. If you are concerned about your abilities, contact a flooring service that can ensure the finishing job keeps your new floor looking good for the years to come.