I ripped up a portion of my carpet and found wood underneath. Problem is: I can't tell if what I'm looking at is just subflooring or potentially the original hardwood. I've ask people who know more about flooring than I do and have gotten mixed responses. So before bringing in an expert, is there another way I can tell? I'd love to have them restored.

Details about what I see/feel

  • Feel rough to the touch, like it's unfinished (at least in the part I can feel)
  • Seems to run under the tile in the adjoining bathroom
  • There's a visible nail
  • It appears to be planks - I can see the splits between the different planks

enter image description here (I am painfully aware this needs a good vacuuming... This isn't a very used part of the house so the pet hair gets ignored for long periods of time)

Possibly helpful details about house:

  • California (deep country, not the city)
  • House was built in 1968
  • House was remodeled in 2017, that's when the carpet was put down (I think, we only bought it a couple years back) - Edit: The remodel was DIY, so "best practice" isn't exactly a factor here.
  • No basement, no floor vents


OK, first off, thank you everyone who has taken just as much of interest as to what is under my carpets as I have. So, the portion in the attached photo is in a doorway, so it's not quite as simple as a corner of the room. Instead of lifting more of that area, I went into the closet and ripped the carpet. I was surprised to find what is DEFINITELY plywood under there. The look and feel is completely different than what is pictured and when I tap it, it feels different (more hallow?) than when I tap what is pictured above (which feels sturdy). The flooring under my closet carpet is like what IKEA furniture is made of. And after comparing a couple of closets, the base of the carpet sits about 1/4" higher than the room flooring. Is it unusual to have different kinds of subflooring?

Crazy concept/question: I KNOW the previous home owners did their own remodeling. I went around the house comparing floor height, floor moulding, and firmness under my feet... is it possible that someone doing their own floors who didn't know much about flooring put additional subfloor on top of hardwood in some locations? Keep in mind, I know absolutely nothing about flooring myself so for all I know this could be standard procedures. Alternative: I pulled up another side of the same room as pictured. It also appears to be plywood, and looks completely different than the picture. About halfway through the room, there's a distinct difference in the way the floor feels. I wonder if part of the subfloor was repaired/replaced when the carpet was put in...

  • 1
    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Added!
    – Vanderbeam
    Oct 15, 2021 at 19:10
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    One nail in that location doesn't mean it's all full of exposed nails. Peel back the carpet to expose an area at least 3'x3'. If it's plywood sheeting that will be obvious. Otherwise if it's planks, and if the gaps are not unacceptably wide, sand the exposed area. Then decide if you like the way it looks. Nails or no nails, maybe it will be "rustic". Maybe you'll hate it. Wet it a little to get a glimpse of what it might look like if treated. Not authentic but better than dry sanded wood. If you like it, voila, it's not a subfloor.
    – jay613
    Oct 15, 2021 at 19:35
  • Also, "no basement" means what? Slab? Crawlspace? Wood planks on slab is definitively not a subfloor, even if it looks terrible :)
    – jay613
    Oct 15, 2021 at 19:50
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    Yes, not all subfloor is plywood sheathing, it could be planks but not finished flooring. Subfloor planks are typically rough, have gaps between the planks (1/4" or so), and run diagonally to the joists.
    – Glen Yates
    Oct 15, 2021 at 20:29
  • @jay613 Haha, sorry had to mention that because before I came here I did tons of Googling trying to figure it out and most articles are always instruct to either "lift up a floor vent" or "go down to your basement and..." and I don't have either so I wanted to cut those suggestion off at the pass :P I have a slab foundation, but just not like... an additional room below my house
    – Vanderbeam
    Oct 15, 2021 at 20:58

1 Answer 1



Based on the knots and then the nail there is the nail in the coffin. I would say 99.9% chance subfloor. If you pull it back another 12" we can give you a 100%.

  • Augh, such a disappointment. I was really excited at the potential, too! I'll see what I can do after work. What's currently lifted is actually just the work of my cats scratching at the carpet to try and get into the bathroom. When I get home, I'll lift more of it to get further back. But just in case I can't, thank you both for all your help!
    – Vanderbeam
    Oct 15, 2021 at 19:23
  • It could be cabin grade planks with nails which would be technically considered hardwood. However most people put cabin grade planks in the same boat with plywood subflooring. (and actually in some parts of the country way back when... cabin grade planks were used as subfloor, albeit probably not referred to as cabin grade planks)
    – DMoore
    Oct 15, 2021 at 19:52
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    They say beauty is in the eye. If you like the looks of it, can play around a bit with it, sanding, staining. Does look like nice grain. Pull back a decent section of carpet and see, much cheaper than buying a new floor.
    – crip659
    Oct 15, 2021 at 20:21

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