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How to Remove Carpet

How to Remove Carpet

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Removing wall to wall carpet in your home doesn’t have to be a difficult job. It can be beneficial to your health. According to the Huffington Post Men’s Health Report, the average indoor carpeting is about 4,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. With about 200,000 bacteria per square inch of carpeting. Dale Smith provides interesting statistics about carpeting: MERSA, campylobacter, and norovirus are found in dirty carpets along with dust mites, pollen, pet dander and mold. If you have pets, there's probably odors from dog urine or feces. The microorganisms can lead to health issues.

You don't necessarily need to hire carpet installers for this portion of the carpeting project. Homeowners who decide on DIY carpet removal can save time and money. Not only with you keep the cost down, you'll learn something about removing carpet along the way.

So, let’s get the old, dirty carpet out of the house and into a dumpster. Follow these steps for advice and tips about DIY carpet removal.

Tools You Will Need for Your Project:

  • A Painter’s tool, also known as a 5 in 1 or a 6 in 1 tool
  • A sharp utility knife to cut old carpet
  • Locking pliers or diagonal pliers
  • Duct tape for carpet rolls
  • Flat-head screw driver
  • Claw hammer
  • Small and large pry bar
  • Possibly an 8” razor scraper
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses to protect against staples
  • Dust mask to cover your nose and mouth
  • Possible help from someone like a friend or family member

Step 1: Getting Started on DIY Carpet Removal

Empty the room of all furniture and any curtains or drapes. It'll help the process if you remove doors and sliding closet doors. If you can’t remove all the furniture from the room, move it to one end and cover it with old sheets or a tarp.

If the room has a closet, you can lift up a corner of the old carpet to determine the sub floor underneath it. It might be hardwood flooring, old vinyl, regular subflooring, or cement. If you find old vinyl, have a piece of it checked for asbestos.

Remove any heating or cooling vents as well as any cold air return vents.

Check if the old carpet was installed under the baseboard. If so, carefully remove the baseboard. You may need your utility knife to score any caulk or paint that has sealed the baseboard to the painted drywall. Then gently begin to pry the baseboard away from the wall piece by piece. You may need a piece of 1/8” plywood to use as leverage against the drywall so you don’t damage it. Remove any excess caulk or paint from the edges along with any nails. Number the back of the baseboard and place a corresponding number on the wall to take account of placement. Reinstalling the baseboard will be easy with proper markers.

Step 2: How to Pull up Carpet

Be sure to have your dust mask on during this step. Have your gloves on if you're dealing with pet urine.

Unless you have found hardwood flooring under your carpet, use your utility knife to cut the carpet in 3-4 foot widths with your utility knife. It will be easy to roll up and duct tape the old carpet when you carry the rolls to the dumpster. If you have hardwood floors under the carpet, you will want to slice or cut the carpet in sections from the underside so you don’t mark the hardwood floors. While these marks can be sanded out, you don’t want to create any extra work for yourself.

Pull up a good portion and start to cut the carpet from the underside. It takes a good tug to pull the old carpet off the tack strips. Be careful; the tack strip is very sharp.

Continue to use your utility knife to cut as many sections of old carpet until you are down to the carpet padding underneath.

Step 3: Removing the Carpet Padding and Staples

The padding could be a felt or fiber type material or compressed foam. It will have been stapled to the flooring underneath, but it should come up easily. Little tufts of padding may be left under the staples. Removing all the staples is the most tedious part of the job, but you must get them all. A pair of pliers will usually pull them out, but you may need your flat head screwdriver. Slipping it under the staple and rolling it to one side should raise the staple enough that your pliers can grab hold of it and pull it out.

If you are pulling staples from a hardwood floor under your carpet, using diagonal pliers will prevent damage to the hardwood.

| For a look at removing other types of flooring, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Removing Floors |

Step 4: How to Remove Carpet a Tack Strip

To remove a tack strip, use your hammer to tap a small pry bar under the strip. Be sure to watch your fingers when using your hammer. Raise the tack strip from the floor. The tack strip can’t be removed in one piece; it will break up. Unless the tack strip is attached to hardwood floors, you could try using a shovel to pry it.

Wear your gloves. There are sharp nails on both sides of the tack strip. Toss the pieces in a bucket to prevent injury. The tack strip could puncture the sole of a shoe.

Once every tacking strip have been removed, sweep up the area and toss your old carpet along with the tack strips into the dumpster.

an infographic explaining the steps on how to remove carpet
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Step 5: What to Do if Your Carpet is Glued Down

Often carpets are glued down. This usually happens when the carpet has been installed over concrete in basements or office buildings. The ease of removal depends on the dryness of the glue. Carpet installed in this fashion usually can be torn out quite easily, but what’s left will have to be scraped off the surface. Depending upon how many layers of glue, it can be an easy or time consuming job. It may take you several days. Allow yourself plenty of time.

Step 6: Cleaning Up

There is one last post-project job after you've completed all the steps. Clean up all the debris and get it to your dumpster. You don’t want a person or pet getting hurt because pieces of tacking strips or staples have been left behind. You’ll probably have some dust on the walls and windows. You can wipe down the walls by putting a pillow case over a broom and sweeping them down. A little white vinegar in water will make the windows shine. Check the floors to make sure all staples are off the ground.

Leave the doors off in the room until you've installed the new carpet.

Make sure all of the rolls of old carpet is out of your home and all of the content is put into a dumpster. There's probably a good amount of material.

Final Thoughts

While hiring carpet installers to help on this carpeting project, home owners will be pleased to keep the cost down by ridding of the old carpet themselves.

Take some time to be proud of a carpet removal job well done. Now you’re ready for new carpet installation in your home.

| If you're removing carpet as part of a bigger interior demolition project, read our Ultimate Interior Demolition Guide 2021 |

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