When your carpet is worn or dated, you are selling up, or simply when you're just tired of it and need a change, removing the existing carpet is almost always a prerequisite for putting in most types of new flooring.
While you can always hire professionals to remove it, taking out wall-to-wall carpeting is very much a DIY-friendly project. Read on for tips on how to remove carpet without calling out the professionals.
Equipment / Tools
- Pry bar
- Utility knife with spare blades
- Heavy gloves
- Shop vacuum with dust filter
- Dust mask
- Duct tape
Wear Protective Gear
Carpet removal can be dirty since dust and fine sand work through the fibers and down to the padding and subfloor. So wearing a dust mask is recommended. Because of the flying nails from tack strip removal, you will need eye protection, too. Tack strips have extremely sharp nails, so thick and heavy gloves are also recommended.
Prepare to Remove the Carpet
Remove all furniture from the room. Clear out a pathway between the room and the outside. Decide where you will put the removed carpeting. It's always best to place it in a dry location to avoid waterlogged carpeting, which is heavy to carry.
Remove the Baseboards
Baseboards, shoe molding, and other wall trim around the perimeter of the room cover the edges of the carpet and prevent removal. Gently remove the baseboards or other trim such as quarter-round or shoe molding and set them safely aside.
Pull Back the Carpet
Use the hook end of the pry bar to grab a corner of the carpeting and pull it back. Once you have a grip on the carpet, set the pry bar aside. Pull back the carpeting about 2 feet or as far as is needed for the carpeting not to fall back. It helps to have an assistant pull back the carpeting with you as this material is heavy and hard to manage.
Cut the Carpet Into Strips
With the utility knife, cut off the entire strip of peeled-back carpeting 2 feet wide by the length of the room. Cut on the backside of the carpet. Keep the line as straight as possible, though you only need to do so by eye; no need to measure it out. Roll up this 2-foot strip, and use duct tape around the roll to secure it if necessary. Then, place it in your disposal location. Continue in this manner until the carpeting has been removed.
Remove the Carpet Tack Strips
Wearing protective eye gear, force the flat end of the pry bar under the tack strips. Either pull up on the pry bar or hit the end with the hammer to pull the tack strips loose. Tack strips have razor-sharp nails, so wear the heavy gloves and be very careful when disposing of them.
Remove the Carpet Padding
Pull back an edge of the carpet padding. Bring it about 3 to 4 feet out, and then cut it away. Carpet padding is much lighter than carpeting, so you will be able to remove more of it at once.
Remove Carpet Adhesive
When pulling back the carpet padding, it can stick because it is held on the subfloor with adhesive. Use the flat end of the pry bar or a putty knife and force it between the padding and the subfloor to loosen it. You may find it difficult to remove all of the adhesive. As long as you remove enough so that the subfloor is flat, you will be able to install most types of new flooring on top of it.
Dispose of the Carpet and Padding
Your community may have restrictions on disposing of carpeting and padding in the regular garbage pickup. Not only that, carpeting and padding are heavy and bulky. It's usually more effective and convenient for you to hire a hauling company to dispose of the debris. Alternatively, if you have a lot of carpeting to remove, you may decide to rent a roll-off dumpster.
Clean the Flooring
Adhesive may remain on the subfloor. This can be scraped away with the putty knife. Broken nails from the tack strip that remain in the subfloor can either be pounded down or pulled out. Sweep the floor with a broom and clear out corners with the shop vacuum. Wear the dust mask while doing so, as mold and mildew can develop under carpeting. When dried, mold and mildew can create dust.