How to Remove Carpet Without Professional Help

Lady removing carpet from a room

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Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 3 - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife with spare blades
  • Heavy gloves
  • Hammer
  • Shop vacuum with dust filter
  • Dust mask

Instructions

  1. Wear Your 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.

  2. 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.

    Tip

    Vacuum the carpet before removing it. Removing carpet kicks up dust and debris, including mites and dry mold, from the carpet.

  3. 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.

    Tip

    Sequentially number the back of each piece of trim to aid in replacement.

  4. 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 two 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.

  5. Cut the Carpet Into Strips

    With the utility knife, cut off an entire strip of carpeting two feet long by the width 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 two-foot strip and place it in your disposal location. Continue in this manner until the carpeting has been removed.

    Tip

    Change the blade on the utility knife frequently as cutting carpet quickly wears down blades.

  6. 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.

  7. Remove the Carpet Padding

    Pull back an edge of the carpet padding. Bring it about three to four 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.

  8. 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 new flooring on top of it.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.