How to Remove Old Carpet

tear out carpet

You purchased new carpet? That’s awesome! We recommend hiring an installer for that. BUT we recommend removing the old carpet yourself. You’ll save some money and it’s a good workout. Trust us!

Here is how a homeowner can remove old carpet quick and easy:

BEFORE YOU BEGIN!

First, remove all doors from the hinges and relocate them if the door swings into the room where you are tearing out carpet. If the door swings into a hallway or an adjacent room you can leave it in place. You should also remove everything from the room. This means furniture, tables, odds and ends. Everything! Then locate all of the tools you need and strap on some safety gear – including gloves, dust mask and knee pads. Trust us. You will want knee pads for this DIY project.

PULL! PULL! PULL!

Let’s get started. You should fold the carpet into strips and then cut along the strips. This will make it much easier to remove the carpet piece by piece from the room and from your home. The garbage men will appreciate this too. You can tape the fold over so the roll remains in place.

To detach the old carpet from tack strips on the floor and along the wall, grab a corner of the carpet with a pliers and pull. Nothing fancy. Just pull. Then pull with your bare hands for more leverage. Pull along the entire wall of the room. Then cut the carpet into manageable strips. Use a sharp blade for this for both safety reasons and ease. Don’t slice into the wall, the floor beneath or your hands!

Pull back the carpet into more strips. And more strips. And more strips. Cut carpet where it attaches to other strips of carpet. These are transition pieces. Leave metal transition pieces in place. There is a chance the installer can reuse them and you can save more money in the process.

Are you removing carpet from stairs? OK. Start at the top of the stairwell and remove the metal nosing at the top. Then you can pull the carpet off the stairs from the top to the bottom. Wear gloves for this for safety and to prevent staples from pinching. You will either remove the carpet in small sections or one singular strip depending on how the old carpet was installed. Once all of the carpet is removed from the stairs, it is time to remove all of the staples from the steps beneath.

You will also be tearing out the padding beneath the carpet. Cut the pad into strips the same way as you cut the carpet into strips. The pad will be glued into place if the floor beneath is concrete. In this case you will need to remove the glue from the floor too. This requires a floor scraper tool. You can buy a nice floor scraper for around $20-30 at most hardware stores. Trust us. It is worth the $$$. Scrapers come with very sharp blades and very blunt blades. You can decide which you prefer. We find both work fine.

The least fun part of this entire project is the staples. There will be hundreds and hundreds of staples on the particleboard or plywood floor beneath the old carpet and pad. You will want a pair of pliers at a minimum. But even that will take hours. Don’t even attempt to do this with your hands. You will burst into tears. The best tool is to use a floor scraper with a sharp blade. The blade removes or cuts the staples from the floor. Just be careful not to dig the blade into the floor itself for fear of permanent damage.

We recommend leaving the old tack strip. That is, unless the old tack strip is rotten or rusted. You don’t want any type of rot in your home and rust can actually bleed into the carpet above which would be a bummer for the new carpet being installed. You can also wait for the installer. He can then determine which tack strip is reusable and which needs to be replaced. Tack strip is cheap so if he does need to install it the cost won’t be too significant. In the long run, the cost savings of installing tack strip on your own is minimal. Might just be best left for a professional.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU NEED?

Here are the tools you need to remove old carpet from your home. Be sure to have all of the tools below before starting the project. Thanks for reading!

  • Dust mask
  • Knee pads
  • Locking pliers
  • Pry bar
  • Safety glasses
  • Utility knife

Jeremy Stevens