Removing old carpet from a room is a relatively easy project that you can generally accomplish in a morning or afternoon on your own, depending on the size of the room (add some extra time if you’re removing carpet padding, too).
Can I Remove Carpet Myself?
Taking on this task yourself will not only save you money, but it’ll also give you the opportunity to inspect the subfloor and address any issues before the new carpet or flooring is installed.
Steps for Removing Carpet
1. Clear the Space and Put on Your Protective Gear
- Start by removing all the furniture from the room, then take down any doors that open into the room, including bi-folds.
- Put on a pair of safety gloves and knee pads to protect yourself during this task—there will be many stray tacks to watch out for.
- Wear a face mask if you’re sensitive to dust particles, which will be released when you pull up the carpet.
2. Detach the Carpet from the Tack Strip
The carpet is held in place by tack strips along the perimeter of the room. To detach it:
- Pick a corner, grab the carpet with a pair of pliers, and pull. If the carpet comes up easily, grab it by your hand and continue pulling it up.
- If it doesn’t come up easily, use a utility knife to cut a 6-inch square in the corner.
- Remove the piece, then pull up the carpet by hand.
3. Cut the Carpet into Strips
- Pull back about 3 feet of carpet and use a utility knife to cut it along the fold. (Cut from the back of the carpet, which provides an easier surface to work with than the front.)
- Roll up the cut pieces and use duct tape to secure the rolls.
- Continue removing the carpet in this way. If you come to a metal transition that separates the carpet from other flooring or carpeting, cut the carpet and leave the transition alone.
- If there’s a closet in the room, cut the carpet at the closet door.
- Pull up the piece in the closet separately.
4. Remove the Carpet Pad
If there’s carpet padding to remove, follow the same steps as for removing the carpet. Padding generally comes in smaller pieces, so it’ll be easier to handle, and it’s a much lighter material, so you may be able to roll several pieces together at once.
- If the floor is made of concrete, the pad will be glued down, and big chunks may remain stuck to the concrete. Use a sharp-bladed floor scraper to remove the chunks. If the floor is made of particleboard or plywood, the pad will be held down by staples.
- Use the floor scraper to scrape them all up.
- And if the floor turns out to be hardwood and you want to preserve it, various tools will help you extract the staples without marring the wood, including a painter’s 5-in-1 tool, vise-grip pliers, and a small, flat-blade screwdriver, among others.
5. If Necessary, Remove the Tack Strips
After all the carpeting has been removed, examine the tack strips around the room. If they appear to be in good shape, you can leave them in place for the installation of the new carpet.
- If you find certain sections that are rusted or otherwise damaged, slide a pry bar under the tack strip and pop it up; the carpet installers can install new ones.
- If you plan on replacing the old carpet with another kind of flooring, such as wood, tile, or laminate, you’ll need to remove all the tack strips from the room.
What Tools Do I Need to Remove Carpet?
To remove carpet you’ll need the following safety equipment and tools:
- Protective gloves
- Knee pads
- A dust mask
- Utility knife
- Duct tape
- Sharp-bladed floor scraper
- Flat pry bar
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