How to Remove Carpet, From Anything

Save Money and Get Rid of Your Old Carpet

Is your carpet getting old and worn-out? Sometimes accidents happen where terrible spills occur or maybe the carpet just looks stale. At this point, cleaning isn’t an option. You can instead remove the old carpet yourself. You don’t have to fork over a fortune to do it either. Doing it yourself can be simple and painless. Here’s exactly how to do it.

Before you begin

Before you even yank your old carpet, consult with an installer first to get an estimate on the project and whether or not a carpet cleaning is required. Carpet installers can also provide tips on dealing with sticky situations when it comes to carpet removal. In addition, look into whether or not trash haulers will take your carpet roll. If not, many cities have a recycling program dedicated to throwing away carpets. You may even consider deodorizing the carpet prior to removal to get rid of any nasty stench that can linger in your room.

If possible, remove doors that swing inside your room. This includes folding closet doors. However, if two rooms connect to one door, you may leave that door intact. Clear the deck by removing everything on top of the carpet such as furniture. For safety, make sure to wear gloves, so you don’t get cut from the rugged backings of a carpet. Also, beware of the carpet tack strips that generally have nails and screws sticking out. For those of you who are allergic to dust, consider wearing a disposable respirator or dust mask. It’s common to have a build-up of dust confined under the carpet for years before finally having it released upon removal. Doing professional cleanings can preserve your carpet longer and keep it look brand new. If you find it cumbersome to maintain, you may want to replace the carpet with laminate instead. Laminates do not absorb pollen and dust, which makes it easier to clean.

How to Remove a Carpet

First, take pliers and cinch the tooth of the pliers into the corner of the carper and pull to begin peeling the carpet off. Unfastening the carpet requires you to remove the outer layer from the tack strip that holds it together. Using the pliers, continue to pull the carpet across the wall. Fold the carpet back about 36 inches and then cut it up into thin strips using a heavy-duty retractable knife. Make sure to cut the carpet from the back instead of the front. Avoid scratching the wall when cutting.

Continue to repeat the steps of tearing out the carpet and then cutting it up. Once you reach a point where the carpet connects to another segment of the carpet, slice the ends of the carpet off. The carpet installer may consider leaving metal transitions alone if you have one, saving you $10 per transition on the total project. For carpets that don’t have a transition and are neatly intertwined with another segment, the installer can easily detach one piece from the other.

If you have carpet on your stairs, remove going from top to bottom. If there is a metal stair nosing that holds the carpet onto the stairs, remove that first. If the stairs don’t have a nosing, start by cutting the carpet from the top step. Then peel the carpet using your hand until you get to the bottom. Sometimes there are staples poking out that hold the carpet together. To be safe, wear padded gloves for protection. Sometimes pulling a long piece can be quite difficult. To make things easier, cut off the carpet into smaller pieces and repeat the tearing out process. Once you’ve completed the tearing process, yank out the staples using a pair of pliers. 

For the carpet pad, slice it up into thin strips and roll it up. Sometimes pads can stick onto your concrete floor. If that’s the case, then you’ll need a floor scraper to chisel the big sections off. Typically you can find scrapers at a home improvement store that ranges from $10 to $30 based on whether you decide to purchase a long or short-handled scraper. It also depends whether you’d like ones with a blunt blade or sharp blade. Both types of blade and scrapers will get the job done. 

If your room has a particleboard or plywood floor, just beware, you’ll find plenty of staples. When it comes to taking out staples, it’s more efficient to just use a sharp scraper to remove all of the staples at once rather than plucking them one by one. Make sure you scrap the entire floor and no loose staples are left. Occasionally, the scraper can scratch the floor. In this case, you use the square side of the scraper or tilt it at a slightly lower angle to avoid damaging the floor. 

For the most part, you should keep the tack strip intact, but there are a few instances where you may have to remove it. If the tack strip is splitting apart, rusty or decaying, it’s time to get rid of the entire strip or just cut off that particular section. When the strip is rusty, it can seep into the carpet leaving ugly stains. Also, consider getting rid of the tack strip when it’s a quarter of an inch or less from your baseboard. In order to tuck the borders of the carpet under the baseboard, there needs to be a quarter of an inch opening. For tack strip removals, you need to use a pry bar to prop it up. Home centers have carpet tack strips available that sell for about 20 cents per foot. However, it may be more convenient to use a professional installer such as Knight Flooring to handle the tack strip installation. 

Tools You Need for Carpet Removal 

Gather your tools together if you plan on tearing out the carpet yourself. Sometimes carpet removal isn’t necessary and it might just be easier to just do a bit of carpet cleaning instead. 

  • Sharp retractable knife
  • Safety goggles
  • Flat pry bar 
  • Pliers 
  • Knee pads 
  • Disposable respirator or dust mask