Removing carpet to prepare for new carpet or hard flooring

Here is what you will need: Gloves, mask or face covering, utility knife/ box cutter, needle nose pliers, hammer, chisel or flat head screwdriver, trash bags, broom and dustpan, and a large trash can or ability to go to a dump

Small caveat: removing carpet is not difficult in and of itself. However, it is dirty and arduous. Be prepared to break a sweat and get dirty.

Step 1: Clear the space of all furniture.

Step 2: Wearing gloves and a mask, use your utility knife/ box cutter to cut the carpet into 2-3 foot strips. If possible, cut all the way to the slab through the carpet pad. This will make the carpet easier to pick up and move later on.

Step 3: Using needle nose pliers, pinch the carpet at one corner and pull up to remove the carpet from the tack strip.

Step 4: Roll up the carpet and pad to remove the sections. Depending on the quality and age of the carpet padding, it might break apart. Be prepared to clean up bits of the carpet pad and lots of dust.

From this point, you have two obvious paths forward. Either you plan to reinstall carpet or you plan to install a hard surface like tile or vinyl. If you plan to reinstall carpet, read through steps 5-7. If you plan to install a hard surface, jump to step 8.

Step 5: Once the carpet and pad are cleared out, examine the tack strip. If it is in good condition you might not need to replace it. Additionally, you can remove and replace areas where the tack strip is damaged so as to avoid the time and labor needed to remove the tack strip.

Step 6: To remove any damaged tack strip, use a chisel or flat head screwdriver and a hammer to remove the tack strip. Depending on the installation, the tack strip might have nails connecting it to the slab or sub-flooring. Place the flat head beneath the tack strip where you see a connecting nail. Tap the end of the screwdriver, start gently and add more pressure as needed. Once beneath the tack strip, lift up to pop out other nails. It is possible to remove large spans of the tack strip using this method but you will have to repeat it as needed.

Step 7: If your carpet pad was glued to the subflooring or slab, remove any pieces that remain using a paint scraper. You do not need to remove the glue. Sweep up and you are done! Congratulations! Now you are ready to install your new carpet!

Plan to install a hard, non-carpet flooring? Read below!

Step 8: Once the carpet and carpet pad are cleared out, use a chisel or flat head screwdriver and a hammer to remove the tack strip. Depending on the installation, the tack strip might have nails connecting it to the slab or sub-flooring. Place the flat head beneath the tack strip where you see a connecting nail. Tap the end of the screwdriver, start gently and add more pressure as needed. Once beneath the tack strip, lift up to pop out other nails. It is possible to remove large spans of the tack strip using this method but you will have to repeat it as needed.

Step 9:  At this point, you have removed the carpet and tack strip. Congrats! The carpet installer might have glued down the pad. If that is the case, you will need to use a chisel, box cutter (I found that a paint scraper worked well), or even a paint scraper to remove the glue. This is tedious, but you will need to remove all the glue and remaining carpet padding fragments. This doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, but any remaining glue will cause leveling issues with your floor.

Step 10 : Sweep the dust and fragments away and pour yourself a giant glass of water. You’ve earned it! Now you are ready to install your hard surface flooring.

Removing carpet is a lot of work, but depending on the size of the carpeted space, it can save you a lot of money. Many places charge about $1.00 per square foot to remove carpet, and will likely charge additional to take the carpet to a dump. This doesn’t seem like much, but if you are removing the carpet from an entire house, those dollars add up quickly.

 

 

 

 

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