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Removing Old Carpet

removing old carpet text graphic overlaid stock image of dog on carpet

If you are investing in new flooring, you’re already spending hundreds of dollars on replacing your old flooring. It can be cost-effective to remove the old carpet yourself before installing the new flooring and it’s easier than you might imagine. This easy 4-step guide (+ a few extra tips) will teach you how to successfully remove your old carpet and how to discard it in an environmentally-conscious manner. 

Removing Carpet Step #1: Remove everything from the room

After checking with your contractor if you’re having the carpet professionally installed to make sure that removing the carpet yourself will save you money, you want to start by clearing the floor. This means removing all furniture from the rooms and also taking off the doors that swing into the room including bi-fold doors. 

Also in preparation for removing your carpet, you should put on some gloves to protect your hands from the rough backing of the carpet and wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling the carpet dust as well as safety goggles to protect your eyes. 

Removing Carpet Step #2: Remove floor stripping

The stripping that holds the carpet in place was likely nailed or screwed in. Starting in one corner of the room, grab the carpet with pliers and pull. You could alternatively use a flat pry bar and pry up several tacks at a time. 

Removing Carpet Step #3: Pull, cut, and tuck

Now, grab the carpet by (gloved) hands and continue to pull the carpet and underlying pad foam up along the entire length of the wall. Make sure to pull upward and if you find that it sticks in certain spots - which can often happen if the subflooring is warped - use a utility knife to cut it into easy-to-handle strips. We recommend cutting the carpet from the back rather than the front; it’ll be much easier. Make sure you’re also collecting the padding underneath as you go. 

Continue this process of pulling up the carpet and foam padding, cutting it from the back into smaller manageable strips, and folding it.

Removing Carpet Step #4: Clear the subfloor

You may find, particularly if the subflooring is concrete, that large chunks of the pad may have stuck to the floor. This is the result of the padding being glued in place and is easy to remove with a floor scraper. 

If the subflooring is plywood or particleboard, there will be hundreds of staples that you’ll have to remove. You can do so with pliers but this can take forever. For a quicker solution, use a sharp-bladed floor scraper. 

Removing carpet from stairs

In order to remove carpet from stairs, start at the top and remove the metal nosing. It should be pretty easy to remove but if there is no metal nosing, cut the carpet near the top of the riser, grab the end you cut, and pull the carpet and pad away from the stairs by hand. After the carpet and padding have been ripped off, pull the staples out using pliers. You can use the same method to cut the carpet into strips and roll it up. 

What to do with your old carpet

Americans dump five billion pounds of carpet into landfills each year so in order to save the environment, we’ve got some alternatives for you: