Project Guide

How to Remove Carpet

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1
Prepare and Clear the Space
A person removing a baseboard with a pry bar.

When considering how to remove carpet, keep in mind that you will need to dispose of the old materials. Find out if your area has a carpet recycling program. If there isn’t a program available, be sure to check with your trash hauler before starting your project. Some trash collectors will take away short rolls of carpet from your curbside. Otherwise, you may have to take the rolls to a landfill or recycling center yourself.

 

  • Remove any doors – including closet or bathroom doors – that open into the room where you’ll be ripping up carpet. 
  • Move all furniture from the room and anything else on the floor so you have a clear area to work in. 
  • Use a pry bar to carefully remove any baseboards and shoe mouldings. If you plan to reuse them, place them somewhere out of the way until they can be reinstalled. 
2
Cut Carpet into Strips
A person using a utility knife to cut through carpet.
  • Use a utility knife to cut the carpet into thin, manageable strips.  
  • Drive the knife through the carpet backing, while being careful not to hit the subfloor underneath. 
3
Pull Up and Roll Carpet
A person removing and rolling up a strip of carpet.

Put on a pair of sturdy work gloves to start pulling up carpet in a corner of the room. The work can be dusty, so wear a dust mask and safety glasses.

 

  • Use pliers to tightly grab the carpet. 
  • Pull toward you to detach it from the sharp tack strip that holds it to the floor along the wall. 
  • When the corner of the carpet is loose, use your gloved hands to pull along the length of the wall until all edges of the strip of carpet are free of the tacks. 
  • Roll up the strip of carpet. Cut through the carpet backing as needed if you couldn’t cut through it completely in the last step. 
  • Secure the carpet roll with duct tape, bag it and remove it from the room.  
  • Continue pulling up carpet from the tack strips in sections and rolling it up. 


How to pull up carpet from stairs:

 

  • Begin at the top of the stairs. 
  • Pry up the metal nosing and remove it, if present. If not, cut the carpet near the top of the top stair riser. 
  • While wearing work gloves, grab the cut end of carpet and pull it from the stairs. 
  • If the carpet is in one continuous piece, cut off manageable pieces as you remove it. 
  • Roll, duct tape, bag and remove the old carpet. 
4
Remove Tack Strips if Needed
A person using a pry bar to remove carpet tack strips.

If you’re replacing your old carpet with new wall-to-wall carpet, the existing carpet tack strips can usually remain in place. If the tack strips are rusted, rotted or otherwise damaged, remove and replace them. If you’re installing a different type of flooring, remove the tack strips completely.

 

  • Use a hammer and a paint scraper to create enough space underneath a tack strip to fit a prybar.  
  • Pry up the tack strips. 
  • Throw out the tack strips into a heavy-duty trash bag. 


Safety Tip: Always wear work gloves when removing tack strips. Not only are the tacks sharp, but the wood strips can splinter as you’re removing them. 

5
Remove Carpet Padding
A person using pliers to remove carpet staples from old carpet padding.

Remove carpet padding in sections like you did with the carpet. It should be replaced even if it appears to be in good shape.


If you have wood subfloors, the padding is installed onto the subfloor with hundreds of staples. Some may come loose when you pull up the pad, but most will remain stuck in the floor. If you have a concrete subfloor, the padding is glued into place.

  

  • Use pliers to remove the staples near the walls. 
  • A long-handled floor scraper with a sharp blade can make quick work of the staples. With a motion similar to using a push-broom, go around the entire room to slice off or yank out the staples with the scraper.  
  • You can also use a specialized tool called a carpet staple remover. 
  • When removing carpet padding from concrete, use a floor scraper to remove the pieces of padding that remain stuck to the floor. Tough spots might require commercial adhesive remover or a power oscillating tool. 
  • Use pliers to pull padding staples when removing carpet from stairs. 
  • Roll up the carpet padding and dispose of it with the rest of the carpet. 


Tip: With the carpet padding removed, now is a good time to identify and fix any loose or squeaky subfloor panels before the new floor covering is installed.  

Now that you know how to remove carpet, you’re ready to renovate the flooring in any room. Upgrade your room with new indoor carpet or get a new look with luxury vinyl planks or hardwood.  


If you need to haul away the old carpet yourself, don’t worry about transportation. Rent a van or truck from The Home Depot truck rental