Carpet Removal Guide: Quick and Easy Step-By-Step Guide

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Whether you are doing it for aesthetics, a new atmosphere or for a new flooring, carpet removal may not be as simple as it seems.

This guide will take you through all the needed steps to get a professional, thorough carpet removal done in your home, a single room or just a section.

We will cover the tools needed, the process and what to look out for.

On top of that, we also cover subfloor inspections, what to do with carpet padding and answer your most common questions.

If you want to remove carpet, you are in the right place. Read on to find out exactly how to remove the carpet in your home.

Top Reasons to Remove Carpeting

There are many reasons you may wish to remove carpeting from your room or home. Here are the top motives for performing the task.

  • Soiling and stains. Over time, carpet can get stained, soiled or hold foul odors. Replacement may be the only cure.
  • Damage. Carpet that is thread-bare, develops holes or is beyond repair will need to be replaced.
  • New home. If you buy a home and move in, the existing carpet may not match your décor.
  • New flooring type. Perhaps the carpet isn’t good enough and you want to switch to LVP or hardwood, instead.
  • Subfloor repairs. The subfloor or foundation may become damaged and in need of repairs. Carpet removal may be the only way to access the damaged areas.

Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Properly Remove Carpeting

buyers guide remove carpeting
Before you start yanking on a corner of the carpet, there are several factors you need to consider. Below we look at the important factors you need to think about before you begin.

Carpet Removal Tools

There are a lot of tools on the market designed to aid in carpet removal. You won’t need hardly any of them, though. Instead of wasting your money, make sure you have clear intentions for your project. If you plan to reuse the carpet, for example, you won’t need prying tools for the tack strips.

Where to Remove Carpeting

You also need to decide where you will remove carpet and where it will stay. If you plan to do a complete removal, this won’t be much of a concern. However, if you plan to keep the carpet in adjacent rooms, you need to know where to cut, how deep and with which tools.

DIY or Professional Removal

If you are having a new flooring installed by a professional, carpet removal may be included in their fees. You can also hire a professional to remove and dispose of the old carpet for you even if they aren’t performing the new flooring install. Otherwise, carpet removal can be a DIY project for those with the desire and time.

Carpet Padding

Carpet padding tends to outlast carpet itself. If you are removing carpet to change the look, you may not need to change the carpet padding. In these instances, the removal is slightly different and your cuts are much more shallow and careful.

Subfloor Condition

Once the carpet is removed, you need to inspect your subfloor. This will tell you the condition and if any repairs or replacements are needed. Plan to perform a thorough inspection after your carpet is out of the way so you know what you are in store for when placing your new flooring.

New Floor Type

If you are replacing the carpet with more carpet, there are different removal steps needed. However, if you are installing a new floor type such as hardwood planks, laminate tiles or even linoleum, your removal process will be different.

Cost of Removal

In most cases the only expense you will have is the told needed to perform the removal. However, you need to double check proper disposal procedures, and there may be dumping or extraction fees for bulky items like carpet and padding.

How to Remove Carpet

how to remove carpet

Carpet removal isn’t exactly an art form, but it does take a slight bit of strength and skill. Almost all carpet is mounted using tack strips. While there are a few that are glued down, we will focus on the common removal methods here.

Just note that if you find your carpet is glued down, you will need to perform a few extra cuts around the glued areas. The important thing to remember is to go slow and be methodical in your cuts, using only the minimum needed to lift the carpet.

Preparations

Before you begin you need to make some preparations. The first thing you need to do is to remove anything that is on the carpet currently. All furniture, appliances, and even your pets need to be moved to another room while you remove the carpet.

You also need to clean the carpet. This sounds counter productive, but it will help you with the removal process. Kicking up extra dirt, dust and debris while you are on your hands and knees is never good for your respiratory health. Choose a good vacuum for carpet and give it a good cleaning.

Once the furniture is gone and the carpet is clean, you need to take the steps to protect yourself. Because you will be breathing air full of dust, carpet fibers and potentially hazardous chemicals (glue and solvents, for example), you need a good dust mask.

It is also wise to wear protective gloves to prevent cuts or injuries. Not only will you be using a razor blade or sharp knife, but the tack strips have exposed nail tips that may be rusty.

Tools Needed and When to Use Them

If you do not plan to reuse the carpeting, you can be a little more rough and careless with the removal. Using a utility knife to make cuts in the carpet is a chosen method. However, you will also need to know if you are keeping the carpet in certain areas or rooms.

If this is the case, you will need tack strips, a hammer, and transition molding in the areas the carpet will remain. Instead of transition molding or gold strips, as they are called, you may use doorway thresholds, or other decorative hold downs.

Where the carpet remains will need some type of molding or transition to ease from the carpet to the other flooring type. In most cases, these strips are placed over the carpet and nailed into the subfloor to secure them in place. The use of a tack strip under the carpet edge will also help the transition molding stay flush and secure.

If you do not want to use a razor blade, or utility knife, you will need a good pair of carpet shears. These thick, high-density scissors will be able to cut through carpet a lot easier than your sewing scissors.

Keep or Remove Padding

Before you make your first cut, you need to decide if you are keeping the carpet padding or not. If you are simply removing old carpet to replace with new carpet, the padding will generally be reused.

However, if you know the padding is soiled or damaged, or you just want to replace it with new, your cuts should penetrate the carpet and padding together.

Removing the Carpet

Once you are prepped, the carpeting has been cleaned, and you have your moldings, tools and knife, you are ready to begin.

  • The first step is to remove any current molding, baseboards or thresholds that cover or attach to the carpet you plan to remove.
  • Next, you want to cut the carpet where you plan to keep it. For example, if you are removing the carpet from the bedroom, but it will remain in the hallway, you want to cut the carpet in the middle of the door frame.
  • If the padding is being removed as well, ensure your cuts go through the padding, too. If the padding is to remain, grab the carpet fibers and lift up slightly when you cut to prevent cutting the padding.
  • Once all the cuts are made, make your way to a corner of the room and find the corner of the tack strip. Grab the carpet in the corner and pull straight up to release the carpet from the nails of the tack strip underneath.
  • Continue to lift and pull as you remove the carpet from the tack strip along an entire wall.
  • Once you have a good section removed you can begin rolling or folding the carpet as you pull it up, working backward from that first wall. The tack strips should run around the entire room, so you will need to pull harder on the edges.
  • Once the carpet is completely free of the tack strips and rolled or folded you can remove it from the room. Some owners find it easier to cut the carpet into smaller sections to aid in removal from the home.
  • Finally, you want to pull up the padding (if it isn’t staying) and remove it from the home as well.

Proper Disposal

After the carpet and padding are out of the home, you need to know how to properly dispose of it. You will need to check with your local city disposal company. Some require notice of large or bulk items, others may charge a disposal fee.

Some areas require you to bring the carpeting to the city dump or fill and dispose of it yourself. There may also be a fee for this, too. Because of the fibers and warmth carpet creates, it will quickly become home to pets, rodents, insects and other unwanted creatures. Make sure you dispose of the carpet and padding right away and keep it away from the home until you are able to dispose of it properly.

What to Look For When Carpet is Removed

what to look for when carpet is removed

Back inside, your newly exposed subfloor needs to be cleaned and inspected. You are looking for cracks, splintering, holes and damage. You also want to look for signs of mold or mildew, water stains and other signs of problems with moisture.

If found, you can treat these areas, clean with bleach to kill any mold or mildew and cover with a layer of mold inhibiting paint or treatments. Killz, for example, is a great product to kill mold and mildew while protecting the surrounding area from spore spreading.

After you have cleaned and inspected the subfloor and made any repairs or replacements, you can now prep the floor for the new installation.

New Floor Preparations

The final step before you can install new flooring is to remove the gluing and tack strips. In most cases, the gluing will be on the subfloor in the center of the room. Any common glue removal will work, but you may need to scrape or sand some areas clean.

For the tack strips a simple crowbar is generally all that is needed. You should lift the edges and then pull the center to remove the tack strips without splintering. However, if you are replacing the old carpet with new carpeting, the tack strips can (in most cases) be reused.

Once the tack strips are out and the subfloor has been cleaned of glue residue, you should vacuum the subfloor well and keep it clean until the new floor is installed. In most cases this will be the same day, but if the entire project is DIY it may take a lot longer.

True Cost of Carpet Removal

Assuming you aren’t removing the carpet yourself, how much does it really cost? According to Home Advisor, you can expect to pay about $60 per hour for professional carpet removal. This equates to about $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

The cost, though, also includes removal and disposal of the carpeting from the home. What it does not cover is furniture moving, subfloor inspection or repair and in some cases the glue and tack strips will be left behind.

You want to find a qualified contractor that will do a professional job and leave nothing behind. To get that, you will need to contact at least three companies and get estimates and a detailed outline of the removal process.

If you aren’t sure who to contact, feel free to use our professional contractor finder tool. This free to use app will put you in direct contact with flooring professionals in your area.

Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions about Removing Your Carpet

faq carpet removal guide

In this section we will answer some of the most common questions about carpet removal. If you have other questions, please use the comment section below the article.

Q. Does DIY carpet removal save money?

  1. In short, yes. If you can perform the removal yourself, you will save the contractors a few hours of time and effort when they come to install your new flooring. Those hours mean less labor fees, and it gives you time to inspect the subfloor before it is covered again.

Q. Do I have to remove baseboards when pulling up carpet?

  1. As a general rule, carpet runs up to the baseboards but not underneath. However, in some cases the baseboards were installed after the carpeting and will need to be removed before you can pull up the carpet.

Q. Should I remove old carpeting before painting the walls?

  1. It is usually best practice to remove and install new carpeting or flooring before painting the walls. Professional contractors prefer a finished floor when painting. It also saves you money from having to repaint or perform touch ups when carpet removal scratches or scuffs the freshly painted walls.

Q. How long does carpet last?

  1. On average a high-quality carpet that is well cared for will last about 15 years. Depending on the quality of the carpet, foot traffic and maintenance routines, most carpet should easily last 5 to 15 years on average.

Conclusion

Carpet removal is not a difficult process. It takes a few cuts, some pulling strength and proper disposal to perform correctly. However, the actual process should only take a couple of hours per room.

If you plan to install hardwood floors, brand new carpet or a different flooring type altogether, carpet removal is a must. Hopefully with the help of this guide, you understand now, what it takes.

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AUTHOR

Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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