When spring is in the air, there’s no better time to rip up old wall-to-wall carpeting and bring freshness with a new range, or even put down tiles or a laminate floor. Whatever a homeowner and DIY hobbyist’s choice, taking up an old worn carpet is the best way to give your home a décor lift. You can remove an old carpet in a few easy steps.
Remove furniture and drapery from the room before pulling up the carpet. Set out tools nearby. Check the wall edges of the carpet, door threshold, and inside the wardrobe. Rip the carpet up from a corner and work towards the middle of the room. Wear safety gloves, glasses, and knee protectors.
No doubt you’ve been there and know how one can’t wait to redo a carpeted bedroom floor. For home repair enthusiasts, replacing an old grubby carpet and replacing it with a new up-to-date one, or even fancy tiling or flooring is a worthwhile project. Below is a list of tools you’ll need and a 10-step guide on how to get that carpet out in preparation for a new-look bedroom.
Top Tip: Lifting an old shabby carpet is the best way to give your home a décor facelift. If you’re removing the worn-out carpet on a suspended floor, check the floor for loose or sagging joists and boards before re-carpeting. Fix these first for tip-top home improvement.
- Gloves (1 – 2 pairs, depending on how many people are working)
- 2x Dusk mask
- 5-10 shank nails and 5-10 2-inch deck screws (optional)
- Large utility bags
- Retractable Utility knife with sharp blades
- Reel of adhesive Duct or ‘duck’ Tape
- 6-inch sharp-nosed pliers or pincers
- 15-inch Pry bar with flat and bent ends
- A paint scraper
- Medium-sized flat-nosed screwdriver
- Light lasher hammer with a firm grip
Kneel down and work as close to the carpet on the floor as possible. Take care not to strain your back.
Step 1: Start in the Corner Furthest from the Entrance Door
Walk over and survey the look of the carpet. Put on your gloves and safety glasses, and strap a pair of knee guards over your jeans. Kneel down on the carpet in the corner, the furthest from the door opening. Now, use your hands to see if you can lift the carpet away from the wall. You must be able to pull this corner bit of carpet towards you.
You can try for a short time. If you can't pull the carpet up by hand from the corner, get the utility knife with a retractable blade to cut an opening in the carpet at this corner. By the way, the knife is designed to cut carpets without damaging your knuckles.
Step 2: Cut a Notch Into the Carpet at This Point
Cut a little notch in the corner if you can't pull the carpet back by hand. This is easy, and best to make sure the area you cut is large enough to fit your hands.
Measure roughly 5 inches from the adjoining walls along the carpet's top. Mark the spots on either side and then use these points to make a perfect 5x5 inch square. Use the utility knife to cut the square out.
Hold the utility knife with a sharp blade firmly. Use both hands to cut along the lines into the carpet. Then, lift the square notch out. The square opening must be big enough for you to get your hands in.
Put your hands in and grab hold of the carpet from the sides of the opening. It takes strength to pull the carpet back. You must get the carpet away from the tack strips against the wall.
Step 3: Pull Back the Carpet Towards the Centre of the Room
Hold the carpet firmly in your hands. You must stand with your knees semi-bent and one leg in front of the other. When you are steady, grab and pull the carpet back. Tug the carpet toward the center of the room.
This stage of removing the carpet also can be done differently. Instead of working with the carpet as a whole, you can do the lifting in sections. From where you start, lift a width of 2-3 feet of carpet all along one wall. Fold this back and cut along the fold with the sharp utility knife. You can repeat this and remove the carpet section by section.
Lifting the carpet section by section is easier to roll up, bind with ‘duck’ tape and lighter to carry out of the room, and trash. It’s different when you do the carpet as a whole.
Step 4: Work Along Walls to Free Carpet From Tacked Edging
This part takes muscle power – a firm grip with both hands, strength in one’s forearms, and biceps to tug back the carpet. Remember to contract your torso, stand steadily on your feet and watch out for your back. This movement can injure you. Systematically loosen the sides of the carpet along the walls.
Now you might be thinking of how to get the carpet out of the room. Well, lay the carpet flat in its original position. This is best because of the size of the carpet, which, in an average-sized bedroom, is 12 ft. wide by 14 – 16 ft. long
The average-sized wall-to-wall carpet is 168 – 192 sq. ft. It weighs a ton!
You must ensure you can carry such a large carpet to the trash bin. It might not be easy to move the heavy carpet down a passage crowded with displays or into a stairwell and down a set of stairs.
Luckily other DIYs have also removed large carpets, and one can undoubtedly learn from their hands-on expertise.
Step 5: Lay Pulled-up Carpet Flat in Room and Cut Equal Sections
The best place to lay the lifted carpet flat is where it was before. This is also a good starting point to make removing the carpet from the room easier. There’s a tried-and-tested way. Start from the width, and for a carpet of 12 x 14 feet, you will make a section of three feet each. Fold the loosened carpet (on the width) back three feet. Do this for the length of the width.
Once folded a third in, you use the sharp utility knife to cut along the fold. Use both your hands to cut along the fold. Then roll up the cut carpet tightly and ‘duck’ tape. Carry the rolled carpet out.
Step 6: Continue Folding and Cutting to Remove Carpet
There's more space for maneuvering once you get the first section out. The rest is done section by section. The remaining two-thirds of the carpet must be tackled similarly - cut, rolled, and 'duck'-taped to move to the trash bin. These manageable-sized bits of carpet can easily be trashed. The job, however, is not done yet!
Step 7: Pulling up the Under-Layer or Padding
This is where you must be careful and wear safety gloves. Make sure you wear a mask. It's also the most niggle part of the process. And, if you're prone to allergies, be warned, there’s dust and lurking dust mites.
The undercover or padding is often in a poor state, fraying and broken, and sometimes rotting from liquid spilled on the carpet or moldy from cleaning fluid that didn't dry after washing the fitted carpets.
Wear gloves when you lift the padding. The gloves protect you against sharp staples that can easily prick your fingers or scratch your hands. It would be best to hack the padding back from the edging where it's been stapled or tacked down. Sometimes smaller pieces of padding are tacked down in smaller frames. You can remove the padding block-by-block.
The smaller, run-down padding pieces or underfelt must be rolled up and put into a large, strong utility bag. These can be trashed. The other bits, also much lighter than the carpet, can be folded, rolled up, taped, and put into utility bags.
Step 8: Pulling off the Underlay From the Tack Strips
Tack strips keep fitted carpets in place and are put around the edge of a room. Sometimes cross-tacking that's widely spaced is put on the floor, too. Removing the tack strips is a time-consuming process.
The strips often are nailed down or glued, but they also can be screwed down. The tacks are commonly hit at an angle toward the wall. Take care when removing these; you might need to use a pry bar and a hammer. Be careful not to damage the wall with the pry bar.
The hammer is handy. You can use the flat side of a pry bar to get in underneath the wooden strips. You can hit the pry bar to get the bar deep underneath the tack strip. This allows you to remove these strips with the tacks more easily.
If the tack strips are nailed down, you must use the hooked end of the pry bar to lift the nails out. Use a screwdriver to take the screws out. Put the tack strips in a utility bag for quick removal to the trash bin.
Step 9: Use Sharp-Nosed Pliers to Remove Loose Staples
Sharp-nosed pliers are handy for removing staples, nails, and bits of wood tacking. Remove staples, screws, tack strips, and difficult-to-lift padding. Ensure the floor is free from tacking edging and even bits of underpadding that might have been glued down.
Step 10: Inspect the Floor for Faults on Joists or Concrete Under-Floor
This step is essential for the next stage in preparation for laying a new carpet or putting down laminate or wood flooring. Bounce lightly on a wood-suspended floor and listen out for squeaks. You can easily find the joists (where floor nails or screws are) and line up a shank nail or two, and secure the boards down. Or use a 2-inch deck screw to stop the squeaking.
Also, look out for damage to the concrete under-floor. Using a pry bar and a hammer, pulling out nails, and levering out screws can damage the concrete floor.
Additional YouTube video:
The Spruce: What Is a Carpet Tack Strip?