Help, I Need to Remove My Carpets!


The removal of existing carpets within a residence is a common homeowner chore, that can be accomplished with a minimal amount of inherent skill, and can eliminate the costs of having the removal performed by the professionals.


The removal of an existing carpet is normally required if new carpet or another type of flooring is to be installed in the area of the existing carpet. Removal is not necessary if the carpet is simply dirty and needs to be cleaned. There are rental carpet shampooing units that can be rented at the local builders supply store, or in some parts of the country, the local grocery store. These rental units will come with the proper instructions, and the soap and other detergents can be purchased at the store that is renting the actual shampooing equipment.

If a simple wash is not the answer and the existing carpet must be removed;

Quick solutions

  • Identify the manner in which the carpet has been installed to the existing flooring. This could be a full adhesive installation, where the entire area of the carpet is adhered with a glue to the sub-floor. Another method of carpet installation is the installation of what is referenced as a tack strip along the perimeter of the room. This tack strip is a narrow strip of normally plywood, that is nailed down into the subsurface of the floor. This strip of plywood has sharp brads that are angled towards the perimeter walls which are located on the upper surface of the strip. The carpet is pulled ,with a special tool, at the perimeter by the installers, and allowed to retract back against the opposing brads, adhering the carpet to the floor.
  • Identify if the carpet has a carpet pad under the primary carpeting. A carpet pad is a hemp or synthetic layer of material that is installed under the carpet to provide a more comfortable and plush feel and architectural look to the finished carpet.
  • If the carpet is installed with a perimeter carpet tack strip, the pulling of the carpet at the edge, will dislodge the carpet from the barbs. The initial pulling up of the carpet, may require a couple of strong arms to pull the carpet and eventually dislodge the carpet from the brads. However, once the carpet removal has started, the remaining carpet will easily dislodge around the room.
  • If the carpet is a glue down carpet, the general pulling of the carpet to separate the carpet from the subfloor is required. There is no real secret or special method for this type of removal. Brute force is probably the best way to identify this method of carpet removal. Be very careful of your back when performed this task.
  • Once the carpet has been dislodged, either from the adhesive or the tack strips, start to roll the carpet up. The carpet should not be fully rolled into one large roll of carpet, due to its weight and cumbersome size. I recommend that as the carpet is rolled, a utility knife be used to cut the carpet on the top of the roll, to separate the entire carpet into manageable pieces. Cut the carpet on the top of the roll to prevent any marking, or cutting of the surface of the floor itself.
  • I prefer to cut the carpet into smaller pieces to allow easy disposal and movement of the carpet out of the residence.
  • The use of a roll of duct tape to secure each small roll of removed carpet also provides a more manageable disposal of the existing carpet.
  • Do not simply roll the carpet up, into a large, and cumbersome roll. This will prevent the carpet from fitting into the dumpster and will create a roll of very heavy carpet to move around, possibly causing injury.
  • Sweeping of the entire surface, where the existing carpet was located will be required. If the tack strip technique of installation was used, then the removal of the tack strips along the perimeter of the room is required. I suggest the use of a small pry bar to remove the tack strip. Wrap the portion of the pry bar that will encounter the floor with duct tape, to prevent the tool from damaging the floor. If the carpet was adhered with glue, normally the glue will come up with the carpet, if not, a dissolving solution may need to be applied to soften the adhesive from the floor.


Future considerations

  • I recommend that the tack strip method of carpet installation be used for ease of future removal.
  • In addition the use of a carpet pad is recommended to keep the existing flooring from being damaged with the foot traffic over the new carpet. This will provide a clean and damage free surface upon future removal.


Professional suggestions

  • Hire a professional company to remove and reinstall the new carpet. There are several carpet professionals in all areas of the country.
  • If the existing carpets are still not worn and simply dirty, a professional cleaning of these carpets might be the proper solution. Professional cleaners are more competent, and have better equipment than the renting of a carpet shampooer from a local supply store.

The removal of an existing carpet is normally not a large inconvenience and can be easily done. Of course there is the possibility that the carpet was glued down with the incorrect adhesive, making the removal especially difficult. If this is the case, the use of a professional carpet installer to remove the carpet is recommended.

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