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Removing Carpet

Updated on March 31, 2010

Carpet Pad and Strip

This carpet pad and tacking strip is over an old floor.
This carpet pad and tacking strip is over an old floor.

Use Your Head

I have removed many miles of carpet in my life. I was a flooring installer for a fifteen years and and honed this labor to a minimum. There are not many situations I haven't tackled involving a flooring predicament.

This is a guide to remove a traditional, power stretcher installed carpet over padding in a residential scenario. Commercial glue down and mobile home installed carpets are a different animal.

One thing I always noticed when someone thought they were going to save themselves a few bucks on the installation was to take up the old carpet themselves. I didn't have a problem with that but I always had a good laugh at their expense.

They had worked so hard rolling up that huge 200 lb. living room carpet just tight enough to fit through the door frame, then five other people join the struggle to get it outside, damaging paint and sanding the door jambs smooth with the carpet backing. Finally, the carpet and pad is brought to the edge of the road only to find out a few days later the garbage truck will not pick it up. Then the rain came and soaked the whole stinking pile. After that huge disappointing and aggravating ordeal, they struggled to load it on a pick-up truck they had to borrow from Granddaddy to haul it to the dump. There they find a fee awaiting.

In my neck of the woods at the time I was doing this for a living. A flooring installer charged $1.00 per square yard to remove carpet and padding. If you do the math, and I'm basing this on 100 square yards which is average occupied residential install. This guy saved $100.00 for the removal and $15.00 for the disposal fee. Total $115.00 saved. Not only did they save themselves $115 they learned exactly why the charge was so high, as they said to themselves when looking over the bid, "Sure is a high price for pulling up carpet."

If you want to really save yourself the money here's how you do it without five extra people and Pop's old truck.

Installed carpet is as wide and long as the room it is in. You should make the carpet smaller and lighter so you can handle it easily.

Make sure you have an agreement with the contractor to dispose of the carpet for you, remember it should only be a fee to cover the dump and gas to get there. You will pay it anyway, let the guy working do it.

Carpet Removal:

Clear the room of all furniture. Have a good quality utility knife with a new sharp blade. You may need pliers, some installs require stapling. Usually on stairs and upholstered areas but you never know what's under that old stinky carpet.

All doorways to adjoining rooms should be cut to the inside of the room being removed. Cut it straight with the wall from jamb to jamb so as not to leave a tab sticking out, these scratch walls and trimming. This also will give you a starting point for pulling the edges. Any alcoves, closets, or offset areas should be cut in the same manner.

When you have these areas cut you should have a rectangle piece of carpet laying on the floor.

Find the starting point and pull up on the carpet, it should pull loose without much resistance. Continue this around the perimeter. You should have a loose rectangle piece of carpet.

The key to cutting carpet easily is to cut the backing. Fold the carpet over about 3 feet along the length, try to fold as evenly as possible. On the edge of the folded backing begin cutting from one end to the other which should leave you with a 3' x length of carpet to easily roll up and take out of the home, damage free, to stack out of the rain until your contractors get there.

Continue folding and cutting until the big piece is reduced to several small pieces, then get any alcove, and closet pieces.

Pad removal:

Padding is different than carpet. It comes mostly in 6' width and is light weight. Generally it is fastened by staples or glue.

1. Concrete Slab

Removing the pad is dependent on your sub floor. If you have a concrete slab you will need a wallpaper scraper with a sharp blade. Some installers use a tape only method which leaves the pad loose on the slab which means you got lucky. Others use the glued edges and seams. This means you will have to find a starting point and scrape it loose. This laborious no matter how you approach it.

2. Wooden Sub Floor

If your floor is wooden then your pad is probably stapled. Pull the padding loose along seams and edges and roll up the pad. You will be left with staples and knots of padding. All you need for this is a flat or straight hoe. Scraping with this will remove the staples from the floor. If you don't have a straight hoe, a tennis shoe can remove the padding knots by scraping the foot over the area leaving the staples. Usually the staples aren't a problem for the new install, but you can tap them flush with a hammer if they are problematic.

You should be left with a room ready for new carpet. The tacking strips around the perimeter are reusable and should not be removed unless rotted or the pins have rusted out. Leave that to the contractor he has the strips in his truck. A good carpet installer will make sure the strips are securely fastened and in good shape. The strips are very crucial to hold the stretch on the new carpet.


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    • profile image

      End of Tenancy Cleaning London 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the great tips. They are really useful for me.


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