So you’re finally ready to remove the carpeting in that room. Maybe because it’s hopelessly stained, or you just moved into a place and the shag relic in the living room is, um, a bit dated. Or perhaps you just want to expose some beautiful, vintage hardwood floors for a more classic, modern look.
Whatever the motivation, there are three great reasons to remove the old carpeting yourself. One, of course, is you’ll save money. (Installers charge extra to tackle this nettlesome job.) The second is the satisfaction of doing the work yourself, like a pro. The third reason: It’s a perfect opportunity to give your OLFA® heavy-duty 18mm Snap Blade Knife —complete with wrap around anti-slip rubber grip—a workout. Plus, it’s one of our favorite double-taskers, with the addition of the multi-purpose metal pick (which comes in handy for popping open paint cans).
As for the blade, take it from us: Few things dull a blade faster than cutting through carpeting, and a dull knife is an invitation to injury. For this job, we recommend the OLFA® snap-off Black Blade, a carbon-tool steel blade with a 25% sharper edge. With a sharp blade just a snap away, there’s no fumbling around for a screwdriver or knife disassembly required. And the rubber grip ensures comfort and control while minimizing wrist fatigue.
WHAT YOU NEED
- safety glasses
- dust mask
- heavy-duty work gloves
- duct tape
- wide-blade putty knife
- small prybar
- needle-nose pliers
- long-handled floor scraper (if carpet pad is glued to the floor)
- broom and dustpan/wet-dry shop vac
HOW TO REMOVE CARPET IN 10 EASY STEPS
- Wearing safety glasses, a dust mask and heavy-duty work gloves, pull back a corner of the carpeting with pliers. If that doesn’t work, use your heavy-duty OLFA utility knife to cut out a small square of carpet (say, about 6″ x 6″ or so).
- Pull up the carpeting, which is attached to small, nail-studded pieces of wood called tack strips. (Caution: They line the perimeter of the room, and those little devils are sharp.)
- After you’ve pulled up about 3′ of carpeting, fold it over toward the middle of the room and use your OLFA knife to cut along the fold (cutting the backside of the carpeting is easier).
- Roll up the resulting strip of carpeting like a sleeping bag and wrap it with duct tape to keep it from unrolling; these easy-to-carry chunks of carpet will save you a trip to the chiropractor. Then put the roll outside the room and cut off another 3′ strip. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all carpeting is removed.
- If you plan to recarpet the room and the tack strips aren’t damaged, leave them alone. If you’re not recarpeting, remove the strips. To do so, find one of the nails used to secure the tack strip to the floor (they’re typically about 6″ apart), then slide the flat end of a prybar near the nail.
TIP: To protect hardwood flooring, first slide a wide-blade putty knife under the tack strip, then slip the flat end of the prybar under the tack strip but atop the putty-knife blade; this will prevent the prybar from marring the hardwood.
- Carefully hit the other end of the prybar with a hammer to slowly dislodge the strip. (The strips break easily.) Repeat this process at every nailing point until the strip comes loose.
- To remove the carpet padding, which is usually installed in sections and secured by staples around the edges of each section, first pull up a section of padding. Then roll it up and duct-tape it, like you did with the carpet sections. Repeat until all padding is removed.
- Then use needle-nose pliers to remove the staples. To avoid denting a hardwood floor, again place a putty knife below the staples as you remove them. If you’re unlucky enough to encounter glued-down padding, a long-handled floor scraper makes removing glue easier.
- Now check around the room to be sure you removed all the tack-strip nails and staples. Use the clawed end of a hammer to remove any nail stragglers.
- Sweep or vacuum up any dust or debris. Then pat yourself on the back and think about how to spend the money you saved by doing the job yourself.
TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
- A carpetless floor provides a golden opportunity to fix squeaky floorboards by screwing down or nailing (use ring-shank nails) the subflooring more securely.
- If you’re recarpeting the floor, it’s generally wise to replace the old carpet pad; most carpet manufacturers require a specific pad in order to keep warranties valid.
- Wear a dust or respirator mask; you’ll be amazed at how much dust and dirt lies below the carpeting.
- Mineral spirits will soften stubborn glue deposits that remain after pad removal.