Removing Carpet: How to

House renovations have been in full swing over the past week. No sooner than the ink had dried on the contract, we started with step one: removing the carpet. I felt like Rocky in the corner of the ring: bouncing back and forth, slapping my gloves together, stretching my arms and neck one last time, before showing my opponent who's the boss. I had been looking forward to this for a month. I love, love, love to tear out carpet. There is just something so gratifying about it. I remember when we were first married that I had a project for us to do together. I think it was something to do with landscaping and I told my little honey dearest that we should spend our Saturday working in the yard; making it beautiful. He looked at me like I had three heads. He informed me that I would not be pleased with the result if he were involved in the process and that we should just hire it done. I looked at him like he had three heads. Why? Why hire someone else to do something that we could do ourselves. After one time of getting him to help me paint a bedroom, I realized he was right. He simply could not do handy. He is good at many things, handiwork is just not one of them. I've learned to accept this. In fact, there was a tv show (is it still on?) called The Red Green Show. Have you heard of it? In the show, the man, Red Green, shows you how to be your own handyman. But, this was a parody of sorts, so instead of things actually being fixed, they were jimmy rigged. Think lots of duct tape. He always ended the show with the phrase, "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." "Good thing I find you handsome because I do NOT find you handy, " was something I've said to the husband on occasion. But, I was more than happy to have his help removing the carpet. What could go wrong?

Master before

Master before

Removing the Old Carpet: Should it Stay or Should it Go?

We plan to remove all the flooring in the house and lay new hardwood, but figuring out where to put the hardwood or tile has been almost as tough as picking out the flooring itself. Upon purchase, the home had carpet in the bedrooms, the family room, living room, and dining room. We knew for sure that we wanted the carpet out of the living room, family room, and the dining room, but we weren't so positive in the bedrooms. We debated keeping the carpet in the kids' rooms and taking it out of the master. We also considered keeping the carpet in all of the bedrooms. I kept hearing a wise piece of advice from an uncle that said, "you never want to keep someone else's carpet." I realize that this is a bit of vanity on his behalf, but I don't disagree. We have both removed carpet before; we know what lies beneath the carpet and the padding; this isn't our first rodeo. I knew I really didn't want to keep the carpet in the kids' rooms because though it was in good shape and looked new, our daughter really has a tough time with allergies. Even a rug in her room can send her into a coughing fit. The husband suggested we remove the carpet in the kids' rooms and leave it in ours I said, "no way!" I told him what the wise ole uncle had once told me and suggested we take it out of our room first and then decide about the kids. One corner ripped up and I'd already converted him to my side. Carpet is gross!!!! This certainly wasn't a crime scene as far as nasty carpet; it really was in good shape. There were no major stains (except for some damage to the subfloor in the living room), just lots and lots of dust. And in my forensic mind, that dust equaled dead skin cells. Just like that decision made. The uncle's point proven. Removing the carpet was the only way to go.

Removing the Old Carpet: Supplies Needed

Stanley Wonderbar Prybar

Work Gloves 

Utility Knife

Safety Goggles and Mask

Removing the Old Carpet: How to

If you're wanting to salvage the old carpet and sell it to someone who might reuse it (there are people that do this), this blog post isn't going to help you. We wanted the carpet out pronto and our main priority was being able to carry it out by ourselves. In order to get it out as quickly and as painlessly as possible, we used our utility knife to make cuts whenever and wherever we pleased. In each room, we removed carpet, we made our first cuts at the floor vent. Obviously, there is already a hole in the carpet for the air flow so it made an easy place to grab hold of the carpet. Making a small cut in two corners granted us a placed to grab hold and yank.

Removing the Old Carpet: the Padding

This part is easy peasy as you will find that carpet is only attached by rows of staples and with a teeny bit of muscle, the carpet will release in a breeze. On the perimeter of the room, against the walls, the carpet will be attached with carpet tacks. Now that all of the carpet is up, the next part gets a little dirtier. It is time to remove the carpet padding. Typically, the carpet padding is a real mess. Usually, it is made of fused together bits and pieces of foam (think particle board) and as you pull it from the tacks and staples it can come apart in tiny pieces. Which is just annoying. It doesn't take much strength to remove the padding, just plenty of patience. We lucked out with one room, the family room, perhaps a higher quality padding, but it was more of a mattress topper material and didn't come off in a thousand dusty shards.

carpet padding

carpet padding

Removing the Old Carpet: The Staples

Wait, you're not done yet. If you can, think of a good excuse to get yourself out of the next step. This would be a good time to pull a Rusty from Christmas Vacation and say, "Oh, woo. Look at the time. I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car..." This part is the pits. Actually, this isn't so bad. The first time I ever tried removing old carpet I removed every last staple with a pair of pliers and it was about as painful as plucking every last hair from your body with a pair of tweezers. Slow, painful death. If you took my advice and purchased yourself a prybar, you're in luck. Use the longer end of the prybar and slide it back and forth across the subfloor wherever you see a row of staples. With just the right amount of force, the staples will pop right out as the prybar runs over them. To remove the tack strips, use a hammer to wedge the end of the prybar under the wooden strip and pull up every foot or so until it is completely free of the subfloor. Use caution, those tacks will gouge any part of your body they come into contact with.


Here, is where you can get the kids involved. Hand them a broom and a dustpan and have them sweep up the loosened staples and fragments of leftover padding. My six and four year old loved this part and actually volunteered to do it without asking. One swept, the other held and dumped the pan.

Have you removed carpet before? Do you find it therapeutic like I do?