Rays of sunlight shining on a group of multicolored rolled-up carpets that are in a dark room.

How To Remove a Carpet

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/28/2021

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Taking on a DIY carpet replacement project is a guaranteed way to finally be rid of that old, grungy mat.

Knowing how to pull and rip up an old carpet yourself will also save you money on removal costs.

We’ll show you the best tools for carpet removal, the best way to cut carpet, cushioning, staples, and tack strips, and the most efficient disposal techniques. Why not make the job as easy on ourselves as possible?

Let’s get started!

Warning: You never know what you’ll find during carpet replacement projects. Be sure to wear safety glasses, gloves, boots/shoes, and a respirator. 

You must remove baseboards prior to carpet replacement.

Let's Make It

Equipment

  • Pliers
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Screwdriver (if applicable)

Materials

  • Tape

How To Remove Carpet

01/9

How To Pull Up Carpet With Pliers

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To start the removal, start by pulling the carpet up at the edges of the room with a pair of pliers.

The goal is to detach the mat from the tack strips that hold it in place.

Work around the perimeter of the room until all of the old carpet is no longer attached to the tack strips.

02/9

How To Cut Carpet

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The best way to manage a clean removal is to cut it into sections five to six feet wide.

Use a utility knife to cut through the mat from one end of the room to the other into a long strip. 

Make sure the cut strip is fully detached after cutting the carpet.

03/9

How To Roll Up Carpet

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Once cut into a strip, roll it up tight.

The better the carpet is rolled up, the easier the disposal will be, and the smoother the whole replacement project will go.

04/9

How To Tape Carpet For Disposal

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After ripping up the carpet and rolling it, hold the rolls together with tape. This will prevent the rolls from coming apart during disposal.

Adhere the tape to the backside of the carpet and roll as you attach the tape.

Wrap the tape tightly around the bundle a few times and make sure it is secure.

Now repeat these steps until all the carpeting is ripped up, rolled, and taped.

How To Rip Up Carpet Cushion/Underpadding

Now that you know how to remove the carpet, it’s time to tear up the cushion.

Info: The carpet cushion is the material that separates the carpeting from the floor. It is also called the underpadding or underlay.

05/9

How To Cut Carpet Cushion/Underpadding

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Using the same method as before, cut the cushion with a utility knife into five to six-foot strips.

The cushion is actually stapled to the floor. So, after cutting the cushion, you will have to pull or rip it up before it can be rolled.

Pulling up the cushion can be done by hand.

06/9

How To Roll And Tape Carpet Cushion

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With the cushion/underlay detached from the floor, roll the strips into tight bundles. 

Once rolled, tightly wrap the tape around the cushioning for easy disposal.

Repeat these steps for the entirety of the carpet cushion removal.

07/9

How To Remove Carpet Tack Strips

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It’s now time to remove the tack strips. They are located against the wall, along the perimeter of the room.

The removal tools you’ll need to tear up the tack strips are a hammer and a crowbar.

Press the crowbar against the tack strips. Then hit the crowbar with the hammer until it’s underneath the strip.

Push the crowbar down until it pulls up the nails in the floor that hold the tack strip in place.

Work your way around the room until all the tack strips are removed.

08/9

How To Check Flooring Underneath Carpet Cushion

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Info: Unless you installed the old carpet yourself, you never know what you’ll find underneath the cushion. It could be anything from hardwood floors to vinyl to subfloor. 

If you plan on carpet replacement, where you’ll just be reinstalling a new carpet where the old one was, you can leave the existing floor.

When planning on changing the flooring material, especially if you live in an older house, we highly recommend having old materials tested for asbestos.

Material such as laminate and vinyl may contain asbestos, which is a hazardous material.

When installing flooring other than carpet, such as hardwood or tile, you’ll need to rip up any existing flooring so that you have access to the subfloor. 

Wearing your respirator, carefully remove one piece of the old flooring material and have it tested for asbestos.

Be careful not to break the material, as this could put toxic fibers into the air.

If the material tests positive for asbestos, you need to hire a hazardous material removal company.

If it tests negative, you’re clear to remove the old flooring.

09/9

How To Remove Carpet Staples

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The final task in a carpet replacement project is the removal of the staples that held the cushioning to the floor.

Remove the staples with pliers or a screwdriver.

For removal with pliers, hold the pliers horizontal to the floor and grab the staple. Then pull up the pliers, using the tip of the pliers as a lever until the staple is removed.

When using a screwdriver, put the end of the screwdriver into the gap between the staple and floor. Then pull up on the screwdriver until the cushion staple is removed.

Staple removal is a slow and somewhat tedious process. Just take your time working slowly around the whole area of the room until all the staples are removed.

Info: You can also use a flat-edged shovel or spade to remove the staples. In this method, you run the shovel along the floor and smash them out of the way. We don’t recommend this method because it doesn’t always work, can cause damage, and can easily lead to wrist injuries. You’re better off taking it one staple at a time using pliers or a screwdriver.

You now know how to cut, pull up and remove carpet, staples, and tack strips.

Just think of all the money you’ve saved in carpet removal costs by doing it yourself!