Ripping Up Carpet? Use these Helpful Carpet Removal Tips

wood floor after ripping up carpet

Ripping up carpet can be a thrilling experience (good bye nasty old carpet!), but it is also a cumbersome job. These tips for removing carpet make the project easier and get you one step closer to new flooring. (Cue the celebration!)

Bring in the new flooring.

It may be surprising to learn that the first step of ripping up carpet is to think ahead. If the carpet is being replaced by a laminate, wood, or vinyl floor, the first step of carpet removal is to bring the new flooring into the room or adjoining space.

Hard flooring needs to be acclimated in the space (or nearby space) before installation. This simple step ensures that the flooring adapts to the conditions of the home and doesn’t buckle or warp after installation. Typically, manufacturers recommend that floors are brought into the space at least three days before installation. (Check flooring manufacturer instructions for an exact recommendation and use these tips for smooth DIY floor install.)

If the plan is to install the flooring right after carpet removal and subfloor prep, DIYers should bring the flooring into an adjoining space three days before ripping up carpet. If the flooring is being delivered for a professional flooring install, DIYers should plan accordingly and contact their local flooring store with a firm project schedule.

Gather all supplies.

Ripping up carpet and the carpet pad is a stinky (especially stained carpet) and dusty job. Before tackling this dirty job, do-it-yourselfers should start their carpet removal project by getting a utility knife, dust mask, pliers, pry bar, and safety glasses together. Knee pads are also helpful because there is quite a bit of kneeling during the project. DIYers should never forget gloves; these important tools are incredibly important during this hands-on (and sometimes dirty) project.

Cut in strips.

DIYers should start ripping up carpet by pulling up carpet with the pliers. From there, DIYers can use their hands to pull up the carpet and cut it into smaller strips. This part of the project can be dangerous, and DIYers should be careful not to cut their hand. It is typically easier to cut through carpet backing.

Carpet pad removal is usually the messiest part of the job, but the pad can usually be cut into strips just like the carpeting. Some carpet pads are glued down (especially when installed over a concrete slab) and require scrapping to remove. (Be careful not to damage the subfloor when removing the carpet pad.) Really old carpet pads are sometimes so brittle that they easily pull apart.

If the carpet is installed over a wood subflooring, DIYers should pull up and remove all staples (there may be quite a few) with a plier or floor scrapper. Unless damaged, thresholds can be left intact (if the new flooring is carpet). Once the project is completed, the wood subfloor or concrete should be as smooth as possible.

Once the carpet is up, inspect the subfloor and tack strips.

When all the strips are removed, it’s time to dispose of the carpet. Some local flooring stores may dispose of the carpet if the new flooring is purchased at their store. (Local flooring stores are also full of experts that can help choose a new floor that is functional and looks great.)

The next step of removing carpet is to prepare for the new floor. Any damaged subfloor should be replaced, especially if rotten or missing. If new carpet is being installed, DIYers should inspect the tack strips to see if they are in good shape. Tack strips should be removed if they are rusty or damaged, or if hard flooring is being installed. While floor prep may seem tedious, it’s an important part of ensuring that the next step, installing the new floor, is smooth and successful.

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