Carpet backing is the back of the carpet that contributes to helping the carpet hold its shape and strength. Carpets are typically placed over a foam base, which is often stapled or glued to the underlying floor. At the perimeter of the room, tack strips hold the carpet in a stretched position. Unfortunately, some carpets, carpet backs or foam underlayments are glued directly to the floor or they experience a chemical reaction over time that causes the materials to become tightly stuck to the hardwood floor. Removing this glue or stuck backing can be quite labor intensive.
Things You'll Need
- Utility knife
- Wide putty knife
- Flat pry bar
- Needle-nose pliers
- Nail extractor or claw
- Wide floor scraper
- Heat gun
- 5-gallon bucket
- Brass wool
- Mineral spirits
Cut and remove strips of carpeting. Prevent damage to your underlying hardwood floors by lifting the carpet at an angle and cutting it in mid-air.
Remove all the carpet backing that will come easily off the floor. Use a wide putty knife and a larger floor scraper to pull up as much material as you can.
Slide your wide putty knife under the bottom of the tack strips, and use a pry bar against the putty knife to pry them up. Your putty knife acts as a block so that the pry bar will not dent your hardwood floor.
Pull all nails or staples using needle-nose pliers and a nail extractor or claw.
Starting at the point furthest from the door, heat the stuck backing or glue, using a heat gun. When the glue begins to liquefy, use your floor scraper or wide putty knife to scrape up the mess.
Deposit these backing pieces and glue in a bucket for later disposal.
Clean the glue residue off your floor using mineral spirits and rags. Sometimes it is necessary to scrub spots. Use brass wool and mineral spirits together in these areas.
Tips & Warnings
- If the glue liquefies fast and makes a pool when you are using the heat gun, roll up old towels to create a glue barrier that you can move around as you clean other areas.
- Knee pads are often necessary because this can be a slow process.
- Keep a small broom and dustpan on hand so that it is easy to clean up small areas without getting up.
- Always wear protective glasses and gloves when using chemicals, and keep small children and pets away from the work area.
- When using a heat gun or mineral spirits, open a window and position a fan to blow air across and out of the window.
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