How to Peel Back Carpet

Over time, your carpet may become loose and wrinkled.
Over time, your carpet may become loose and wrinkled. (Image: DTP/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When you're restretching, repairing or removing carpet, you will need to peel the carpet away from the moldings and floor. Carpeting is secured with long wooden tack strips along all edges and doorways and is typically laid on top of a foam or rubber pad. You may have plywood, chipboard or even old hardwood floors underneath your carpet, but in terms of removal, all are treated the same way. Tackle this do-it-yourself project to improve the look of your carpet or as a first step in an all-new floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Goggles
  • Respirator mask
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Pry bar

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Put on appropriate safety gear, including gloves, goggles and a mask or respirator. Old carpets are quite dirty and tack strips can be very sharp.

Grasp one corner of the carpet with pliers, working carefully to avoid damaging the fibers. Pull the corner of the carpet away from the wall and molding or trim, revealing the tack strips. Continue to peel back the carpet until you have removed as much as desired.

Remove staples from the carpet pad, prying them out with a screwdriver and pliers. Lift the carpet pad away from the floor.

Remove tack strips by prying them free from the floor with a pry bar. Work carefully to avoid injury.

Tips & Warnings

  • This method will work for small restretching or repair jobs, but it can also be used to remove carpet when you wish to save it for reuse. If you are removing carpet permanently and do not plan to reuse it, cut it into 3-foot sections as you work for easy disposal.
  • Knee pads or a foam pad will make pulling back carpet easier on your knees.
  • Dispose of old tack strips in a cardboard box or other sturdy container to reduce the risk of injury.


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