How to Remove Carpet

Cut old carpeting into strips to making removal easier.
Cut old carpeting into strips to making removal easier. (Image: Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Save money on the installation of new hardwood flooring or a new room of carpeting by removing the old carpeting yourself. Removing old wall-to-wall carpeting requires no specialized skill and few tools, but a plan makes the work faster and cleanup a snap. Even though the carpet is destined for the trash heap, give it a good vacuum first then mist with water to keep the dust to a minimum.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Utility knife blades
  • Masking tape
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer

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Grab the carpeting in the corner of the room and pull it from the tack strip.

Cut a strip of carpet about 3 feet out from the corner with a utility knife. Cut the strip wall-to-wall, or whatever is manageable for you.

Roll the cut strip of carpet, pulling it from the tack strip when necessary.

Secure the carpet roll with masking tape.

Continue cutting and rolling 3-foot strips of carpet until all carpeting is removed.

Cut and roll strips of the carpet padding as you did with the carpet until all carpet padding is removed.

Remove the tack strip with a pry bar and hammer. Insert the pry bar under the tack strip near a nail, use the hammer to hit the pry bar in place then lift the nail out of the floor with the pry bar.

Tips & Warnings

  • Utility knife blade become dull quickly when cutting carpet. Replace the blade when cutting becomes difficult.
  • Carpet-cutting utility knives, available at your home improvement stores, may make the job easier.
  • If you are replacing your carpeting with hard flooring, you need to remove the tack strip. If you are replacing your carpeting with new carpet, you do not need to remove the old tack strip.
  • Be careful when working around the tack strip. It is very sharp.
  • If you want to preserve hardwood flooring under your carpet, be careful when cutting the carpet and pad.
  • Carpet is sometimes glued down. If this is the case, you will need to soften the adhesive with a product such as mineral spirits.


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