How to Remove Carpet

Read time: 5 minutes


  • New carpet can breathe life into any room, but like many home improvement projects, it can be costly.
  • If you’re handy, you can save money by tearing out your old carpeting on your own.
  • Gather a utility knife, duct tape, pliers, knee pads and a pry bar. Remove furniture and doors that swing into the room.
  • Wear gloves and a dust mask. Start ripping up the carpet from the corners into the center.
  • Roll up the carpet, secure with tape and look into local options for disposal or recycling.
  • Depending on the new flooring being installed, rip out or replace tack strips with pry bar and scraper.


Old, out-of-style carpeting has a habit of aging the aesthetics of a home, but the right update can make a world of difference. Putting new carpet in a room can give it a whole new look and feel. Instead of trampled-on fibers with ground-in dirt, your floor can have a soft plush comfortable to walk on in bare feet. Like any renovation, buying new carpet is a pricey, sometimes major investment, depending on how many rooms you want to renew.

The good news is, if you’re handy, you can save a considerable amount of money by tearing out your old carpeting and removing it, along with the old padding, on your own. Hauling out old carpeting can be heavy, so talk to your installer to see how much you will save and whether it’s worth your effort. However, if you do decide to do the job on your own, follow these tips for a good result.

Tools and Preparation

Removing carpet can be a simple job with the right preparation. Have a plan ready that covers the cutting, removal and ultimate disposal of the old carpeting and padding. Depending on the size of the job, this could mean having a trash container delivered or having a truck ready to take the old carpeting away. Before you start, make sure you have the following tools:

  • Utility knife
  • Duct tape
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Pliers
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Knee pads
  • Old towels

Remove furniture entirely from the room where you are working for faster removal. Also remove doors that swing into the room, such as bifold closet doors. Before you actually start removing the carpeting, put on your work gloves to protect your hands from the abrasive carpet backing. Ripping up carpeting also disturbs a lot of dust, so if you are sensitive to it, wear a facial mask. Vacuuming isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a great tip for keeping the job as clean as possible. Vacuuming the old carpet prior to removal prevents any excess dust and dirt from spreading while you are working.

Carpet removal might seem like an injury-free process, however, removal of tack strips, the heavy lifting and vigorous labor should be approached with caution. A dust mask and safety goggles can protect you from dust, but they can’t prevent back injuries.

The Easiest Method for Removing Old Carpet

  1. Begin the job in one corner of the room and try pulling up the corner of the carpet first with your hands. If that doesn’t work, take your utility knife and try cutting a 6-inch by 6-inch square and remove it. Go back to trying to pull up the carpet with your hands. Remember that carpeting is held down with tack strips, so you’ll have to pull extra hard where those strips are located. Pliers are helpful in this stage for grabbing and pulling carpeting away from the floor.


  1. Work your way toward the center of the room. By working from the walls in, you’ll have an easier time pulling up the old carpeting. Fold the carpet by thirds into the center of the room. This little trick allows you to cut it more easily with your utility knife for removal. Carpeting can be extremely heavy, so cutting it into smaller pieces will make for quicker and easier removal. Cut the carpet from the back as you will find it easier than the other way around. Once you have pulled up all of the carpeting, roll it up, secure the rolls with tape and remove it from the room.


  1. Remove the tack strips. These are thin strips of wood with small nails that held your carpeting to the floor. If you will install new carpeting, you simply leave them where they’re at, but if you’re putting in a hardwood floor, example, you’ll need to remove them. For this task, you’ll need the pry bar to get the tack strips off the subfloor. Make sure you replace rusted tack strips for new carpeting installation.


  1. Remove the pad. Work in the same way as you did with the carpet by starting near the walls. After cutting the pad into pieces and rolling it up, you may need to remove staples or glue that may have affixed the pad to the floor. Use pliers or a scraper to accomplish this task.


Expect the entire job to take about two hours, depending on the size of the carpet that you will remove. Removal of padding will take slightly longer than the carpet because of the subfloor cleanup.

Clean Up After Removing Carpet

Once the carpeting and padding have been removed, sweep, vacuum and mop the concrete floor. Use a shop vacuum on the subfloor to pick up leftover debris. Carpeting and padding materials are very porous – any liquids spilled on them over the course of the carpet’s life-span will have soaked into these, in addition to helping remove dust and sand that may have accumulated under the carpet over time.

Do not try to remove carpeting in large 9 or 12 foot wide rolls. It’s important to know your limits: homeowners tend to try and remove the entire carpet in one piece, which can cause injuries. Determine the width of carpeting that you can easily carry and use a utility knife to cut the old carpeting into smaller strips – three to four-foot widths are normal. Roll up the cut carpeting as you go. Use masking or duct tape to keep the carpet from unrolling. Carpeting is heavy and this could lead to severe back problems.

Check with your municipality on how to dispose of the old carpet. You may even be able to recycle it at a local recycling center.

If you’re thinking about updating your home’s floors as a DIY project, visit your local Doug Ashy – our experts will help match you with all of the quality flooring materials you need for the perfect room makeover.

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