How to Rip Up Carpet: The Easy Way

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Learn how to rip up carpet. Removing old carpet is a necessary step for replacing your flooring.

You might also be interested in learning about removing carpet from stairs.

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I recently started what was supposed to be a very simple bedroom makeover. However, once I had the room cleared of furniture for painting, my curiosity got the best of me.

“Let’s just check and see what is under the carpet,” I told my husband. I knew that it wouldn’t be hardwood, but I was hoping that it was at least decent quality plywood subflooring.

I have allergies and I know that the old carpet only makes things worse. Carpet holds so much dust and I was hoping that by removing it, I would feel better.

So what was supposed to be a very simple paint job for the walls turned into removing the carpet and painting the subfloor. (Spoiler alert: it turned out so much better than I was expecting.)

Eventually, we want to put down real flooring, but I’m not in any hurry now. I can’t wait to share the finished painted floor. It’s so cute!!

Check out how we painted the floors with a checkerboard pattern!

How to Rip Up Carpet

Supplies Needed to Take Up Carpet

It’s also helpful to have a system in place for removing demo debris. We like to use a large trashcan lined with construction grade trash bags. These bags are thick and harder to rip, but they can also hold heavier items.

Unless your room is tiny, the carpet will not fit in the trash can, so have a place in mind to store the carpet until you can dispose of it.

I’ve included protection gear in the list because although removing carpet seems pretty tame, it can be a rough job. Carpet is filled with dust which can aggravate allergies. It’s also held in place with tack strips, which are little pieces of wood that are filled with tiny nails. Take precautions with this job to avoid illness and injury.

Prep Work

  1. Remove all furniture from the room.
  2. Thoroughly vacuum the carpet. (You might be tempted to skip this step, but you will regret it. We skipped a tiny corner of the room and it was so dusty.)
  3. Remove any floor vents. Take notes of the size of the vent hole if you want to replace them.
  4. If possible, tarp off areas that you want to stay dust-free.
  5. Prepare your demo disposal area. As noted above, we always set up a trash can nearby to handle small trash.

You might also want to consider removing the baseboards at this point. Certain types of flooring will require you to replace the baseboards anyway. We went back and forth on this decision, but in the end, we left our baseboards for now.

Here’s a post on removing trim, which is similar to baseboards.

Removing The Carpet

If your room is large, you might want to start by using a utility knife to cut the carpet to make the carpet rolls smaller.

Your walls will get scratched up during this process, so keep that in mind.

lady removing carpet
  1. Remove any threshold pieces. Place a pry bar under the metal and push down. This will make the metal threshold piece pop up. You may have to do this in several places to remove the whole thing. (If you want to reuse it, make sure that you pry it up every few inches to prevent it from bending.)
  2. Start in a corner and use the pry bar to pull up the corner of the carpet. If you’re having a hard time, try to get the pry bar under the baseboard to get to the carpet. man removing carpet starting in corner of room
  3. Pull up the carpet at the corner and work your way down the wall. It helps to have 2 people.
  4. Be careful of tack strips as you go.
  5. You can either roll as you go or pull it up and then roll the carpet.
  6. Remove the rolls of carpet from the room and continue until the room is clear.

How to Remove Carpet Padding

After ripping out the carpet, you still have to deal with the padding. Luckily, it’s much easier to remove.

removing carpet padding
  1. Find a corner and pull.
  2. Continue pulling as you go, leaving the staples in the floor.
  3. Roll up the carpet padding and discard it.

How to Remove Carpet Tack Strips

using pry bar to remove carpet tack strips
  1. Use a pry bar to get under the edge of the tack strip.
  2. Push the pry bar down to pop the tack strip up.
  3. It’s okay if it breaks as you go. (In some cases, it’s actually easier to remove when it breaks.)
  4. Be sure to discard the pieces in the trash as you work.
  5. If your tack strips are located slightly under the baseboards, you may need to use a screwdriver or pliers to help you remove it.
  6. The nails holding the tack strips in place usually come out as you go, but if they don’t the nail can be removed with pliers.

How to Remove Staples from the Subfloor

Unlike stairs, floors seem to have way fewer staples. However, I promise that you will still find about 20 staples that you’ve missed when you clean up.

A staple remover tool will make the job so much easier! Be sure to wear gloves as you work, because it’s much harder on your hands than you would think.

If you can find a logical direction to work in, you have a better chance of not missing them.

We removed all of the staples because we knew that we wanted to paint the floor. However, even if you’re replacing your carpet with something else, it’s still a good idea to remove the staples so that you can start with a level surface.

removing staples from subfloor after ripping out carpet
  1. Start in a corner and use a staple remover to pop the staples up. Twisting the staple remover tends to result in a clean removal of the staple.
  2. For staples that are installed deep in the wood, I like this staple remover better.
  3. If the staple breaks while you are removing it, use pliers to pull the rest of it out.
  4. Some staples are hard to see. Look for tiny bits of the carpet padding that is embedded in the floor.
room with bare plywood floors after removing carpet

Clean Up and Disposal of Old Carpet

  1. Sweep up as much of the large debris as possible.
  2. Use a Shop-Vac to remove any dust.
  3. Carpet can be taken to your local sanitation department. In our town, we choose the construction debris area to dispose of this kind of garbage. It costs a little more than standard garbage, but it’s much easier to navigate.
  4. You might also be able to call your trash service to request a large trash pick up.
trash can for demo debris when removing carpet from room

Carpet Removal FAQs

Can I remove carpet myself?

Yes, you can remove carpet yourself. It helps if you have a 2nd person to assist because carpet can be heavy to move.

What tools do I need to remove carpet?

At a minimum, you need a pry bar, a utility knife with sharp blades, and something to remove staples.

tools for removing carpet

How long does it take to remove carpet?

Removing the carpet doesn’t take long. With 2 people working, our room probably took about 30 minutes to remove all of the carpet and padding. It took another 30 minutes to remove the tack strips and another 30 minutes to remove the staples.

Is it difficult to remove carpet?

No, it’s not difficult to remove carpet. The hardest part is transporting the carpet out of the room. It’s much easier if you cut the carpet into smaller pieces to make removal easier.

How do I remove carpet adhesive from concrete?

This room has a wooden subfloor, but we had to remove carpet adhesive in our basement. We used this tool to remove as much as we could. It’s hard work, but it does work. There are also adhesive remover chemicals that can work. Follow the directions on the bottle and take precautions as necessary.

Learn how we painted the plywood floors!

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  1. If I have old concrete could I just add a layer of fresh concrete to it like in the counter top example or the loft space you redid?

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