DIY Tearing Out Old Carpeting

Tearing out your old carpeting before the installers arrive with your new flooring is a great way to save a few bucks. We did this very task ourselves, just last year. We decided that the carpeting in our living room, entry, and hallway needed to be replaced. We chose to go with new carpeting in the living room, and a wood inlay in the hallway, entry, and into the front bathroom, which had at the time a cheap vinyl covering.

As we added up the costs for the new flooring and installation, we realized that the total was a bit higher than we had originally budgeted for. The installer told us that we could save by tearing out and removing the old flooring ourselves, before they arrived to install the new.

Tearing out the old turned out to be a bit more difficult in some ways than we had expected, but not so bad that we will not do the same task again when we get around to replacing the flooring in our bedroom and kitchen later this year.

Required Tools and Supplies:

Heavy pair of work gloves

Utility knife


Flat head screwdriver


Begin by removing all of the existing furniture and accessories from the room you are working in. We chose to leave several shelving units in place, though we did remove some of the more breakable pieces displayed on the shelves. This turned out to be more of a prudent step to take for the installers arriving with the roll of new carpeting than for us removing the old, as most of it ended up going out in much smaller pieces, but clearing the room all at once and not in several stages is just more economical with your time.

Before you begin the actual tearing up of the old carpeting, consider some of the situations you might run into. Most carpeting will have been installed with an edging strip that runs the perimeter of the room, held fast to that with staples. The strip will need to come out once the carpeting is removed, or more aptly, as you remove the old. Remember that preserving the structure of this strip is not necessary, as the installers will replace it with a new strip, never reusing the old.

Staples may also exist in other parts of the floor, as well as through the padding, which must also be removed. Staples turned out to be our biggest issue, as whoever installed the original carpeting, which we were tearing out, had obviously enjoyed using their staple gun. We had staples in some obvious places, such as in the strip holding the carpet in place, but also in large quantities such as the middle of the floor that made no sense.

To begin the actual process of removing the old carpeting, choose a corner, and with the utility knife, make a cut as close to the edge as you can, allowing you to get a grip on the carpeting. Pull up the old carpeting. As you do, remove the staples and padding as you work. Staples will sometimes pull out easily, other times you will find that prying them up with the flat head screwdriver, then pulling out the remaining way with the pliers will be required. We even ran into staples that broke due to being rusted. When this occurred, we pulled out those we could with the pliers, and pounded over those that we could not.

To help in removing the old carpeting from the room, cut into manageable sized strips as needed for removal. If your padding is deteriorated, scrape it off the sub floor as needed. Sweep entire area clean. If you turn up any problem spots, such as water damage, be sure to point these out to the installers before they put down the new flooring. When the installers arrive, your floor will be ready for them to install your brand new flooring and you will have saved money well spent on other projects!

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