How to Remove Carpet Tack Board from the Floor

A basement with carpet.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-50
What You'll Need
Small pry bar
Hooked hammer
Putty knife

You can easily remove carpet tack board from your floors and prevent damaging the natural floor by taking your time and working in small sections as you go. This material is used to keep the carpeting and padding from moving while it is being walked on, day in and day out. A good example is a welcome mat at the front door. It's constantly moving around your front step, which is caused by friction from traffic passing over it, going in and out of your home. Without these tack strips, your living room carpet would move in the direction of the movement across the floor. Some of these are nailed into your floor, while others are glued or stapled.

See How the Tack Strips are Secured

Once you have pulled your old carpet up, you will see the padding laying on top of a series of tack board strips. You want to look at this material closely to see how they are attached to the floor before trying to pull them up. This will prevent damage to the natural floor as you remove them. Stapled tack strips will leave behind tiny holes in the natural floor surface, as screws and nails will leave large scars on the floor once they are removed. If you are planning to keep the natural flooring, the way the tack stripes are attached can impact your project's end result.

Remove Nails and Screws

Some tack boards will be secured with nails or screws and can seriously damage the original floor if not removed correctly. It was very common in the 1970s to carpet over nice hardwood floors with plush carpets and shags, but over time these cultural popularities changed hands for the traditional look and feel of hardwood. In some cases, the original floor will be simple sheets of wood instead of a nice floor and you will want to install wood floors over this, or simply replace the carpet. In either case, you will want to ensure that all nails, staples, screws, and glue are removed from the floor surface before moving forward.

When removing the tack board that is held by screws or nails, you will want to do all you can to prevent scaring the natural floor surfaces by moving along slowly. Take the time to remove each strip by hand to reduce damages as you go. Nail holes are going to leave pits in the floor surface, which can be filled and sanded after all tack strips are removed. Screws will need to be removed individually to avoid splitting or cracking the floor as you go.

Deal with Stapled Tack Strips

If the tack board is held into place with staples, the job will be less intensive than screws or nails. Generally, you can simply grab one end of the strip with pliers and pull, which will peel most of the strip up. Use a putty knife in either case to remove any glue or other bonding residue that remains before installing the new floor.