How to Remove Old Carpet from Hardwood Floors

If you live in a home with hardwood floors and they have old carpet over them, you may want to remove it. Many homeowners have come to favor the beauty of hardwood floors over carpeting. Hardwood floors will also add to the value of your home if you are planning to put it on the market to sell.

Tools and Materials:

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Gloves
  • Wrecking bar
  • Large dumpster
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Trash cans
  • Box knife or sharp cutting tool

Step 1 -- Remove All Furniture

Carpet is much easier to remove if you can take all of the furniture from the room before you begin. If this isn't possible, at least put it all on one side of the room to have one large area cleared. If the carpet appears to be dusty and dirty, you can save a bit of cleanup if you vacuum it thoroughly before you begin.

Step 2 -- Cut the Carpet

Starting against a wall, cut deep into and through the backing of the carpet using your box knife. Cut strips no more than about 3 feet wide for ease of handling. Go all the way across the room to the other wall. Continue in this manner until the carpet in the entire room or cleared area is cut into strips.

Step 3 -- Remove the Carpet

Put on your gloves. Use the wrecking bar to lift the edge of the carpet from the tack-down strips. These strips have sharp nails to hold the carpet in place and can cause injury if you're not careful. Also pull away along the long edge on the first strip you remove. It may take a bit of strength to pull the carpet away, as it is put down with a tool that stretches the carpet and adheres it to these nail strips. After you have loosened one section, start at the short end and roll it tightly. If it becomes too large to handle, use your knife to cut across the piece. Wrap duct tape around it to hold the roll in place and take outside. Continue on in this manner until all of the carpet is removed.

Step 4 -- Remove the Pad

If the carpeting has padding under it, as most carpets do, you will remove it in the same way. Many times, padding is laid underneath carpet with no tape, glue or tack-down strips. Cut it and roll it as you did the carpet. After the padding is up, sweep the area well to help control dust.

Step 5 -- Remove Tack Strips

This is many people's least favorite part of carpet removal. Tack strips are made of inexpensive wood and tend to splinter into pieces as you rip them up. Use the wrecking bar or screwdriver to lift them and then pull. Because of the sharp tacks, immediately put them into a trash can, as you don't want to step on one, even with shoes on.

Step 6 -- Disposal of Old Carpet

Different municipalities have different ways that they want you to dispose of old carpeting and padding. If you are removing it from an entire house, you may want to hire a rental dumpster to throw it in as you work, and disposal will be taken care of by the company from which you rent. Otherwise, call your local trash removal office for instructions for disposal.