How to Effectively Rip Up a Carpet

Ripping up carpeting can be a challenging DIY project.

Ripping up carpeting can be a challenging DIY project.

If you are planning a DIY project that involves replacing carpeting, you will have to figure out the best way to rip up a carpet. Carpeting is a popular floor choice, but over the years, it has been replaced by hardwood, bamboo and laminate flooring options. In order to proceed with a new flooring project, you will have to get rid of the old carpet. Unfortunately, there may be more to just removing the carpeting and throwing it into the dumpster. There are ways to remove it so it doesn’t damage the existing floor underneath.

Items you may need prior to starting your carpet removal project:

  • Gloves
  • A face mask
  • A crow bar
  • A utility knife and sharp blades
  • A putty knife
  • ShopVac or other vacuum
  • Twine or duck tape

SkilToolsTips for How to Rip Up a Carpet

It is important to keep safety measures in mind when starting this type of DIY project. Carpeting can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Anything from mold, dust mites, flea dander, dust and dirt particles can be hidden within carpet fibers. Make sure you wear a face mask or respirator before beginning to remove old pieces of carpeting.

Begin by removing the baseboard trim around the perimeter of the room. If you plan on reusing the baseboard, take care when removing to avoid breaking or damaging the pieces.  Number the backs of each piece as well as the wall so you can reinstall the molding in the correct order after the carpet has been replaced.

Wearing gloves can help protect your hands as the carpet backing can be rough. Starting at the corner of the room, pry up the carpeting with a crow bar. You can use the bar to lift the edges up. Begin to pull back firmly and slowly. Keep in mind there will be either glue, tack nails or both that are holding the carpet in place. As you pull, some of the carpet may rip or stay attached to the subflooring. Use your utility knife to cut the carpet away if needed.

Keep in mind there may be some obstacles that come into play when ripping up carpeting. Carpeting could be wedged underneath paneling or other flooring, making removal difficult. Older carpet may fall apart easily, making it hard to remove larger sections at once.

If you are working with a large room, you may want to precut carpet areas into sections to make it more manageable to remove. Cutting out a 6×2-foot square area may be sufficient enough for easy removal. Wrap with twine or duck tape to make it more manageable to carry outside. Recycle the carpet or discard appropriately with your local waste removal company.

Carpeting pieces that stick to the subfloor or are difficult to remove may need to be cut. Start by using your crow bar to pry under the glue and try to kick up the stubborn pieces. Use a sharp putty knife to scrape away pieces close to the surface of walls or other hard-to-reach places. The goal is to get the surface area as smooth as possible without bumps and nails sticking up.

An easy way to clean up leftover debris is to sweep up and remove large pieces. Use a vacuum to suck up dust, dirt and leftover carpet pieces. Make sure the flooring is as clean as possible before getting ready to lay down new carpeting or hardwood floors.

Ripping up carpeting can be time consuming but overall is not difficult.  Be prepared for any type of situation, but doing it yourself can reduce the labor costs in installation of replacement carpet or flooring.


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