REMOVING OLD CARPET
You know you need to. The carpet is either gross or it’s not your style or you just don’t want any carpet in your house due to allergies or cleanliness. In my Sanibel 103, it was all of the above. You’ve come to the right place for Removing Old Carpet Step by Step with Photos.
So, let’s just start.
Depending on the job (mine was the ENTIRE house!!), you might prepare for this one room at a time. Besides, it’s impossible to do all rooms at once if you’re living through the renovation like I was.
I started in the upstairs bedrooms, and that meant removing all furniture including mattresses…which meant sleeping on an air mattress downstairs in the living room. For six weeks. Ugh… But it was worth it. Just start!
All of these steps and photos are from my guest bedroom remodel. It was fun learning and doing and succeeding! Follow along step by step. There are ALOT of photos to illustrate everything. I hope you’ll enjoy it. [Maybe next time I’ll make a video.]
CAN YOU REUSE ANY OF THE OLD CARPET?
Think about any uses you may have for sections of the old carpet. In my case, the bedroom carpets weren’t that bad directly under the beds. I decided to rescue the best sections and use them in the garage, in my workshop area, or as a drop cloth when painting. It’s easy to move them around when/where I need them, and otherwise keep the taped rolls or a small stack of flat carpet sections in the garage out of the way.
So, measure the section(s) you want to keep. Using a sharp utility or box knife, make a cut line all the way through the carpet and pad. This isn’t as easy as it sounds unless you have a super sharp utility knife. I prefer the large box knives that have those blades that snap off when they’re dull. I had to snap to a new blade several times, but it cut fairly easily and quickly this way.
Ok. Gather your tools. Put on your gloves, knee pads, and dust mask. Consider safety goggles if you want to keep dust out of your eyes. Now, head to the nearest corner. Grab your needle nose pliers. And just pull upwards.
Pull up the best section to where your cut lines are, roll it up, tape it off, and set aside for future use elsewhere. Be glad you’re wearing your dust mask if you have allergies because mine had a lot of fibers and dust flying everywhere.
REMOVE THE TACK STRIPS
Thank you for rescuing some of the best carpet sections from the landfill. By now you’ve discovered what’s under the carpeting: Tack strips, nails, and staples — oh, my! And carpet padding.
Tack strips are the biggest pain. They are installed all along the perimeter of the room to secure the carpet in place so it doesn’t wrinkle and bunch up over time. They are a necessary evil but your worst enemy when removing old carpet.
The tack strips have a million sharp tacks sticking up so they can be tricky and dangerous. I know you’re wearing gloves, right? Be aware and be careful!
Sometimes there are more than one generation of carpeting, thus carpet tack strips. Sanibel 103 had two sets of carpeting since 1975, both with their tack strips in place. Translation: twice the work! The photo below shows both sets of tack strips. They are like vintage wooden yardsticks with millions of tacks waiting to stick you.
So, that’s what you’ll find and that’s what you’ll have to remove. You can remove the padding first if you want. I did that in some sections but not the whole room at once since it did provide some padding for my knees. ALL of this work is on your knees.
My favorite tools for removing tack strips are a good ole hammer and a large flathead screwdriver. Still wearing kneepads, gloves, dust mask, and now safety glasses in case of flying nails and tacks, lay the screwdriver on its side, slide the tip under the wooden tack strip, and hit the end of the screwdriver with your hammer to loosen the strip.
I found that the tack strip broke at every large nail that was holding it to the plywood subfloor. So the screwdriver loosened about 8-12 inches at a time before the strip broke off at a nail.
Keep loosening the tack strips all around the room, and deal with the nails later…
Properly dispose of sharp tack strips in a cardboard box that you can securely tape up before putting in the trash or dumpster. You can see the small sections of tack strips in my box below. Sometimes I had to break the strips into shorter sections with my hammer if they came up longer than would fit in the box.
REMOVING THE NAILS
Congratulations if you’ve removed all the tack strips. Now might be a good time for a break so your poor knees can rest. Yuengling was my beverage of choice. Even though this is a Pennsylvania beer and favorite of Pittsburghers, Yuengling can be found everywhere in SW Florida. Lucky me!
Break over. Back to work! Now you have a lot of nails to deal with. The nails held the tack strips in place so once the sharp tack strips are safely in their cardboard trash box, you can grab your claw hammer and start pulling out the bigger nails one by one. Lay a scrap piece of lumber behind the claw of the hammer for extra leverage on the stubborn nails.
Invariably there will be nails close to the walls in each corner. These are an extra pain to remove unless you can get to them at at a different angle. When facing nails in a very tight corner with no room for a hammer, try pliers or vise grips or whatever you can find to get the job done. Easier said than done, trust me.
YOU ARE DONE!!
Whew. Take a step back and admire your hard work. Tack strips and all big nails are done. Can you believe it? Way to go!
Don’t even think about the next step yet. Time to get your mind off of flooring and celebrate your success and hard work. There’s no place like the beach for that!
Stay tuned for the next step in my Sanibel 103 guest bedroom DIY remodeling project.