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In the remodeling process, the demolition and removal of what you hate is often a lot easier (and I’ll admit, more fun) than the careful installation of what you love. Like ripping up our ugly brown carpet.
Just like installation though, there is always a right way and a wrong way to do it. Ensuring that the removal process doesn’t cause more damage is always important, and doing it right the first time also makes it less time-consuming. I am happy to report that removing our carpet was actually fun, and I have created this step-by-step guide in case you ever have to do it yourself (or if I get conked on the head and can’t remember):
You will need:  carpet (or angled utility) knife, tape, trash bags, crowbar, pliers, mask, broom and dust pan
1. Pull at the edges of the carpet to separate the backing from the carpet tack strip. Do this around the perimeter of the room.
2. Seams are most often found at doorways. Use an angled utility knife to slice through the carpet at these points and again separate the carpet from the carpet tack strip. Utility knives are great for many, many projects, but angled ones make it a bit easier to hack at the carpet without involving your vulnerable fingers.


3. If you’re not planning to recycle the carpet as a large piece, portability is your #1 priority for getting rid of it, so use your utility knife to create two- to three-foot strips of carpet and roll them up. Tape them at both ends. You should now have burrito-like carpet rolls that can be easily disposed of.


4. As I mentioned before, the carpet padding is where we found most of the dust and dirt issues, so you may want to wear a mask for removal. Carpet padding is held down by staples, so detach these as best you can without yanking at it (which kicks up the dirt into the air). If your carpet is as old as mine, you should have no issues with getting it separated. Fold the edges of the padding into itself, to create a smaller and smaller piece that can be stuffed into trash bags.


5. Once you have the carpet and padding removed from the room, you must next tackle the carpet tack strips and staples. A crowbar is best for both, but if you have a staple that is really troubling you (such as one prong that just won’t come out of the floor), you will also want to have a set of pliers.


how to remove carpet tack strips
6. To remove the carpet tack strips, it is best to start at the first nail on the end of the strip. Trying to start in the middle will cause splintering of the wood and the nails won’t come out. Simply jam (yes, jam) the edge of the crowbar under the first nail you see on the end, and use the crowbar like a lever to pop the nail out of place.


ripping out carpet
Continue down the length of the strip, popping the nails out whenever you find one. Be careful when picking these up to place into the trash; the nails face in both directions of the wood, so try to grip only the ends of the strip. I found this to be incredibly stress-relieving. Even Colby seemed in good spirits!


7. Staples are a pain to remove, and at first, I used the same technique as I had with the tack strips to try to remove them (prying them up one by one). Eventually, I got the hang of simply attacking them by rapidly sliding the crowbar across the floor in a jabbing motion, which would catch the edge of the staple and rip it out of the floor. I actually recorded this on my camera to show you what I mean (warning:  it’s not very interesting). Click here for the video. I was very proud of myself for my newfound “technique” and bragged about it to Scott, who looked at me like “And?  I already knew that was how to do it.”  Oh well. So much for my “genius” handywoman ideas.
8. Staples like to hide, so you may need to run the crowbar over the floor to blindly catch a few that you may have otherwise missed. I found that this happened the most often when the staple still had a piece of carpet padding stuck to it, and I skipped over it thinking that it was just the padding alone. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that I still haven’t caught them all, and we’ll probably find more when we begin laying the new flooring down.


how to remove carpet staples


9. Lastly, thoroughly sweep the room to get as much dust and dirt up as possible. This is also the easiest way to collect all of those pesky staples and small leftover pieces of carpet padding. Now your floor is ready for new flooring installation! Well done!


As a side note, after our removal was complete, I noticed that the baseboards are unfortunately going to have to be painted AGAIN (ugh… did I mention that I hate painting trim? Yeah, I think I did… about 100 times). I guess that’s one more task I’ll have to complete this evening. Tomorrow morning, we’re beginning the install of the laminate flooring. Which style did I choose?  Stay tuned to find out!

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  1. Nice tutorial! Looks like it was relatively painless – you make it look easy! I'm excited to see your new flooring!

  2. I don’t think most people realize how involving carpet removal can be. You really need patience. Thanks for the tips :)