Carpet
Learn all you need to know about carpet, one of the most affordable and popular flooring options.

How to Replace Carpet in 6 Steps (2024)

Carpets can last quite a while, but like most types of flooring, they won't last forever. Perhaps it's worn out and faded, or you're dealing with pest issues. Tearing out carpet is reasonably simple, but it takes effort and a couple of hours of work. 

Once you tear it out, you can install whatever flooring material you want. Hardwood can be an excellent replacement, as it lasts much longer than carpet and is far more hygienic — it won't hang onto bugs, dirt, debris, or moisture. This article explores a step-by-step guide to removing your carpet and sending you well on your way to beautiful hardwood floors (or whatever flooring material you choose). 

If you're ready to start looking for an installer for one of the best cheap flooring options, get a few quotes from local flooring experts.


6 Steps to Removing Your Old Carpet

While removing your old carpet isn't the most complicated home renovation task, it takes some grunt work and sweat equity. The process involves several steps, from cutting it into strips for easy removal to pulling tack strips to prepare for new flooring. 

Before removing your carpet, wear proper safety gear to avoid injuries. The tack strip hiding beneath the carpet can be brutal, so wear gloves and watch where you kneel. Keep the space well-ventilated, as removing the carpet often stirs up decades of dust lodged in and under the carpeting. 

Lastly, creating a designated space for waste doesn't hurt, as this will make things go smoother when it's time to dispose of the cast-offs. Once you're ready, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare and clear the space.
  2. Cut the carpet into strips.
  3. Pull up and roll the carpet strips. 
  4. Remove tack strips if necessary.
  5. Remove the carpet padding. 
  6. Unfray and replace the carpet. 

1. Prepare and Clear the Space

Couple carrying furniture out of a room to prepare for carpet removal

Before removing the carpet from your home, you need to prepare the space. You'll need a completely empty space, as juggling furniture around the room as you work can be tricky and time-consuming. 

So, start by emptying the room of all furniture. Remove the doors in the room, including doors into the main part of your home, bathroom doors, and closet doors. Gently remove the baseboards or shoe moldings from the room with a pry bar and set them aside for use later. If you don't plan to reuse them, you don't need to be as careful — but take care not to damage the wall during removal. 

2. Cut Carpet into Strips

Worker cutting carpet to remove
Image Source: Canva

Once your workspace is ready and clear, it's time to slice the carpet into strips. Carpeting often comes in large sheets, so cutting it into strips makes it much more manageable to remove and dispose of. 

Using a utility knife, slice through the carpet, ensuring you cut just deep enough to get through the carpet. Do your best to avoid cutting the padding underneath if you plan to reuse it, and be careful not to hit the subfloor beneath. 

3. Pull Up and Roll Carpet

Worker rolling up carpet for removal
Image Source: Canva

Once the carpet is cut into strips, begin pulling it up. Wear work gloves to protect your hands and start at one corner of the room. We also recommend wearing a mask and safety glasses, as this part can get dusty. To begin the process, you might need a pair of pliers — grasping the carpet initially can be tricky. 

Grab the corner of the carpet with a pair of pliers and pull firmly toward you to detach it from the tack strip that secures it to the floor. Once you get it started, you can set the pliers aside and use your gloved hands to rip it out the rest of the way. 

Once you rip out one section, roll it up and carry the rolls of carpet to your disposal area. Secure the roll with duct tape to prevent it from unrolling before setting it down. Repeat the process with the remaining carpet, tearing it outstrip by strip. 

If you're pulling the carpet out from a stairwell, start at the top. You'll need to pry up the metal nosing on the top stair to begin removing it. Sometimes these have screws, so you must unscrew them before prying them away. 

Once the metal nosing is gone, grasp the corner of the carpeting with pliers and pull it toward you to detach it from the tack strips. If the carpet is continuous, it might be easier to slice it into sections as you go to make it more manageable. Follow the same rolling, taping, and disposal methods as before. 

4. Remove Tack Strips if Needed

Exposed carpet tack strips that need to be removed
Image Source: Canva

Once the carpet is gone, you'll be left with long strips of tack and carpet padding. You don't need to remove the tacks if you plan to install new wall-to-wall carpet. However, if you're switching to hardwood or another flooring material, you must tear the tack strips out to prepare for the new flooring. 

You'll need a hammer, paint scraper, and a crowbar or pry bar to remove the tack strips. Tap the paint scraper underneath the tack strip with a hammer to create a gap the pry bar can fit into. Alternatively, you can skip the paint scraper and tap the pry bar under each tack strip with the hammer. 

Once you wedge the pry bar under the tack strip, pry up the tack strip. Work along each wall, removing the tack strips as you go. These strips come in specific lengths, so you'll probably need to repeat the tapping process as you work the pry bar under individual strips. 

Dispose of the tack strips in a heavy-duty trash bag. They're sharp, so be careful when handling and disposing of them. Additionally, watch where you step when the tack strips are exposed, as they can easily puncture the skin. Be sure to wear gloves as you work — the wooden boards of the strips can splinter as you remove them. 

5. Remove Carpet Padding

Man removing carpet underlay

The padding beneath your carpet is usually secured in one of two ways: with glue or staples. Glue is more common for concrete flooring, but staples are standard with wooden subfloors. If the padding is glued to the floor, rip it out with gloved hands. You might need to use a pry bar to lift a corner of the padding to get it started. 

Sometimes, you might need a commercial adhesive remover or a power oscillating tool to remove stubborn stuck patches. Alternatively, use a floor scraper with a sharp blade to pry away stubborn pieces. Whichever method you use, be sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection, as the air can quickly become dust-laden. 

If the carpet is secured with staples, use a pair of pliers to remove the staples near the wall. Since there are hundreds of staples securing carpet padding to wood subfloors, removing them one by one is time-consuming. 

Once you lift the edges, use a long-handled floor scraper with a sharp blade to blaze through the rest of the staples. Push the scraper like a push broom, lifting and slicing staples in the carpet padding throughout the room. You can also use a specialized tool known as a carpet staple remover if you have one available. 

When removing carpet padding from stairs, it's usually easiest to use pliers to remove the staples. Roll it up and tape it together once you detach the padding from the floor. Dispose of it with the rest of the carpet. 

6. Unfray and Replace the Carpet

Man using a knee kicker to stretch new carpet
Image Source: Canva

Removing the carpet from the entire room may not be necessary. If you want to keep the carpet but there's damage to specific sections, you can treat those areas accordingly without removing the entire thing. 

You can repair minor fraying with a few drops of seam glue, as this will prevent the edges from fraying further. For a cleaner look, snip off the scraggly pieces of carpeting before applying the glue. 

If you need to replace a patch of carpet, you'll need some extra carpet that matches the existing one, carpet tape, a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, a utility knife, scissors, and a long nail. 

Start by finding the columns and rows, as the carpet is laid this way. Using a long nail, trace up the columns and across the rows, leaving about half an inch of leeway around the damaged section. Next, slice out the damaged portion, cutting out as little as possible. 

Don't slice too deep, as you might cut into the padding. Make shallow cuts to ensure you don't damage the material underneath. Once you remove the damaged portion, trace the shape onto a piece of paper with a pen or pencil. 

Set the shape on the back side of your extra carpet and cut around it with a utility knife. Test fit the donor piece of carpet, ensuring it fits snugly. If there's overlap, it's no big deal. You don't want excessive overlap, as this will create bubbles and warps — but if it sits fairly snugly, it'll be fine. 

Once you test fit the piece and confirm it's snug, lay strips of carpet tape along the edges of the hole. For added security, add a couple of drops of glue around the perimeter of the hole, being careful to avoid getting it on the carpet fibers. Ensure the tape is laid completely flat, then fit the donor carpet into the space and press it firmly into place. 

Fluff the edges of the new carpet with your hands to help blend the edges into the surrounding carpet, and you're good to go!


What Tools and Materials Do You Need to Remove Carpet?

For carpet removal in your home, you'll need a few essential tools, including the following:

  • A long nail
  • A piece of paper
  • Carpet tape
  • Commercial adhesive remover or power oscillating tool (as necessary) 
  • Donor carpet
  • Duct tape
  • Hammer
  • Heavy-duty trash bags
  • Long-handled floor scraper
  • Paint scraper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Pliers 
  • Protective gear, including a mask, safety glasses, and work gloves
  • Pry bar
  • Scissors 
  • Screwdriver 
  • Utility knife

While you might not need all the tools and materials in this list, it doesn't hurt to have them on hand, just in case.


More Carpeting Information

Learn all you need to know for any and all of your carpeting projects in our other articles.

The prices of home mortgage loans are determined by the lender, who investigates your FICO score with three main credit bureaus. Then, they calculate your loan-to-value ratio — this is the amount of the requested loan compared to the home’s appraised value.

Lenders also use this ratio to decide whether you need to pay for private mortgage insurance. PMI protects the lender by sharing a part of the risk with a mortgage insurer. If an LTV is higher than 80 percent, meaning that you own less than 20 percent equity in the home, most lenders will require a PMI for the loan.

For many people, a home loan is the biggest financial commitment they’ll ever make, so it’s important to learn and understand all the options before making decisions.

First-time buyers are at a slight advantage, as the federal government often offers incentives such as reduced deposit requirements.


Should I Hire a Professional to Remove My Carpet?

Removing carpets isn't an overly complex task, so most homeowners don't have any issues completing the project themselves. However, hiring a professional to remove the carpet can sometimes be more logical. 

For example, hiring a professional can eliminate that worry if you don't have any way to haul the old carpet away. Most companies will remove and dispose of it for you, alleviating that hassle altogether. Plus, many can do new carpet installation on the same day.

Maybe you're busy, the carpet is filthy, or you don't want to deal with the mess. Either way, hiring a professional might be the most logical choice — but it's up to you. 

Get a Flooring Installation Estimate From Local Experts
Typical Cost: $6 - $24 per sq foot

FAQs About Removing Carpet

Do you have to remove the baseboards to remove the carpet?

Generally, it’s best to remove baseboards when removing your carpet — unless the carpet isn’t tucked underneath the baseboards. The tack strips sit along the edge of the wall — so if you don’t remove the baseboard sitting on top of the carpet, you’ll have a hard time removing the carpet and tack strips.


What can you do with the leftover carpet?

You can do all sorts of things with leftover carpet that don’t involve wasting it. For example, you can hang onto the roll in case you need to repair damaged carpet in your home, as this will ensure you have a perfect match. Or, you can get creative with it, using it to line a chest, protect your vehicle’s trunk, or checkerboard a room.


What is the cheapest way to get rid of carpet?

If your carpet is still in good condition, you can clean it up and sell or donate it. However, you can throw it away if it’s in rough shape or is sliced into numerous pieces. However, carpet can be heavy, so taking it to the dump can be expensive. There are multiple disposal locations and waste recycling facilities throughout cities in the United States, so check your local options to find the best, cheapest fit for you.


[adinserter block="23"][adinserter block="24"]

Meet the Contributors

Danny Lipford

Founder

Joe Truini

Contributor

Jodi Marks

Jodi Marks

Contributor

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Staff Writer

Alora Bopray

Alora Bopray

Staff Writer

Sam Wasson

Sam Wasson

Staff Writer

Alexis Curls

Alexis Curls

Staff Writer

Amy DeYoung

Amy DeYoung

Contributor

Sean Donnelly

Sean Donnelly

Contributor

Sarah Horvath

Sarah Horvath

Contributor

Jonathon Jachura

Jonathon Jachura

Contributor

Sharon Lord

Contributor

Coty Perry

Coty Perry

Contributor

Dan Simms

Dan Simms

Contributor

Dani Straughan

Dani Straughan

Contributor