10 Tools that You Need to Remove Carpet

We've gotten pretty good at removing carpet {3 different homes and at least 3600 sq ft of it}. It's a completely reasonable project for a novice DIYer and it will save you money when you have flooring installed, since they won't need to do any demo.

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As we've completed each project, we've honed in on our favorite tools.

1. Heavy Duty Utility Knife

It's easy to pull up an entire room of carpet in one section. It's NOT easy to roll, transport and dispose this single section of carpet.

So, cut first. We typically cut 3-4 ft wide sections. If the carpet is over plywood or concrete, just press the utility knife through the carpet and pad. You don't need to worry about damaging anything.

If the carpet is over hardwood, you'll want to be careful not to puncture through the carpet pad. Start in a closet and get a feel for how much pressure you should apply. Once the carpet is up, lift the pad and use the utility knife to cut it.

We really like this knife, that has a quick blade change, by Stanley.

2. Pry Bar & Hammer

After the carpet is up, find the nails in the tack strips. In that spot, press the pry bar up against the tack strip and tap it with a hammer until the strip starts to lift. Slide the pry bar down to the next nail and repeat until the strip is loose from the floor.

Use a solid, heavy hammer so that you don't need to use much effort hitting the pry bar.

This hammer will also be handy in the case of a popped-up nail. You can either pull it out or hammer it back in place.

3. Heavy Duty Staple Remover

This tool is perfect for pulling up carpet staples. I've use it with both hardwood and plywood floors and shared a video tutorial here. It will save you tons of time and is most definitely worth the $8.

view the tutorial here

4. Pliers

You'll run across some staples that only come lose on one side. Use the pliers to pull these out.

5. Foot Stool & Knee Pad

A foot stool will save your back when bending over staples and tack strips. Knee pads can be helpful too; but I personally prefer to sit on a low foot stool. 

6. Gloves

The underside of carpet is tough on your hands. Also, tack strips aren't much fun to touch {ouch!} and repeatedly pressing on the staple remover can wear blisters into your hands. The safest bet is to use gloves for every step.

7. Eye Protection & Dust Masks

Carpet is dusty and dirty {a great reason to switch to laminate or hardwood}. To avoid getting small particles in your eyes, or sneezing and hacking, grab these protective items.

8. Heavy Duty Trash Bags

You need - at a minimum - heavy duty bags like this. We like "lawn bags" for the tack strips. The thick paper doesn't puncture as easily as the plastic bags do.

9. Screwdriver

Depending on the types of closet doors in your home, you may need to remove them when pulling up carpet. A screwdriver is typically all you need to get the door off the track.

10. Shop Vac & Broom

After the carpet comes up, there is a fair amount of dust and carpet debris. Then, as you remove tack strips and staples, it gets worse. A broom is handy to keep the mess under control; but a shop vac is needed to really get everything off the floor. I'll typically sweep an area and then repeat with the shop vac. It will pick up stray staples, tacks and dust that I missed with the broom. I also like to run the shop vac along the baseboards to get the dust that has collected in that gap.

We own this one {which, I believe, we got from Lowes on Black Friday years ago} and have used it for sawdust, standing water and more.

For 600 sq ft, we spent about 15 hours (between 3 people) working -- and that is counting moving the furniture and such in/out of rooms. This time allotment depends on how many staples there are in each room. Typically, pulling up the carpet is fairly quick. The tack strips can take time, but there is only as much as there are walls. Staples, however, will just depend on the original installation. There was a normal amount in this house {every few inches along the seams and walls}, but there were many, many more in the last house that we completed.

The next time you see this room, it should be looking a little more like this!


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