Old, ratty carpet tends to get noticed no matter what you do to hide it. You can layer on a new area rug, paint the walls a bright new shade, or install intriguing pendant lighting overhead, but carpet that’s seen better days will somehow always direct the spotlight toward its stains and tatters. Perhaps it’s because you know it needs to be changed that nothing works. After a while of trying to conceal it (and failing), this question will likely have crossed your mind: Is it possible to remove carpet on your own?
“While we usually recommend hiring a pro to remove your carpet, you can do it yourself if you have the time, tools, and talent to do it right,” Bailey Carson, Home Care Expert at Angi.
There are a few reasons why Carson doesn’t recommend this as a casual weekend job. For starters, the process can take much longer than that, and the work can be labor-intensive. And most importantly, if you don’t want to replace the carpet, you have to be very careful about not damaging the surface underneath. “But, if you’re handy and you want to try it, go for it,” she says. “Just make sure you have a good pro’s number on hand in case something goes wrong.”
Here’s what you need to know to get rid of your carpet—on your own terms.
Gather the Tools
The tools for this project are generally straightforward, and Carson recommends having everything on hand before you get going. You’ll need pliers or vise grips, a utility knife, a vacuum, a hammer, heavy-duty tape, a pry bar, and heavy-duty trash bags for the work itself. She also advises having eye protection, gloves, and a dust mask for safety. “Some people also find knee pads helpful since you’ll be kneeling for nearly for most of the project,” she adds.
Clean the Room
You can’t get to your carpet with all of that distracting furniture in the way, of course, so Carson says that the next step would be to clear it from the space. Once furnishings are out of the way—saving them from any dust or damage, too—make sure that baseboards don’t cover the carpet, either. If they do, gently take them off the walls with a pry bar. And one last thing to keep in mind: “You might want to remove any doors that swing into the room, as they’ll make it harder to access the edges of the carpet,” Carson notes.
Carefully Cut the Carpet
Now that the room is poised for this project, get your safety gear on and grab your utility knife. Think of your carpet like a giant sheet cake, and begin cutting it into even strips. You’ll want to cut into the material so that you slice through the base, Carson notes, but not so deep that you puncture the flooring or subfloor underneath.
Roll the Carpet Into a Corner
When that’s through, pull the carpet toward you starting at one of the room’s corners, picking up any tacks along the way. “You want to roll the carpet as you pull it, and then tape it shut once you get to the end of the room,” Carson says. “Put it aside to haul it away once the project is complete.”
At this point, you’ll likely see remnants of the padding that was installed with the carpet. Depending on how old your carpet is—or if you have pets who’ve made long-ago messes—removing padding can be the hardest part. To get started, sweep or vacuum away any pieces, and then use your pliers to remove staples. Spray a mixture of warm water and dish soap on the stubborn bits and let it absorb into the fibers. Then, remove them using a scraper tool, again being very careful to not damage the floor underneath. If the pieces are still stubbornly attached to the floor, try adding vinegar and water instead, and then lightly sanding them down. (This is the part where a professional would come in handy, since you can save money removing the carpet but might need help protecting your floors.)
Get Rid of Your Old Carpet
If you did hire a contractor to pull up the padding and replace your floors, then this person would also be able to get rid of your carpet. But if you’re doing everything yourself, Carson says that most carpet is recyclable but the rules for making that happen depend on where you live. Check with your city or town’s sanitation department to see when pick-up days are taking place, and use that time to prime your new flooring. When recycling isn’t an option, Carson has one more plan. “You may be able to toss it on bulk trash days or drop it off at local dumps, but check with your local trash and recycling center to be sure,” she says. Once your carpet has gone away for good, there won’t be anything left to hide.
Do you have a preferred way to take out carpet at home? Let us know in the comments!
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