How to... Get Rid of Carpet

How to... Get Rid of Carpet

Jonathan B.
Dec 3, 2007


Carpet is not so green. Even a fine wool carpet will almost always contains offgassing adhesives. And all carpets, natural or synthetic, capture dust and dirt. Follow these instructions to give carpet the heave-ho and make your home a bit cleaner and greener.

You'll need these tools:

• utility knife, preferably fitted with a hook blade (to reduce the chance of cutting the floor underneath or yourself)
• pliers of some sort
• a sturdy 3" wide putty knife for prying up carpet tack strip and edging under staples
• a hammer for removing nails from carpet tack strip and easing putty knife under stubborn sections of tack strip
• Band-Aids for when you cut your hands on the carpet tack strip
• a dust mask
• packing tape
• thick-soled shoes, heavy leather gloves, long pants, and, if you're smarter than we were, kneepads
• a vacuum, dustpan, and broom
• a high tolerance for dust and other yucky stuff.

Ready? Let's get started.


Vacuum the entire room several times to reduce the amount of dust you're about to kick up. Starting in the corner furthest from the door, use the pliers to loosen the carpet along about 4' of both sides of the corner. Using the utility knife, cut a strip about 3' from the corner.


Start to roll up the strip. Depending on how loose your carpet is, you may have to roll a bit, then cut a bit more, or you may be able to cut the strip all at once. Continue rolling until you reach the other side of the room. Repeat the process to remove the pad, being especially careful not to scar the floor with the knife.


Be careful at doorways, especially if the carpet continues into the next room. Pull the carpet off the seam tape, or cut it neatly across using a straight edge so the cut edge falls under the door when it is shut. You can get a piece of metal trim at most hardware stores to cover the raw edge.


Don gloves (and avoid the cuts we got!) and start to work on the tack strip. It is secured to the floor with tenacious nails and is often old and splintery. It's to your advantage to get it up in one piece, but that's not always possible. Work the edge of the putty knife underneath near the nail...


...rotate so the edge of the blade is parallel to the length of the tack strip...


...and pry up.


Use the hammer to remove any stubborn nails that stayed behind when you pulled up the tack strip.


Sweep, vacuum, then clean the floor with a damp mop.


Dispose of used carpet at a carpet recycler near you, take a hot bath, and nurse your wounds... and at least one martini.

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