How to remove old carpet

How To Remove Old Carpet In 5 Easy Steps

Thinking about having your carpet fitter uplift and remove your old carpet? Hold on, that might add to your bill.

Typically, a carpet fitter will charge an extra £30-50 for furniture removal from a room, and anywhere between £50-100 for an ‘up and away’ service (i.e. carpet removal). And that’s not even considering the potential expense if your subfloor needs some work.

But here’s a thought: why not tackle the removal yourself? It’s surprisingly straightforward, even if you’re new to DIY. With just half a day’s effort, you can say goodbye to that old carpet.

All you need are a few tools and this easy-to-follow guide.

When it’s time to change your carpet

Wondering when to pull up your old carpet? Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs:

  • Persistent, uncleanable stains
  • Irreparable rips or tears
  • Discolouration or damp spots, possibly from leaky plumbing or a faulty subfloor
  • The carpet no longer sticks to the subfloor properly
  • You want to give your space a fresh look without splashing out on new furniture. A lick of paint and a change of flooring can completely transform a room.

Essential tools for carpet removal

Here are some tools you may need for a smooth removal:

  • Utility knife
  • Dust mask
  • Pliers
  • Safety/work gloves
  • Crowbar
  • Floor scraper
  • Duct tape

Chances are, you already own most of these. If not, they’re available at reasonable prices in many DIY stores.

5 steps to remove carpet like a pro

Step 1: preparation is key

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. There are a couple of easy things you can do to ensure an effortless, stress-free removal of your old carpet before you even start pulling it up:

  • Empty the space: begin by moving all furniture and personal items out of the room. This might seem cumbersome, but having a clear workspace is crucial for efficiency and safety.
  • Plan your exit: ensure you have a straightforward path from the room to the outside, where you’ll dispose of the carpet. You want to be able to remove those cumbersome rolled-up carpet sections without having to navigate through obstacles. It will also guide just how big you cut the strips of carpet.

Step 2: getting started

With prep out of the way, let’s get to it:

  • Safety first: put on your work gloves and mask to protect your hands and lungs. Believe us when we say you won’t believe how much dust and dirt will be lurking underneath those carpets!
  • Start in the corner: choose a corner of the room to start as they are usually easier to lift.
  • Use the right tools: if your carpet is held down by grippers, gently tug at the corner with pliers and it should come away easily. For glued carpets, a floor scraper is your best friend to begin separating the carpet from the subfloor.

Step 3: how to remove carpet

Now it’s time to get that carpet up and out of there:

  • Work your way around: gently pull the edge of the carpet away from the entire perimeter of the room. This is easier if the carpet is installed with grippers but will require patience (and a bit of effort) if it has been stuck down with adhesive.
  • Sectioning the carpet: once loosened all the way around, use your utility knife to cut the carpet into manageable sections. If you prepped properly you should have an idea of just how big you want your rolls to be for easy extraction. Cut the carpet on the reverse side as it’s an easier surface to work with. Try to cut in a straight line and aim for about 24-36 inches in width for manageable rolls.
  • Roll and secure: after cutting each strip, roll it tightly and secure with duct tape if necessary. This not only makes the carpet easier to handle but also prepares it for disposal.

Step 4: how to remove carpet underlay

The carpet is gone, but don’t forget what lies beneath. You’re underlay more than likely needs to come up too:

  • Inspect the underlay: first, check the condition of your carpet underlay. If it’s in good shape and you’re replacing carpet with carpet, you may choose to leave it down. However, we would always advise replacing your underlay at the same time, otherwise it could fail before your new carpet does, reducing your flooring’s lifespan. If you’re switching from carpet to laminate or LVT, the underlay will definitely need to come up, as it won’t be suitable for your new flooring.
  • Removing staples or nails: underlay is usually secured with staples or nails to the subfloor. Use pliers or a hammer to remove these fasteners carefully, leaving the subfloor flat and clear of any protrusions. If the underlay is glued down (double-stick method), you will need to use a scraper to lift it.
  • Roll and remove: like the carpet, cut, roll and tape the underlay into manageable sections for easy removal.

Step 5: how to remove carpet grippers

You’ve done the hard bit, but don’t forget the finer details:

  • Assess the grippers: if you’re installing new carpet and the gripper rods are in good condition, you might save time and effort by leaving them in place. However, if they’re damaged, old or you’re switching to laminate or LVT, they’ll need to go.
  • Removing the grippers: use a crowbar to gently pry up the grippers. Wear your gloves, as the tacks are sharp. Lift them from the subfloor and dispose of them properly.

Disposing of old carpet

Once you’ve removed the carpet, underlay and grippers, you’re ready to dispose of everything. You’ve got a number of options here depending on the sheer volume you’re getting rid of:

  • Rent a skip: if you’re removing a lot of carpet, or undergoing a larger renovation, it may be easier and more cost-effective to hire a skip.
  • Local tip: check with your local tip to see if they will take carpet and underlay, which are both classed as ‘non-recyclable’ items. Many waste management facilities will let you dispose of it for free.
  • Recycle: carpet and underlay recycling programs are available in certain areas. Search online and you’ll find many specialist companies operating in this space now. It can be more effort, but it’s something Mother Nature will thank you for.

Bye bye, carpet

Removing a carpet by yourself not only saves money but will give you a sense of accomplishment. As you can see above, with the right tools and a bit of elbow grease, you can quickly and easily prepare your home for its brand-new look.