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How to remove carpet: complete step by step guide

how to remove carpet

We outline the steps for how to remove carpet, including how to remove carpet glue, expert tips and what to avoid doing for an easier result.

Carpet was the trend of the 1970s and no household would be imaginable without it. But what if the old carpet is getting on in years? Stains, age-related marks or the desire for something new: there are many reasons for a new floor covering. With this step-by-step guide you can remove your old carpet without any problems.
Anyone who wants to completely remove a carpet needs patience, because old glue is often stubborn. Trust our step by step guide.

Anyone planning a move and clearing the old apartment has to carry out cosmetic repairs themselves. Actually, removing the carpet is not one of your tasks as a tenant – actually! However, if your rental agreement contains a corresponding clause, you cannot avoid disposing of the old flooring yourself. The condition agreed in the contract when moving out is always decisive. How to care for carpets properly: 7 things to watch out for

How to remove carpet: step by step

If laying the carpet was still relatively easy, you could reach your limits when removing it. Some carpets stick like chewing gum and are very difficult to remove. How well you do this unpleasant job also depends on the coating on the back of the carpet.

It is best to find out which carpet backing is suitable for what (e.g. underfloor heating) and which material can be easily removed before buying. If you have neglected to do this and now need to get rid of the old carpet, you have to use spatulas etc .

Step 1: Remove carpet strips or skirting boards

Under no circumstances should you start cutting the carpet with a craft knife at random. First of all, the carpet strips have to be removed. Are there none at all in your room? Lucky! For all others, the following applies: carefully slide a spatula behind the skirting board and bend it forwards with a little pressure. Glued skirting boards almost always come off without any problems. Once the carpet strips are screwed on, use a screwdriver.

Before you can remove the carpet, you must first remove the existing baseboards that hide the gap between the carpet and the wall. To do this, slide a spatula behind the bar and carefully pry it off the wall – baseboards fixed with steel nails can usually be removed easily. If the strips are screwed on, you must first remove the screws to prevent damagewallpaperand avoid wall.

Plastic baseboards are often covered with carpet strips on the front – these should be disposed of and replaced with new ones, because removing the old carpet remains is often very difficult due to the strong bonding with double-sided adhesive tape.

Step 2: Check the carpet bonding

To determine the best way to remove the carpet, you need to check it out. To get started, it is very helpful if you know how the carpet was laid back then (adhesive strips, glue). If you don’t know, start in a corner. If you only loosen the carpet at one corner at the beginning, you can find out whether it has been glued flat or is only attached with adhesive tape.

Try to reach behind the edge of the carpet and pull the carpet up. If you don’t succeed, take some warm water and spray it on the edge of the carpet. Now patience is required! Let the water work for at least an hour and then try again to loosen the carpet corner, which should work without any problems.

Step 3: Remove carpet strip by strip

You do not get the complete carpet detached in one piece, so always remove individual strips. To do this, cut strips about 30 cm wide with a cutter or carpet knife and then peel them off (start on the wall). Don’t be alarmed, in most cases there is glue residue that has to be removed later (see step 4). Be careful with wooden floors

How to remove carpet over floorboards

If there are wooden floorboards under the old carpeting, proceed with particular care. Otherwise, scratched boards have to be sanded down and sealed again afterwards. How to seal floorboards properly

Step 4: How to remove carpet glue and residue

This step could be the most arduous, depending on how well you are doing. If the old carpet had a foam backing, there is almost always glue residue. You can get this off with a spatula, which requires a little effort. A distinction must also be made as to whether water-soluble or non-water-soluble adhesives were used when laying.

✘ water soluble glue
To find out if the glue is water-soluble, simply soak the carpet. Be careful not to get too wet! Let everything take effect and try again and again to see if the carpet can be removed. If so, just pull it off.

✘ water-insoluble glue
This is the far worse option, but it can happen. Soaking does not help here, you have to go to work with manpower and continue with step 5.

Step 5: How to remove carpet like the pros

The carpet is attached with tape?

If only the edges of the floor covering are glued with double-sided adhesive tape, this can be removed relatively easily. First, tear off the rubberized back of the carpet from the adhesive strip. Then cut the carpet into strips and roll them up one after the other. So you can easily dispose of them in a garbage bag. Only then do you remove the old adhesive tape from the floor with a sharp spatula. Tip: If it sticks strongly, you should warm it up with a hot air blower – this will make it easier to remove from the screed.

Is the carpet firmly glued?

The best trick to test which glue was used to fix the carpet: dampen a corner with boiling water and let it soak into the carpet. After waiting two hours, start carefully lifting the carpet at this corner.

If you can easily remove the carpet, the glue is water-soluble. Good news, because with the help of hot water and a little patience, removing the old carpet is no problem. You can easily moisten the entire surface with a metal watering can. After the application time of about two hours, the carpet can be easily removed, ideally cut into strips.

If the carpet cannot be removed or is difficult to remove after moistening, it is synthetic resin or another water-insoluble adhesive. In this case, removing the old carpet is much more tedious and requires strength as well as patience.

Use a carpet knife or cutter to cut your carpet into strips about 30 to 50 centimeters wide – but be careful not to damage the floor underneath. For such cases there are so-called hook blades for carpet knives, which are blunt on the underside.

After cutting the carpet, start in a corner and then pull the strips off with one jerk. In this way you can loosen the whole carpet step by step, whereby the rubberized back is often over a large area.

Using a carpet stripper

If you have a large area of carpet to remove, there is technical support: The so-called stripper is a mechanical device that you can hire in many hardware stores.

If you have several rooms in which old carpeting has to be removed, the use of the stripper is recommended. Buying a large professional device ($850 – $1,200) is not worthwhile for private households, so it is better to ask the local hardware store for a loaner or hire one. The stripper works like a kind of scraper. A blade is attached to the front edge, which is pushed across the floor and thus completely removes all carpet and glue residues.

For small areas, however, devices for home use are also suitable, such as the home electric scraper, which also contains several attachments. A hand scraper, which is available for little money, is also useful.

Depending on the performance of the device, the rental costs can also be higher. Check which model is sufficient for your needs. The stripper pushes a blade under the carpet and removes it step by step. Alternatively, you can use a Multifunction tool.

Those who work in advance will be rewarded: If you are using a stripper, first cut the carpet into strips, taking into account the width of the stripper. If the strips are a little narrower than the blade, working with the stripper works best. Even when loosening the carpet with a stripper, always start at a seam or edge.

When removing the carpet by machine, the dust is generated even more than with the manual method. Therefore, you should keep the doors closed, open all windows and wear a dust mask. The most effective way to remove dust is with an industrial vacuum cleaner from the hardware store.

Incidentally, the particularly stubborn carpet adhesives, which are difficult to remove, are often two-component adhesives. These adhesives were widely used in the 1970s and can be identified by the yellow glue residue. Experienced craftsmen even recommend using these carpet adhesives.

How to remove carpet glue residue

After removing the carpet, you must completely remove the remaining adhesive residue. Because even well-set old glue can cause nasty surprises when laying the new floor covering if it comes into contact with the new glue – from chemical reactions to the formation of bubbles.

Cleaning the screed requires some effort and time if you scrape off the remains with a spatula. When removing adhesive or foam residues, it is better not to use nitro-containing solvents — even small doses of these are hazardous to health and are not suitable for removing carpets.

Alternatively, there are special solvents to remove the carpet glue. It is essential that you follow the instructions for use with regard to the amount and the exposure time. With the help of these products, most adhesives can be removed with relative ease. However, these products can be hazardous to health if not used carefully and should only be used in well-ventilated rooms and with a respirator and gloves.

Once the old carpet has been completely removed, you should prepare the floor for the new covering. With a leveling compound from the hardware store, you can remove cracks and unevenness in the screed and create a good basis for the new flooring. Our tip: You can also use a floor grinder for large areas or severe damage. Finally, prepare the floor with a primer for the new flooring.

When removing carpets, always remember that especially in older houses, under the old carpeting, a high-quality parquet floor or beautifulWooden floorboardscan be hidden. Help these “natural resources” regain their shine: Simply remove the scratches that occurred when removing the old carpet by sanding it off and seal it then with wax or oil.

Removing carpets: the most important things in brief:

  • Remove the baseboards and cut the carpet into strips before removing.
  • Check the bond and use a stripper for stubborn adhesives.
  • Remove adhesive residue with the spatula and suitable solvents. If in doubt, a stripping machine can help.

Tip: Even if the substrate is to be sanded down and treated further – as is the case with wooden floorboards, for example – it is important to thoroughly remove the residues.

Last step: remove carpet residue and carpet adhesive and level out any irregularities

If old adhesive and carpet residues remain on the floor, absolutely scrape them off completely with a spatula. If a new carpet is simply laid over it, mold can form underneath . In addition, the newly applied adhesive can still react even with the old adhesive that has set. However, be careful with nitro-containing solvents, these are not suitable for removing adhesive residues or foam backing residues and can also be hazardous to health.

After the carpet has been removed and before a new covering is laid , cracks, scratches and irregularities in the floor should also be repaired. A leveling compound smooths out unevenness and also serves as the basis for the new flooring. How to level a floor correctly

It is also conceivable that wooden floorboards or parquet floors, for example, will appear under the old carpeting. These can be prepared again. Since removing the carpet can leave scratches on wooden floors, the wood should be sanded and resealed after it has been exposed.

Preparation for the new surface

Before the new carpet is laid on the existing sub-floor, the floor must be free of dirt, residues and dust and be absolutely dry. Cracks, scratches and irregularities caused by scraping off glue and carpet residues should also be leveled out. A leveling compound can, for example, ensure a level and homogeneous surface on screed floors, on which the new adhesive adheres well. How to renovate and sand a wood timber or parquet floor

gerhardt-richter Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and construction.

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