Carpet on hardwood floors

September 24, 2021
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When you find hardwood floors under your old carpet, you would probably want to remove the carpet and let the natural beauty of a hardwood floor stand out, or you may just want to replace it with another type or color of carpet. Though a lot of people prefer to hire professional help, you can save a lot of money by just doing the job yourself.

When removing carpet from hardwood floors, it is first important to find out how it was originally attached. It may be attached by adhesive or it may be attached by nails and/or tack strips. The steps you will take and the tools you will need will depend on the answer to that question.

See this helpful video below on "How to Remove Carpet from Hardwood Flooring"

How to Remove Carpet Adhesive

When carpet is attached to hardwood floors by adhesive, you must first find out the type of adhesive that was used. If it is a dark brown or a tan adhesive, then it is probably tar based and mineral spirits can be used.

If it is a yellow-looking substance, then it is likely a general carpet adhesive. This can be lightly scraped and gently chipped off. After which, an all-purpose adhesive remover may be used. In any case, professional refinishing may be required.

Please take note that adhesive removers are solvent based, and therefore are very flammable. Turn off all possible sources of sparks or open flames, including pilot lights and cigarettes. Also, make sure that the room is properly ventilated, as the fumes can cause serious health risks due to their toxicity.

Removing Tacks or Nails from Carpets

If your carpeting is attached using tacks or nails, there are a few simple tools you will need for the job. First off, a good set of knee pads and work gloves will be well worth the money. The hand tools you will need are, utility knife, needle nose pliers or end cutting pliers, hammer, pry bar, and safety glasses.

Starting in a corner of the room, pull the carpet loose from the tack strip with a pair of pliers. Continue pulling the carpet loose all along the walls. When the carpet is free from the tack strip use the utility knife to begin cutting it into sections that can be easily handled. While doing this, hold the carpet slightly away from the padding to prevent from cutting into and damaging the hardwood below.

How to Remove Carpet Padding

After the carpet has been removed it's time to work on the padding. It is usually held down by staples along all the seams. You can start at any seam and pull the pad loose from the floor.

Some of the staples will come out with the pad but most will remain in the floor with a small piece of the pad still attached. Again, cut the padding into sections that can easily be handled, taking care to hold it away from the floor below so as not to cut into it.

With the large sections of pad removed, you can begin removing the remaining staples. If you are going to have the floors sanded and finished, you can use your pry bar and gently scrape the chunks of pad and staples from the floor. If not, use your pliers to remove the pad and staples by grabbing and gently prying them loose.

If you are going to install new carpet, you are finished!

Removing the Tack Strip

If you are planning on refinishing your hardwood floors, you will need to remove the tack strip. This can be somewhat of a difficult job, but by using your pry bar, hammer, and pliers it can be accomplished.

Pick a starting point and slide the pry bar under the end of the tack strip. You may need to use your hammer to gently tap it. Once you have a good "bite" gently pry it away from the floor. There will be multiple nails in each piece of tack strip, so work your way down the strip and repeat the process at each nail.

The tack strip will probably break into smaller pieces and some of the nails may remain in the floor. If this happens, just use your pliers to carefully remove the nails.

Once you are done with removing the tack strip, and are planning to use the floor as it is, you may want to find a colored wood putty to fill in any nail or staple holes.

If you are going to have the hardwood floors professionally refinished, you will not need to fill any holes as this should be done during the refinishing process.

Safety Tips During Carpet Removal

During all of this, be sure to wear the safety glasses. Nails and tacks may suddenly fly out by accident, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

So remember, if you're going to remove your old carpet to restore your hardwood floors, be careful and take your time.

Depending on the amount of carpet to be removed, you may be saving yourself a substantial amount of money.

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