At first glance, the job of removing an old carpet sounds pretty easy. All you need to do is cut up the old carpet, pull it up, and then get rid of it. But the job of removing an old carpet is actually much more complicated than it seems and it can get downright nasty if you do not take a few preliminary pieces of information into account before you get started.

Tack Strips

If you are unfamiliar with the installation process of carpeting, then you will want to learn two words that will come back to haunt you when you remove the carpet; those words are tack strips. You will find tack strips around the perimeter of the room holding the carpet in place, but different installers use tack strips for different reasons.

Tack strips are one-inch wide strips of wood that have a lot of tiny nails in the sticking straight up. If you go around the edges of the carpet you have now, you might even be able to press the areas where the carpet meets the walls and feel the pointy nails. Tack strips are not only unpredictable, they can also be painful. As you remove your carpet, you will want to remove all of the tack strips as you find them and also be sure to remove the nails that hold the tack strips in place as well.


The biggest mistake homeowners make when they remove their first carpet is they eye it up and estimate that it would take a couple of garbage cans to get rid of all of it. Not only are there carpeting and tack strips to dispose of, but the padding can take up just as much room as the carpet. There may also be special laws in your town regarding the disposal of construction waste that you will have to follow.

The best approach is to measure your room and then call your local city hall to see if you need to follow any special disposal procedures. If you can dispose of it in a traditional manner, then contact your waste disposal company to see exactly how much it will cost to have your old carpet hauled away.


One material that is commonly used in carpet installation that most inexperienced carpet removers do not know about is glue. Installers will sometimes use glue or staples to hold the padding in place before putting down the carpet. If you had to choose between these two, you would want staples because staples are at least easy to remove. There are solvents you can buy that will dissolve glue, but they can leave a mess behind that is a pain to clean up.

Removing a carpet is not the simple job it appears to be. Everything from disposal space to the time needed to complete the project are going to be much more than you anticipated. The key is to set aside twice as much time to do the job as you think you will need and stay with it until the job is completely done.