How to Remove Carpet from Hardwood Floors

Sara Miller
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Did you recently uncover a beautiful hardwood floor underneath carpet after recently purchasing a home? When carpet is installed over your hardwood floor, you have two options: one, remove the carpet and let the natural beauty of a hardwood floor stand out, or two, replace the old carpet with another type of carpet. Though a lot of people prefer to hire professional help, you can save a lot of money by doing the job yourself. We are here to tell you how.

First: Define How It's Attached

When removing carpet from hardwood floors, it is first important to find out how it is attached in the first place. Is it attached by adhesive or do nails and/or tacks attach it? The steps you will take and the tools you will need will depend on what is holding the carpet in place. 


When carpet is attached to hardwood floors by adhesive, find out what type of adhesive was used. If it is a dark brown or a tan adhesive, then it is tar based, and mineral spirits can be used to remove the adhesive. If you're looking at a yellow-looking substance, then it is likely a general carpet adhesive. This type can be lightly scraped and chipped off, after which, an all-purpose adhesive remover may be used.

If tacks or nails are the attaching agents when removing carpet from hardwood floors, the tools you will need are work gloves, utility knife, needle nose pliers, hammer, pry bar, safety glasses, and a broom.

Nailed or Tacked Carpet

If the carpet is attached by nails or tacks, use a pliers to take out each of the nails or tacks. Start in a corner; just grab the carpet with pliers and pull. Then grab the carpet by hand, continuing your way around the room. To make it easier to take out the carpet, use an exacto knife to cut the carpet into sections. Instead of aggressively yanking the tacks, you should patiently twist them sideways until they come off. If there are too many nails it may not be worthwhile to remove them, and you might consider leaving them for a "distressed" or "antique" style wood floor. During all of this, be sure to wear safety glasses. Nails and tacks may suddenly fly out by accident, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

Preparing the Floor

Once all of the tacks/adhesive are removed, now it's time to preserve the look of your hardwood floor. The next step is to sand the floor; you can do this with the help of a professional or by renting a sander at a home goods store. Once the area is sanded, then you'll want to apply a finish or stain. Stains also can either be purchased at a home goods store or can be done professionally. 

To install carpet over a hardwood floor, first you'll need to measure the area you're installing, install a foam underlayment to fit between the hardwood and carpet layers, then tack the carpet down. Fit and install the foam, then lay the top layer of carpet down to then tack down. You can also hire professionals to help with this step. 

More Resources:

This Old House, "Restoring Hardwood Floors Under Carpeting

Yahoo! Voices, "Removing Old Carpet from Hardwood Floors - What to Expect"