Nailed or Glued: How to Skillfully Remove Fitted Carpeting

, - Mario Conte - February 12, 2021

Have you just bought a house, but hate the old-fashioned carpets? Swapping them out for brand new flooring may be more difficult than you think. There is always the risk that you will make the process more complicated than it has to be or that the subfloor will be damaged in the process.

In the ’60s and ’70s, it was very trendy to lay carpeting throughout the house as it is soft underfoot and provides great soundproofing. Nowadays, however, many prefer to remove it as it requires more maintenance and because of concerns as to how it might adversely affect air quality.

Whether it was originally nailed down or glued, here is what you need to do to avoid any problems. 

Wear A Mask! The Glue May Release Dangerous Fumes.

Wear a mask! The glue may release dangerous fumes.


It is harder to remove carpeting that has been glued into place over being simply nailed down. People regularly get injured — often in the back — while carrying out this reno project. Renting a machine specially designed for this purpose can make your life easier. But if you prefer the DIY route, follow these steps.

  1. Assemble your tools: a utility knife (X-ACTO or other sharp cutting tool), scraper (or flexible putty knife), strong flat pliers and a sander. Wear gloves and a mask for protection. The glue may release chemical fumes.
  2. Starting in a corner, cut the carpet into strips with your cutting tool. The strips should be about 25 cm wide.
  3. Using the pliers, lift the strips one at a time.
  4. Detach each strip from the subfloor with the scraper or flexible knife.
  5. Once the entire subfloor has been exposed, sand it down to remove the remaining glue.
Your Carpet May Be Concealing A Magnificent Hardwood Floor. Just Give It A Good Sanding And Voilà!

Your carpet may be concealing a magnificent hardwood floor. Just give it a good sanding and voilà!


When the time has come to pull up an old carpet, count your lucky stars if it was originally installed with nails. It will be much simpler to remove than if it had been glued. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t equally a lengthy process. In both cases, you will have to work patiently. Follow these steps.

  1. Assemble your tools: a utility knife (X-ACTO or other sharp cutting tool), crowbar, hammer and pliers. Wear gloves to protect hands from nails and staples. You won’t need a mask.
  2. Cut out a corner of the carpeting, for example, by removing a triangle-shaped piece. If you want to keep the subfloor, be careful not to damage it with the blade.
  3. Slide your fingers underneath the carpet through the opening and pull it to try to lift a section. It is important that you listen to your body during this step: this is when people are most likely to get hurt. If you are not strong enough, ask for help.
  4. If one area won’t budge, you can try another by cutting a corner as in step 2. You can work in several small sections at a time to make it easier.
  5. When all the carpeting has been removed, pull out the nails and staples with the pliers, hammer and crowbar, as needed.
  6. The tack strips should also be removed using the crowbar. It may be necessary to hit the crowbar with the hammer to pry the strips off. Are you simply replacing the old carpet with a new one? Leave the tack strips in place.
  7. If you discover a layer of foam padding under the carpeting, remove it using the same tools (hammer, pliers, crowbar). It won’t cause any harm to leave it in place but taking it off as well will mean a job well done.

Now that your old glued or nailed carpeting is gone, all that remains is to restore the wooden floor to its former glory, if it can be salvaged. In some cases, a throughout sanding and fresh coat of varnish is all you’ll need. Otherwise, simply install the new flooring of your choice.

Article originally published on Mon Coin de Vie

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