Photo: Gravity Images / The Image Bank / Getty Images
Saturday skill builder.
Time to complete
It could take up to 4 hours.
Just a short shopping trip (or online order).
Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.
What you'll need:
Hammer or nail removing tool
Respirator or N-95 mask
Refinishing your floors is a great way to update your home. But, if you’re ditching the old carpet for wood floors, you might face a sticky situation. Carpet padding can adhere to flooring, making it tricky to clean up without damaging the surface.
In this how-to guide, learn to remove carpet padding safely and effectively in just a few hours.
Prepping to Remove Carpet Padding From Floors
Before you go through the expense of removing your carpeting, make sure it’s something you need to do. If your carpet is still in good condition but has funky odors or difficult-to-remove stains, you may be able to save money by paying for a local carpet cleaner instead.
If you do decide to remove padding, a respirator or N-95 mask is highly encouraged. Your carpet is likely home to lots of dust particles and debris, which you don't really want to breathe in. Open windows and turn a fan on if possible to promote ventilation and circulation.
The cost of carpet cleaning varies depending on your location and home size, but expect to pay about $0.20 to $0.40 cents per square foot, on average.
Pull Back Your Carpet Padding
Begin at a corner in the room that’s away from the entryway. Use a putty knife to loosen the edge of your carpet to pull it back. Pull from the corner towards yourself, removing any pieces that pull up easily. Continue pulling and removing big chunks until the largest pieces of padding are removed.
If edges get stuck, use a putty knife along the room's perimeter. Be careful not to damage crown molding or walls.
Remove Leftover Glue
Use a scraping tool or putty knife to remove stuck portions of the padding.
If you plan to replace your carpet, use soap and water to soften any glue. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to help the mixture loosen the leftover residue; it'll make your life much easier. Then, remove the glue residue with a putty knife.
For stubborn sections, try using a mix of vinegar and water (2 cups of water to one-half cup of vinegar) or paint thinner and water to loosen the glue. Only pick one of these solutions; never mix them. If you want to avoid refinishing the floors, opt for an acrylic-based paint remover.
Remove All Nails and Staples
Start in the corner where you first pulled up the carpet. Diligently check for leftover nails, staples, or other sharp objects that could be stuck to the glue or perimeter of the room.
Use pliers, a screwdriver, or staple remover to gently pull the staples out of the floor. Throw the staples away and sweep up the loose padding.
Sweep or Vacuum Any Debris
Photo: bill oxford / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images
Once the room is safe, use a broom to sweep up big piles of debris, then vacuum. You can apply paint thinner to stuck glue bits on the floor, but put it specifically on problem spots and not all over the place. Throw away any pieces of the carpet padding or glue bits that come up as you clean.
At this point, you're free to go over your new wood floors with a wood-friendly cleaning solution or start the process of laying down new carpet padding for your new floors.
Removing Carpet Padding: DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
If you’re already hiring someone to refinish your floors or install new carpet, it might make sense to just allow them to remove the padding as well. But if you want to leave your floors natural or plan to do the rest of the work yourself, you can likely tackle this portion on your own.
If you want to DIY the removal of stuck carpet padding, you can get the job done with a few hours’ time and less than $20 in supplies. You can rent a floor sander for around $30 from most local hardware stores.
When you hire a local carpet removal specialist to remove carpet and carpet padding from the wall and floor, expect to pay between $1 and $1.50 per square foot. A 12-foot, fully-carpeted room is 144 square feet. You can expect to pay between $145 to $220 to hire a professional.
Why does padding stick to the floors?
There could be several reasons your carpet padding has adhered to the floor. Some of the most common reasons include:
Intentional gluing or stapling to surface
The polyurethane and floor bonded over years of wear
Pet urine, spills, or other substances leaked through the carpet and created a sticky surface
If the carpeting in the home hasn’t been changed in a long time, clearing off the padding underneath could be more difficult. Pet urine can wreak havoc on carpeting and the flooring underneath. If you plan to reinstall carpeting, remember to use proper cleaning techniques for removing pet urine odors to prevent future problems.