Removing Fastened Flooring

floors, flooringTwo popular flooring materials, hardwood and carpet, are fastened to subfloor with staples, nails, or tacks. In addition, some types of sheet vinyl are installed using tacks at the room’s edges, called perimeter bonding. Fortunately, removing the fasteners leaves a relatively smooth subfloor that requires little preparation for the new flooring. Unfortunately, removing fasteners can be time-consuming. 

Carpet are attached to the subfloor by stretching the fabric from wall to wall and pressing edges down on strips of wood that have fastener points sticking up, called tack strips or carpet strips. The pad below the carpet typically is installed over wood subflooring using staples or over concrete using adhesive.

The first step in removing carpeting is to find a corner and use pliers to grip the fabric and lift it. You can then look under the carpet to determine what it will take to remove the carpet, pad, and strips. Carpet strips come up easy by inserting a small pry bar underneath the strips near a nail or tack and lifting up.

Carpet pads typically are installed over wood using staples at the perimeter and at any seams in the pad. Carefully make sure you remove all staples. Carpet installed over concrete uses adhesive to attach the pad and often the carpet strips to the subfloor. Cushion-back carpet that includes both the carpet fabric and the cushion pad in one product is popular for basement installations.

In Detail

Tack strips are like cactus in that no matter where you grab them you can be punctured. Make sure you wear work (not rubber) gloves when removing tack strips. Either place them in a bucket or roll them up in remnant carpet for easier disposal.

What Can Go Wrong

Thinner flooring materials such as vinyl and some laminates will telegraph or transmit any imperfections in the subfloor, so make sure you get every staple, nail head, or other protrusion from the subfloor before installation. Then carefully sweep or vacuum the area to make sure it is clean of debris.

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