Well, it’s finally time. That dingy, worn-out carpet—the one that prompts cringy expectations of runs and pulls every time you get out the vacuum—has got to go. If you’re lucky, and your home was built before the 1980s, there’s potentially gorgeous hardwood flooring hiding under it. Even if you plan to replace the carpet or install a floating laminate floor, read on as a DIY carpet removal is fairly easy and can save you money if you plan to go with a new floor install.

Image via Curtis Adams, Pexels

Buried treasure?

The older your home is, the more likely the possibility of hidden hardwood under the carpeting. Due to how expensive repairing, restoring, or removing hardwood floors can be, previous homeowners may have opted to install carpeting—or even a floating laminate floor—over top.

Checking for hardwood floors

There are a few ways to check under carpet without causing undue distress or damage to the carpet installation in case you’re not quite ready to make the change.

Since the carpet is stretched across the room and held in place at the borders using tack strips (thin strips of wood with tacks sticking up from the underside, nailed to the floor), check in spots where the carpet is not tacked down. 

Two ideal places for this investigation are:

  • Around floor vents —This is the simplest place to check because you can lift the vent cover and likely see the flooring and subfloor layers, then all you need to do is pull up or peel back the carpet and padding to see what’s underneath;
  • In doorways — You can check here by carefully removing the transition strip from the floor to peel back the carpet and carpet padding to get a look at the flooring material underneath.
Image via jan_photo, Pixabay

Is the hardwood salvageable?

Discovering a hidden hardwood gem under your carpet is one thing, but the thousand dollar question is whether or not it’s suitable for restoration. Even if the hardwood looks decent where you initially check, this may not be the case for portions where excessive wear, chips, splits, or deep stains are present. Stains are an inevitable discovery after removing all the carpet since it’s difficult to prevent liquids from seeping through carpet and padding to the underfloor.

Preparing to rip up the carpet

Before you begin ripping, you’ll need to equip yourself. Make sure you have the following on hand:

  • safety goggles;
  • dust mask;
  • work gloves;
  • knee pads or a kneeling pad
  • floor scraper;
  • utility knife;
  • claw hammer or pry bar; 
  • broom and dust pan, or vacuum; and
  • twine.

Once your gear is assembled, you’re ready to roll—pun intended!

1. Relocate your furniture

You’ll want to remove all furniture from the room to make this job easier. If storage is an issue, consider temporary options like a storage container or a self-storage facility.

2. Detach the baseboards

Before removing the baseboards, you may need to run a utility knife along the top edge if the seam has been painted. If you plan to reuse your baseboards, delicately pry the boards free of the drywall from behind (not from above!) using your claw hammer or pry bar. Label the boards and mark their locations so you can replace them when finished.

Image via, Giphy

3. Rip and roll

It’s time to don your mask, goggles, gloves, and knee pads to get ripping! Pull the carpet up from the tack strips around the perimeter of the room. Depending on the size of the room, you might want to cut the carpet into strips before rolling it for ease of removal. Be sure to lift the material as you cut to avoid marking the floor underneath. Do this for both the carpet and the padding, then secure the rolls using twine.

Be prepared for some dust and dirt, and in rare cases, mould or rodent feces. In the case of mould or feces, stop immediately and call a professional for remediation.

4. Remove staples and tack strips

After you remove the carpet and padding, the floor will look like a wasteland of staples, bordered by some gnarly-looking tack strips. Use the floor scraper to loosen any staples, and the claw hammer or pry bar to carefully lift and remove the tack strips.

Pro Tip: If you encounter stubborn staples, a blade (slot) screwdriver makes for easy removal.

Image via La Miko, Pexels

5. Cleanup

Once all the staples have been lifted and the tack strips removed for disposal, give your floor a good pass with a broom or shop vac to collect any loose debris, staples, and dirt.

Now your floor should be clear and ready for the next steps, whether that’s renewing your newly reclaimed hardwood floor, or installing new flooring or carpet. Stay tuned for part two, as we’ll get into what’s involved with restoring hardwood floors.


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If you live in an older home—or even some modern builds—there’s a good chance popcorn ceilings are commanding the overhead views. If you’re getting tired of this feature and plan to remove it, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s find out what you need to know about removing popcorn ceilings from your home.

Image via Denis Agati, Unsplash

What is a popcorn ceiling?

Popcorn ceilings—also known as stucco, stipple or Artex—are marked by their bumpy texture, though they can be characterized by swirling designs, or peaks that look like the top of a meringue pie. The plaster-based material was originally called Artex, after the UK-based company that developed the textured finishing technique as a way to hide imperfections and seams in ceilings. The application also provided a minor sound-dampening effect.

Image via StockSnap, Pixabay

From 1945 until the 1980s, popcorn ceilings were a popular feature in the construction of most North American homes. Popularity peaked in the 1970s with a varying range of designs and textures gracing ceilings across the continent.

Asbestos fibers were originally incorporated into the plaster for added strength, while also acting as a fire retardant. Due to the severe health effects of air-born asbestos and the associated risks involved with building or renovating when it is present, it was eventually removed from production in the 1980s.

Testing for asbestos

Before attempting any kind of removal, make sure the material used for your popcorn ceiling is asbestos-free, especially if your home was built before 1986. While DIY asbestos test kits are available, they can sometimes be inaccurate. Although hiring a professional may cost more, it’s worth the extra peace of mind when this carcinogenic material is involved.

In the event asbestos is present, you’ll need to make a judgment call on moving forward with smoothing out your ceilings. It’s recommended to use an asbestos abatement professional to execute a safe removal. This may not be the ideal outcome for die-hard DIYers, but your household’s long-term health and safety–not to mention you and your family’s health and safety–always comes first.

Tools and supplies

You’ll want to pick up a few things at your local hardware store and be prepared for a messy undertaking. Here’s what you need:

  • dust mask or respirator;
  • safety goggles;
  • plastic sheeting (to cover furniture, floors, and walls);
  • painter’s masking tape;
  • popcorn ceiling scraper or floor scraper;
  • a wide, flexible putty/plaster knife;
  • spray bottle (a pump pressure sprayer is ideal);
  • garbage bags;
  • mud pan (to catch the wet plaster);
  • drywall sander;
  • drywall tape; and
  • a joint compound.

1. Test a small area first

Once you’re ready to dive into smoothing out your popcorn ceilings, start by testing out a small section. Mist a small inconspicuous area with water, allow the moisture to absorb for about 15 minutes, then use a flexible putty knife at a low angle to scrape the texture free. 

Pro tip: closets make the perfect test subjects as they will often have the same ceiling texture as the room they are in.

If the stipple comes off easily, then you’re looking at smooth sailing with this project. However, if you encounter a lot of resistance, or the water does not soak into the texture at all, this means it’s either been painted over or paint was mixed in with the material when it was applied—a serious wrench-in-gears situation.

What if there’s paint or asbestos?

If paint was mixed into the popcorn ceiling texture, if it’s been painted over, or if there’s asbestos present, it may just be simpler to cover over the ceiling with fresh drywall panels. This achieves your goal without disturbing any asbestos, dealing with the high costs of abatement, or heavily involved removal in the event of paint.

2. Cover everything

To save yourself a clean-up nightmare, remove large furniture pieces and cover the floor with plastic sheeting. Use painter’s tape and sheeting to line the walls, then cover all electrical outlets and light fixtures (remove any lights or chandeliers first).

Safety tip: Because you’re spraying water near electrical outlets and fixtures, it’s recommended to turn off the breakers for the room.

3. Spray, wait, scrape, repeat

Working in sections, use your spray bottle to moisten the stipple. As with your earlier test, wait 15 minutes and then use your scraper to remove the texture while holding the mud pan underneath to catch it. Repeat the process and as you near the edges and corners, switch to the smaller putty knife to avoid damaging your walls.

Pro tip: If you use a popcorn ceiling scraper, you can attach a bag to it to catch the material, negating the need for a mud pan.

Image via Ksenia Chernaya, Pexels

4. Sanding

Some rough patches or gouges are inevitable, and you can repair these easily with a drywall sander. If you wish to avoid excessive dust, aim for a sander that attaches to a vacuum or has a built-in vacuum assembly. Don’t forget to wear a dust mask or respirator!

Image via La Miko, Pexels

5. Touch-ups

If the underlying drywall tape gets damaged or if the seams become visible in the drywall, apply fresh drywall tape to affected areas and apply joint compound with your putty knife. If necessary, sand the areas smooth again.

Image via StuBaileyPhoto, Pixabay

At this point you’re ready to paint, clean up, replace the furniture and fixtures, and enjoy the smooth fruits of your labour. If you don’t mind getting a little dirty and incorporating some elbow grease into your efforts, this is a great project to handle on your own. Just don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals if needed, because safety always comes first.

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