How to Rip up Carpet (and Clean Urine on Sub-floor)

What’s that smell? When I moved into my house, I immediately noticed the carpet had to be replaced – probably 700 or 800 sqft of it, the entire first floor. The carpet was old and smelled of urine, so there was no question that it had to go. I thought ripping up the carpet would also get rid of the urine smell – wrong. But I’ll get into that later. For now, I’ll show you how to rip up carpet.

For this job you should need goggles, a razor, and a mask. At virtually no cost, this is something you can easily do yourself, and quickly.

STEP 1: Ripping up the carpet

If you’ve never ripped up carpet before, it is much easier than it looks. You may want a mask and razor for this though. Your best bet is start in a corner and see if you can grip it enough to start pulling it up. If not, try another corner or give it a cut in order to get underneath it.

Once you’re underneath it, just start pulling it back and it should peel away from the tack strip. If the carpet is too big, you may have to cut it a few times to do it in smaller, more manageable, pieces.

The foam pad should come up with the carpet as well, but if not peel that up too. If the foam padding is held down with staples, just keep pulling it up and we’ll worry about the staples later.

You might even discover a beautiful hardwood or tile underneath it, which could just be touched up, cleaned, or stained to restore it.

STEP 2: Tack Strips and Staples

Once the carpet is up, you’ll need to go along the edges and pry up the tack strips. You could use a hammer or pry bar for this, and goggles of course.

As a tip, push the short end of the pry bar under the tack strip as best you can, then use the hammer to drive it further under the strip. You’ll have more leverage to pull down on the long end of the pry bar and the tack strip should come up.

After the tack strips are up, make sure there’s no nails or staples left behind that need to be pulled up. If there are a ton of staples, you’d be better off hammering them flush into floor. It’s much easier, and a lot less time consuming. Sweep the floor clean and that’s pretty much as complex as it gets on how to rip up carpet.

STEP 3: Removing Urine from Subfloor

As I mentioned earlier, I ran into a unique issue where animal urine from the previous home owners had soaked into the sub floor and smelled…bad! If you had this same problem, then read on. I felt like my eyes were melting out of my face from the ammonia burn. After a deep amount research, I decided I was going to go with the bleach method. The other option was to cover the smell with a paint called Kilz Odor Blocker. Kilz paint is a great option if the bleach does not completely remove the odor.

All I needed was some bleach and a firm brush. Soak the brush in a bucket of bleach, and then start scrubbing. The urine should bubble up wherever the bleach touches it, although it was pretty clear where the urine stains were.

Wipe up the bleach after it soaks for a minute, then repeat until the smell disappears. I had to do this 3 times until I couldn’t smell it anymore, but I will say, it’s completely gone now. I can’t smell anything and I’ve been here for over 2 years.

If you’re planning to lay down Pergo or other snap and click boards, I have a post coming soon on that, so check back. In the meantime, if you have any questions on how to rip up carpet, feel free to ask below.

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