How To remove carpet | A Step By Step Guide to Painted Cement Floors
Updated: Feb 3
My partner and I recently bought a new house and made sure to have enough saved in our budget to make renovations if necessary. We lucked out with the house, but there were three rooms with a big "nuh uh" for me - carpet. The first thing I googled was "how to remove carpet".
Pre-owned houses with used carpet freaks me out. Every day, we shed about 30,000 - 40,000 skin cells that end up in the carpet. It doesn't matter how fancy your vacuum is or how often you get your carpets cleaned. Dust and particles will build up in the carpet and house allergens (not to mention other creepies) can cause issues for people with allergies or asthma.
The goal was simple: we would just remove the carpet and paint the cement floors underneath! I have seen gorgeous photos of painted cement floors on Pinterest. How hard could it really be to remove carpet?
After some "how to remove carpet" and "how to paint concrete floors" research, I learned that it wasn't going to be THAT easy. First of all, there are a lot of steps in the process of and it would last a few days considering drying times. Plus, it wasn't just one room I was doing this to, it was three.
We got started and each step went over smoothly, but it did take several days to do all three rooms, and fair warning - removing carpet is exhausting. Overall, the results were WORTH IT and I'm so happy we did it!!
STEP BY STEP PROCESS OF HOW TO REMOVE CARPET AND PAINT CEMENT FLOORS
- eye goggles
- dust mask
- carpet cutter (a box cutter works)
- pry bar
- shop vacuum
- paint stripper
- large scraper
- hard bristle scrubber
- mop and bucket
- dish soap
- knee pads (optional, recommended)
- cement & mortar repair/filler (optional, step 7)
- putty knife (optional, step 7)
- electric sander (optional, step 7)
- paint primer
- paint brushes
- paint rollers
- paint trays
- cement paint
- epoxy sealant (optional, step 9)
- caulk (optional, step 10)
- caulking gun (optional, step 10)
- paint for trim (optional, step 10)
Step One: Remove the carpet and padding.
Remove the carpet by pulling up a corner from under the trim. Take a minute to consider what you want to do with your carpet. If it's fairly new, you might want to try to keep it all in one piece to donate somewhere. However, if the carpet is older, you may just want to dispose of it. You can use a carpet cutter or box cutter to cut the carpet into strips for easier removal. Once the carpet is up, remove the padding from the room.
Step Two: Get rid of the tack strips.
This step is the worst, so get yourself prepared with your favorite tunes, caffeine, and tools. You need gloves for your hands, a pry bar, a rubber mallet (you can use a hammer, but I highly recommend the mallet), and somewhere to pile up nails and wood pieces.
The tack strips are along the edges of the floor and nailed into the cement. Wedge the pry bar underneath the edge of the wooden strip and use the mallet to get it all the way under. Push down on the pry bar to lift the strip from the floor. You may have to use the indention of the pry bar to pull up the nails stuck in the floor if it does not all come up together.
This step will leave holes in the cement, which is unavoidable, and can be "fixed" in the next steps.
Step Three: Clean up and decide what to do with the trim.
At this point, you should decide what to do with the trim. If you are getting new trim, then remove the old trim before you clean up. If you are keeping your trim, you need to decide if you are going to leave it where it is or move it down later. Don't worry about moving it down now, but you will need to tape and cover the trim, unless you decide to repaint them afterwards.
We left the trim where it was, repainted the trim after it was all said and done, then added caulking underneath the trim to close the gap between trim and floor. Essentially, we opted for the simplest fix because we were not prepared or experienced enough to mess with the trim, and we didn't mind the look.
The floors will be a mess at this point and you will need to clean up before proceeding to the next step. Use a shop vacuum to get everything you can off of the floors. Sweep and make sure all the nails and pieces are picked up.
Step Five: Use paint stripper to prepare the cement.
Spread out the paint stripper for concrete and let it dry according to the instructions on the container. Be sure to coat a thick layer of this onto the floor if the floor already has paint on it or there are large oil stains (for example, if you're doing this in your garage). You'll know it is dry once you see the paint bubbled up and cracked.
After it dries, use a large scraper to scrape up all of the paint and gunk off of the cement. If everything is dry, you can use a shop vacuum to get all of the scrapings off of the floor. You can also sweep it up. Be sure that you get as much of this up off the cement as possible in this step.
Step Six: Meticulously clean up.
This step requires two people. Okay, you can do it by yourself if need be, but why make things harder on yourself? The floors now need to be mopped using water and a regular dish soap like dawn and scrubbed really well. Be meticulous. It helps to have one person mopping, and the other person scrubbing.
If any paint stripper is left on the floor, the paint will not adhere well, so mop and scrub and mop again until you are satisfied that all of the paint stripper is removed and the cement is clean. Let the floor dry completely.
Step Seven: Deal with the holes and cracks (optional step).
This is where you get to decide if you want a more rugged, experienced look or if you would like a clean, solid looking floors. Skip this step if you don't care that there are holes along the side and cracks in the floor.
If you are wanting a more solid and uniform looking floor, then use cement & mortar repair and a putty knife to fill the holes and cracks in the floor. Let the mortar repair completely dry before moving on.
Use a sander to sand down the dry mortar repair so that it is even with the floor. You can sand down or scrape up other bumps you find on the floors in this step too.
Unless you're getting your floors professionally done, expect your floors to have a few imperfections. It's fine! It just adds character to your home.
Sweep, vacuum, and mop up your floors again, so the floors are ready to be painted in the next step. You want to get every bit of dust particle you can. You can even go over the floor with a microfiber cloth right before painting to be sure.
Step Eight: Prime and paint your cement floors!
Here comes the excitement!! You want to prime your fresh and clean cement floors with paint primer and let it dry according to the directions on the container. Do not get impatient and start painting before your primer is done. If possible, leave the primer to dry for a full 24-48 hours.
Paint your floors with outdoor cement and patio paint. You can have the paint professional mix almost any color on the sample wall for cement floors, too! Let each coat dry according to the container before adding another coat. I recommend at least two coats, which is what we did. Each additional coat will add a layer that helps build up your floor so that smaller holes are filled and less noticeable. If you have enough paint, go for three coats.
Step Nine: Seal the floors (optional).
You can choose to add an epoxy sealer after painting your cement floors, if you wish. If the room you remodeled is high traffic (like a garage or living room), it is recommended that you do add the sealer. If the room is not high traffic (or if you plan to cover most of it with padded rugs), I would not worry about this step.
The rooms we painted are a bedroom and two offices, which we added rugs to, so we decided not to seal the floors.
Step Ten: Tend to the trim.
Now that your new cement floors have been painted and are dry, you can tend to the trim from step three. If you wanted to move your trim, now is the time! If you decided to leave the trim where it is and add caulking, then you should do so now! You don't want to leave open space between the floor and trim (even if it seems small to you) because bugs and creepy crawlies can fit through very teensy spaces! Please use caulk to seal that space.
Notes about materials and safety:
Use goggles and a mask throughout this project. Rusted nails and wooden shards will be flying around and some of this material (like the paint stripper) have powerful fumes that can make you light-headed, so open up a door or windows. As far as discarding waste, be sure to check with your city about the process for proper and appropriate disposal of household and/or hazardous waste.
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Whether you are removing carpet to remodel floors or just need to know how to paint your garage cement, I hope this process is helpful! Leave any questions below.