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Removing old carpet. how many staples do i have to pull.

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[OP]
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Jul 15, 2003
3437 posts
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Ontario, Canada

Removing old carpet. how many staples do i have to pull.

This is just a curiosity question now as the deed is already done. I just removed carpet from 2 floors of my house and stairwells. 2nd floor is having hardwood put in. other floor carpet. stairs carpet. I did all the removal. Someone else is doing all the installing.

Basic question is what would the installers have done with all the staples if i'd paid them to do removal too?
1. manually pry them all out which is time consuming?
2. hammer them all down leaving lumps of old foam/carpet and just throw new flooring over top?
3. something else?

So i have discovered that carpet install consists of an rolls underlay padding that is stapled down along all it's edges, and the nail/tack strips around the perimeter of the room. Pulling up carpet and underlay was easy. removing tack strips was ok with a pry bar. But every single staple from the underlay was left. and 80% of them had a piece of the foam stuck under it that had ripped off. I went through and manually pulled every one of those staples. The question is, did i have to? And does the answer change if it's carpet being put back into the room vs hardwood into the room? I could see potentially (although i don't believe it myself) that you wouldn't notice them under new underlay and carpet but i have to assume they must be removed if hardwood is being put in.

Also the stairs were worse. They use staples to actually hold the carpet down on each stair. Especially under the lip of each stair and into the vertical part between stairs. Pulling the carpet off was ok but pieces of carpet were left stuck under nearly all of those staples. To me it seemed like each one of those would have been a lump under the new carpet so i pulled them all. Is that the normal procedure or would it have been fine if they'd just stapled new carpet over it.

And my stairs hang out into the open on one side so the carpet wraps around the end of each stair. They must have used 20 staples on each of these small areas. They were so dense right at the corner that i doubt the new installer would have been able to drive more staples in if i hadn't pried them out.

Appreciate any opinions that people have.
Last edited by Kevinck on Sep 26th, 2018 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
19 replies
Member
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May 28, 2007
425 posts
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Peterborough
Not sure what methods you used but channel lock pliers makes the task pretty simple - but still requires time. Just grip staple and roll the pliers using the rounded head as leverage.
Sr. Member
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Sep 28, 2017
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i just did that exact same job.... we had original hardwood flooring under sh!tty carpet (who knew what the previous owners were thinking covering it) so i pulled up the carpet. i did it room by room each a day so that it wasn't such a daunting task. there was soooo many staples and i removed ALL of them myself.

once you get a rhythm going it seems to go quite fast. i pulled out the carpet and underlay for half the room.... bagged it all then took to task removing staples and nails. then moved the furniture to the finished side then tackled the other half. there was a lot of staples, almost overkill but i pulled it all. the stairs were shillacked with staples (i was told they put extra in and under the lip for safety reasons so the carpet doesn't pull free over time. the stairs took me the same time it did to do 2 full rooms because of the staples and tacks.

i'm sure depending on how much you have in your budget a contractor wouldn't have done it the same way and would have hammered then down if they were putting new flooring over top. for me they would have had to remove them all since i wasn't putting new flooring. i ended up having to lower my floor boards as there was almost a full inch gap. i refinished the wood and it looks way better than anything you can have done today. old hardwood in good condition is way better than the new stuff by a mile. the hard work ended with spectacular results !
no matter where you go, there you are.
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
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Edmonton
As the others have said... Take them all out. You definitely don't want to leave lumps of carpet/underlay attached to the staples to leave bumps, but even the staples themselves can back themselves out a bit if you just pound them in. At least, that was my experience in our old house reno.

C
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Mar 22, 2017
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West GTA
You don't want them in either case. You can feel them with the carpet unless you use a thick underpad, and it's bad for the hardwood as hardwood really needs a smooth and stable surface without metal bumps in it.

It's actually pretty easy to do with a typical office staple remover. You can take a staple out in about two seconds. You'll need the needle pliers to pull out ones that are in tight corners, or to pull out any bits of staple that get left behind by the office staple remover.

Seriously though, use the office staple remover. It's dozens of times faster and costs a couple of dollars for a good one.
Sr. Member
Dec 9, 2013
712 posts
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Toronto
I did the same as well. I have the narrow original hardwood flooring under the carpet and I tore it up and got a company to resand and refinish the original hardwood from the 1950's. I had around 11 steps on stairs going down into the basement and there must have been hundreds of staples/nails that took me days to remove them all. It was painfully boring.
[OP]
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Jul 15, 2003
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Ontario, Canada
Thanks for the opinions. now i don't feel so bad for all the time/effort i spent.

Wife is home with the installers right now and she says they actually commented on how clean and ready the areas were for their install. i guess they're used to clients saying they'll do all the removal work but then leaving it in a state where the installers have to do a bunch themselves first.
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Jan 6, 2002
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smitty9999 wrote: Get to work. Image
You mean:

Image
As someone long prepared for the occasion, in full command of every plan you wrecked---
Do not choose a coward's explanation, that hides behind the cause and the effect...
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Sep 26, 2013
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MONTR
I had to remove those many staples as well. Only manual labor will get them out pkus its tkme consuming.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
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Whatever you do, be careful to watch your wrists. I had helped a friend to remove old carpeting and we used a pair of pliers to pull up the old staples. Afterwards, my wrists hurt like a son of a b*tch for 2 weeks. Would never do that again, pliers are for plumbing...

Use a flat edge tool like that shown above.
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Deal Addict
Apr 6, 2008
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I hired a carpet install crew and they just banged them down. If you get chunks of the old underpad underneath the staple, just drag your foot with a shoe on over top the staple, the foam will come loose. Saved me a ton of time.
Deal Addict
Nov 9, 2008
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Toronto
Installers probably wont have just banged them down. When we bought our house it had nasty carpet overtop of the original 1/2'' birch strip flooring from the 1940s.

A bit different in my experience, but as we were planning to refinish them I wanted to pull every single stupid staple. Beer, music and plyers were used.
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2017
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London, On
We are in the midst of this ourselves. Replacing carpet in both kids' rooms with laminate. My wife had the idea she could use the carpet underlay for the laminate instead of ripping up the old and putting the new underlay down. Yeah, that worked about a third of the way across the room until she realized it was too thick and cushiony (as I said it would be lol). When we pulled up the underpad, we were lucky that at least half the staples came out with it, but there was still a crap ton to pull out. Fortunately the 2 teenagers were willing participants in this. We are thinking of doing hardwood in the living/dining room, and I'm less motivated to do that now lol
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Jun 26, 2009
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GTA
Frankie3s wrote: Whatever you do, be careful to watch your wrists. I had helped a friend to remove old carpeting and we used a pair of pliers to pull up the old staples. Afterwards, my wrists hurt like a son of a b*tch for 2 weeks. Would never do that again, pliers are for plumbing...

Use a flat edge tool like that shown above.
Oooh, poor Frankie
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Jul 4, 2004
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Tommy74 wrote: Oooh, poor Frankie
Ain't that the truth.
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Sr. Member
Jul 3, 2008
542 posts
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Toronto
I removed some nasty ancient carpet (at least 60 years old) from our house... pretty insane with the underlayment disintegrated into piles of yellow dust... used a set of small and large pryers to get nails out, but i actually found a strong pair of scissors can grab onto nails and staples at various angles much much better than the standard tools. The balls of your hands will hurt but strong quality scissors with some cushioning will help a lot. Good luck!
Sr. Member
Oct 3, 2011
589 posts
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OTTAWA
hands and knees, flat head screwdriver, systematic search grid. would've been nice to have a magnet to sweep afterwards too because I kept finding ones I pulled out when I got to installing hardwood.

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