How to Remove Carpet Underpad

How to remove carpet underpadding that has been stuck to hardwood flooring.

We have been busy, busy this winter, starting new projects in our 130 year old house. At the same time we have been working on getting my late mother’s house ready for sale.

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Ripping Up Carpet and Many Layers

In our house, my husband has ripped up the carpet, and peeled up many layers of things underneath the carpet, before getting to the prize – the original pine hardwood underneath. I will post more about that soon!

130 year old hardwood floor under carpet and vinyl flooring
Under our carpet we found underpadding, then plywood, then vinyl floor, glue and finally 130 year old hardwood.

Isn’t An Existing Wooden Floor Environmentally Correct?

In contrast, my mother’s house has the original 1960s thin strip white oak hardwood flooring throughout. I love this floor, as I know it to be sturdy and scratch resistant. It’s in great condition, and would look updated with a darker stain. Our younger real estate agent implied that today’s young buyers would likely place laminate or engineered flooring over the top of the whole floor or rip everything up and replace it. I know I’m being sensitive, but aren’t younger people supposed to be more environmentally conscious? Is that “sustainable”, and “authentically green” – to use the buzzwords?


When I look at what is trending right now in flooring, after laminate and engineered, I see reclaimed flooring, then cork flooring and finally white oak. Now reclaimed and cork are supposed to be environmentally friendly, but wouldn’t it be friendlier not to replace a floor? And white oak? Did I say the floor was white oak?

Area Rug Underpad over Hardwood

Well enough of that rant for now! Today and for the last few days my husband and I were tasked with scraping up underpad from the dining room floor, which seemed to have glued itself to the floor over the last few decades. This was a job that I suggested to my spouse would take a few hours, but actually took us together about 12 hours to complete. I was wrong again, I admit it.

carpet underpadding stuck to hardwood floor
Underpad stuck to dining room hardwood floor

We started the project by testing a few scraping tools – my plastic putty tool, a grouting tool, and so on. There was a lot of frustration. Then we returned home and proceeded to watch several Youtube videos of how to remove carpet backing. There was a lot of thinking……..

The Thinker
The Thinker

Murphy’s Oil Soap

We returned for another day of frustration with more tools and some Murphy’s Oil Soap. We had different ideas of how to proceed in mind, and one of our greatest difficulties was deciding which of us was the supervisor (well not really, but it seemed like that).

Ice Scrapers

Eventually we settled on using plastic ice scrapers to remove the carpet backing. Being good Canadians, we had three of these in the back of our car – and it’s spring already! (It seems like every year I give ice scrapers as Christmas gifts to anyone with a car).

scraping car window
Every Canadian’s winter hobby

Then we spent several hours gently scraping the backing from the floor, sweeping up the particles and scraping again, being careful not to scratch the floor.

ice scrapers, hardwood floor and carpet underpad
Scrapers, hardwood and underpadding

Eventually we sponged hot water mixed with Murphy’s Oil Soap over the floor and let it soak in for a bit. We scrubbed the floors again with non-scratching kitchen sponges, and then did some more scraping.

we applied Murphy's oils soap to the flooring
We applied Murphys’ Oil Soap to dissolve the underpadding
scrubbing underpad from hardwood floor
More scrubbing

This was a long and tedious project that took all day, alternating the steps of scraping, sweeping, sponging and cleaning.

The final floor
The final floor 24 person hours later

We feel pretty darn proud of our work, and regardless of whether any future homeowners keep the floor, we left it in excellent condition. We are exhausted and ache all over and are very glad to say we don’t have to do that any more.

In summary, if you are ever faced with carpet backing completely stuck to a floor, you will need loads of patience, time, lots of hard work, sponges, hot water, Murphy’s Oil soap and plastic ice scrapers. It’s not like we could have paid someone to do this, they all wanted to use electric power tools to strip and refinish the floor.

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7 thoughts on “How to Remove Carpet Underpad

  1. Good job! Been there, done that. Many years ago, we (my cousin’s husband and I) ripped up the ugly red carpet in my 100-year-old house to find even uglier hard asbestos red tile glued (and I do mean GLUED) to the original floor — maple. Yep, it was a lot of work but looked wonderful once it was sanded. Even got a complement from an architect!

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