How to Pull Up Carpet & Polish a Concrete Floor

Pulling up a carpet from a concrete floor can be a messy process requiring the removal of hundreds of staples, a glued- down foam underlayment, and tack strips nailed directly into the concrete surface. However, once the carpet has been removed you can restore the floor, repairing the damage done by the carpet installation and polishing it to a brilliant shine that can last for years.

Friends rolling up an old carpet
credit: Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images

Removing the Carpet

Step 1

Cut the carpet into 3-foot-wide sections, using a utility knife.

Step 2

Pull back a corner of the carpet, using a pair of pliers. The carpet will be connected to the concrete surface via a series of wooden strips to which the carpet is tacked. Remove the 3-foot-wide carpet sections from the tack strips by shaking the carpet in a back-and-forth motion while pulling it up from the surface of the floor. Roll the carpet into easily manageable sections as you pull it up, revealing the carpet padding beneath.

Step 3

Remove the carpet padding by first removing the staples which hold it to the tack strips. Use the needle-nose pliers to remove the staples with a twisting motion.

Step 4

Remove the glued perimeter of the padding by using a mechanical floor scraper. Run the scraper across the floor's surface so that the vibrating blade can cut through the padding and glue.

Step 5

Remove the tack strip with a hammer and pry bar. Place the pry bar beneath the edge of the tack strip where a nail secures the strip to the concrete. Hit the heel of the pry bar with the hammer to raise the nail. Remove the nail with the pry bar, then pull up the tack strip.

Step 6

Sweep away the debris left from the carpet removal. Clean the concrete surface with a pH-balanced cleanser.

Polishing the Concrete

Step 7

Use a 32-grit diamond pad placed on a concrete polisher to level the surface of the concrete. Grind down high levels of the surface by moving the polisher over the concrete in small circles.

Step 8

Sweep up the concrete dust. Mix it with a small amount of thin-set mortar to give the mortar the same color as the concrete floor. Apply the mortar with a putty knife to fill in the chips left in the surface of the concrete when you removed the tack strips. Allow the mortar to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 9

Run the polisher over the surface of the concrete to level the mortar. This will leave a thin layer of concrete dust. Spray a layer of acrylic tile adhesive onto the concrete surface. The adhesive will combine with the concrete dust, filling the air holes created when leveling the concrete and creating a smooth surface.

Step 10

Change the polishing pad to a 60-grit pad and run over the floor surface again to remove large imperfections. Spray on a layer of reactive concrete hardener. The harder surface will take a better shine when polished. Change the polishing pad to a 120-grit pad. Run the polisher over the surface of the floor once more to produce a dull shine.

Step 11

Change to a 50-grit diamond resin-based pad and run over the surface of the floor completely. Change pads after each complete pass to increase the level of polish. Each successive resin pad should be of a finer grit until you reach 3,000 grit. Spray a layer of polishing compound onto the floor. Complete a final pass over the concrete using the 3,000-grit pad. Use a paint roller to add a layer of epoxy coating to protect the polished surface.