Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Carpet Padding Moster, meet thy doom!

I believe I have perfected my technique for removing the hard-as-a-rock cemented down carpet padding that was left behind from the late 60s/early 70s.
The good thing here is that the padding has hopefully protected the wood for all these years. The bad thing is that if I want to keep the original finish of the wood (which is a beautiful honey gold color) I have to remove all this padding meticulously by hand using a razor blade.

A very nice man named Lee Bleeker was among the attendees at our Des Moines Rehabbers Club meeting on Saturday and he stuck around afterwards to give me some advice about my problem. Lee is an old-school carpeting expert, certified as a Master in his trade by an association of his peers. He was able to expand on what I’d already learned in my research. He told me that this padding was not stuck down with adhesive (thank God!) It’s made of rubber and clay and over the years it dried out and got tamped down by foot traffic and as it dried, the clay hardened and the rubber lost its flexibility and there you have it: about a half acre of crusty, crappy carpet padding gumming up my beautiful hardwood floors.

He said I was on the right track with using a razor and wetting the material to loosen it. But he also explained that the dryness was the real reason why the padding was so hard. If I could force moisture back into the padding without harming the wood surface underneath, I’d have an easier time removing it and less chance of harming the finish.

So here’s how I put his advice into practice:

First I sprayed my mixture of fabric softener and water onto the padding, enough to really soak it.


Then I put plastic grocery bags down on top of the area I sprayed and tamped them down with my feet.


I did an area the size of two grocery sacks.


I laid down a section of old carpet I’d been using as a knee pad on top of the grocery sacks.


I left the rug there overnight.


In the morning it almost nearly all came off!


Here’s a section of the hallway I did using the same technique:


With just a few little touch up spots left behind, this is by far the best technique I’ve found so far for removing this horrible stuff. Many thanks to Lee for his generosity in sharing his wisdom with this newbie.

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4 Responses to “Carpet Padding Moster, meet thy doom!”

  1. June 28th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    chris moore says:

    this sounds like a good idea. I’m having the same problem, was wondering about the ratio of fabric softner to water. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. June 28th, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Kelli says:

    Hi Chris,
    I use about a 1:1 mix, but you can probably also get good results with 2 parts water to 1 part fabric softener.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. July 16th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    outofmymind says:

    I swear I’m going crazy with that stuff. So here’s what I did. First off I sprayed resolve carpet cleaner on the stuff and that worked real fast getting off the fabric backing. Then I read somewhere to use vinegar and water. So-so results, so I thought if vinegar and water softens it, what would straight vinegar do? What it did was get the stuff soft, FAST !!. I then took a grill brush and took most of it up being careful not to actually hit the wood. The rest came up with a old washcloth and good old scrubbing. My results are wood floors in their original condition without having to sand,stain or varnish. It’s alot of elbow grease but what took most people weeks to do I did in one day.

  4. January 19th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    shallman says:

    This gives me hope. Thank you!

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