How to Install Carpet

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How to Install Carpet

New carpeting brings a fresh look and feel to a room, but with a cost. However, laying it yourself is not difficult for the do-it-yourselfers, and that helps to decrease the overall cost. Choosing the type of carpeting in terms of colour, pile, and pattern proves to be the most difficult part of installing a carpet. However, once the carpet and padding is chosen, the next step is choosing and purchasing the tools and supplies needed to install said carpet. Reviewing tutorials online or reading how-to books is one way of learning what to do, however an ancillary guide helps you learn what you are in for before you pick up your first hammer.

Installing a carpet yourself means you install it on your schedule, and in the manner in which prefer to install it. If you want the pattern of the carpet to be skewed, you can do that just the way you like. Further, if you want to have control over where the carpet begins or ends in a room or hallway, you have full control over that as well.

Tools and Supplies

Besides carpet and padding, laying carpet requires a few specialised tools and supplies. However, not all are required for every situation. The following table explains which tool to use and when to use it.

Carpet Installation Tool

Description

When to Use

Knee Kicker

One end of the knee kicker has a pad to protect the knee

The other end has a platform with claw-like grabbers which protrude from its underside.

Every carpet installation requires a knee kicker to stretch the carpet over the tackless strips

Wall Trimmer

A specially designed cutting tool which has guides and a cutting blade near each point

Made of metal and is trapezoidal shaped

Used to trim the carpet away from the wall

Note: A utility knife can be substituted, but it is much more difficult to use for this purpose

Stair Chisel

Generally made of metal, but sometimes plastic

A solid piece of metal

Shaped like a 7.6-cm wide putty knife, but thicker and stronger

Used to fit the carpet over the tackless strips and under the baseboard

Ensures that the spikes on the tackless strips grab the carpet securely

Power Stretcher

Similar to the knee kicker

Has long bars to stretch across the room and a hand-operated lever

Only needed for large rooms to stretch the carpet over a greater distance

Strip Cutter

A snip-like tool for cutting the tackless strips to size

The strips are not difficult to cut, and tools, such as metal snips or a saw, can be used

Seam Iron

A hot iron for heating the seam adhesive to secure the seams

Only use with heat-activated tape

Do not lay the iron directly on the carpet

Tackless Strips

Thin strips of wood which have tacks protruding from them with nails already driven into them

Required for every carpet laying job in order to secure the carpet around the edges of the room

Tacks grab the carpet when it is placed over the top

Seam Sealer

Specially formulated sealant which seals seams to ensure that they do not unravel with time

Use along the edge of the the carpet before seams are bonded

Along with these tools and supplies, a few other common tools you should have on hand include knee pads, a tape measure, a utility knife, a straight edge, a hammer, and a stapler. Be sure to have all of the tools and supplies you need so as to prevent multiple trips to the hardware store. If you happen to live in a rural area or you are without a car, the lack of appropriate tools proves to be a hassle.

Preparation

If carpet has previously been installed in the room, there is no need to remove the tackless strips already in place around the perimeter. Also, do not remove the baseboard from the wall, as the carpet goes over the tackless strips and is to be tucked under the baseboard.

Be sure the area is clean and cleared of any loose debris. When the carpet is laid, any small pebbles or unevenness in the flooring is noticeable. Fill any dips in the flooring with filler putty, and hammer down any nails which have raised.

Sweep and consider mopping up loose debris and dirt. A cement floor may have soaked up spills which remain and might produce odours if not cleaned before the carpet is laid. If the floor is new or clean, a good sweeping is enough. For an additional cleaning option, take a hair dryer to the cement floor to elevate liquids which are soaked in. Using an absorbent cloth, you can lift up the stains and then pour bleach over it to ensure the odours dissipate.

Measure the Room

Using a tape measure, record the exact dimensions of the room. Be sure to include closets, doorways, and any other areas where the space becomes larger or smaller. Mapping the dimensions onto graph paper makes this task easier.

Installing the Tackless Strips

Start in a corner of one wall and lay the tackless strips between 0.64 centimetres or one-quarter inch and 1.27 centimetres or one-half inch away from the wall, following the baseboard. If tackless strips are already in place from the last carpet, leave them where they are unless you plan on changing the perimeter of the carpet.

If the carpet is thick, place the tackless strips up to one centimetre away from the wall. If the carpet is thinner, move it closer to the wall. Be sure that the tacks are angled toward the wall so they catch the carpet as it is laid over them.

Tackless strips already have nails at appropriate intervals, so they are as simple to install. Lay them down and hammer the strips into the sub-floor. Be sure to choose the right nails for the type of floor the nails are to be hammered into, whether it is wood or cement. Keep following the wall until the strips surround the perimeter, but do not place them across any doorways or other walkways.

When needed, tackless strips are cut with snips or a special strip cutter. The tacks are sharp, so take care when cutting. 

Installing the Carpet Padding

After the tackless strips are in place along the perimeter, it is time to lay the carpet padding. It is often easier to first cut the padding to size in a larger area, like outside or in a larger room, if possible. Using a straight edge and utility knife, cut the padding according to the measurements of the room taken earlier. If more than one piece of padding is required, cut all the pieces before laying them, but do not tape the pieces together until they are laid in the room. 

Once cut, lay the carpet in the room. If you choose to glue the padding in place, carefully follow the instructions provided with the glue. With the seams butted together, permanently secure them with tape. If not glueing, then staple the padding securely to the floor, but do not use staples to join the seams.

Once the padding is in place, use a utility knife to cut it straight along the inside of the tackless strips. If the blade is sharp enough, it easily cuts the padding away to reveal the tacks. A straight edge helps to guide, but it is not necessary. The tackless strips generally provide enough of a guide.

Laying the Carpet

As with the padding, it is easiest to precut the carpet in a larger area. If there is an image, pile pattern, or a noticeable way which the pile lays, it is important to match these at the seam when cutting. Run your hand over the carpet pile in different directions to see if a mark is left in the carpet because of the direction the pile lays. If it does leave a mark, be sure to match the direction of the carpet pile at the seams to ensure a consistent look.

Cut the carpet a few centimetres larger than the room dimensions on each side, and do not connect the seams. Roll the cut carpet up to bring it into the room, and unroll it along one wall with a couple of extra centimetres, so that it gets cut to size precisely. Lay out all the carpet pieces, and make sure that seams match perfectly.

Bonding the Seams

Align the seams so that pile and patterns match, and place seaming tape centred underneath the entire seam. For sticky back seam tape, simply remove the backing by pulling it from between the edges of the carpet and apply pressure along the seam.

If using heat activated seaming tape, which provides a stronger and more durable bond, place it centred under the seam. Heat the seaming iron according to the instructions and place it under the carpet pieces on top of the tape for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, move it along to the next section and use a scrap of wood to apply pressure to the heated section.

The seaming iron is very hot. Take care to avoid the heated parts of it, and make sure to keep its tray near to rest it on when needed. It can cause injury and burn the new carpet. 

Stretching the Carpet into Place

With the seams attached, start in a corner of the room, and cut the corner of the carpet to approximately where it is to lay along the wall, letting it fall as close to the inside of the corner as possible. Lay the knee kicker on the carpet with the clawed end toward the wall and the claws pointing down. Make sure to have knee pads on, and 'kick' the padded end of the knee kicker with your knee toward the wall. The objective is to stretch the carpet over the tackless strips until the spikes in the strips grab the back of the carpet. Run the stair chisel across the carpet and over the tackless strips to make sure the carpet is hooked well.

Continue stretching the carpet all the way along the first wall, angling away from the first corner once it is secure. When the first wall is securely hooked onto the tackless strips, slice into the excess carpet along the wall at an angle to get the wall trimmer in place. Once the wall trimmer is between the carpet and the wall, slide it continuously along the wall, rimming the carpet to size. A utility knife does the same job, but it is much more clumsy and time consuming with results which are not quite as sleek.

With the carpet trimmed to size, use the stair chisel to work the carpet against the wall which is on the other side of the tackless strips and under the baseboard. Go back to the corner that you started with, and repeat the process for the other wall and then on along the rest of the room.

Some large rooms require a power stretcher to ensure that the carpet is completely stretched across the room. To use the power stretcher, assemble the bars which are included with the tool, adding enough so that the pole reaches across the room. As with the knee kicker, use the power stretcher to stretch the carpet flat and securely into place over the tackless strips. With the claws grabbing onto the carpet, push the power stretcher's lever arm down until carpet is stretched and in place. Repeat this, working your way around the room.

Once all the carpet is stretched, it is time to vacuum and move the furniture back in. If there are any long bits of pile which have come undone from the carpet, cut them to the appropriate pile length with a pair of scissors.

Finding Carpet Installation Supplies

Purchase carpet and the tools for laying carpet at home improvement stores and carpet dealers. Many of the tools and supplies are easy to find at hardware stores and through online auction sites, including eBay.

The sellers on eBay provide quite a selection of home improvement tools and supplies, which are found through simple searches or category links. A broader search through all categories often brings up more listings, and the advice on the eBay's search tips page is helpful with learning how to locate specific items.

How to Buy Carpet Installation Supplies on eBay

Once you locate the item or items on the eBay auction site, be sure to read the listing or listings closely to be clear about what is included and to ascertain the condition of the item or items. If you have any questions which are not answered in the listing, ask the seller by clicking on the seller's username found somewhere inside the listing.

Remember to always calculate shipping costs into the budget for the final cost of the items. Once you locate all the items you need for your carpet installation project, buy with confidence knowing that you have searched intelligently and are knowledgeable about what you are doing in your carpet installation project.

Always pay with secure payment methods like PayPal, and never decide to use cash or wire transfer services if they are offered. These methods are not eBay-approved and they are not safe for your or for eBay. 

Conclusion

New carpeting itself freshens a home and uplifts spirits. Installing it yourself not only saves money, but gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. It is a large job, but one which is well within the capabilities of most homeowners willing to tackle a do-it-yourself project. With the right equipment and instructions, installing new carpet is sometimes just a weekend job or something you do after work.

Depending on the size of the room you may need a second set of hands and more tools, but no room is too large for you to tackle, so long as you know how to approach this do-it-yourself project. Obtaining the right tools ahead of time, and being confident in your ability to follow product-specific instructions saves you a good amount of quid in the long run. Lastly, by installing carpet within one room you are now better equipped to do it in another room in your flat or home without the need to repurchase many of the same tools.

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