Fitted carpet is carpet that fits permanently in place, usually covering the entire floor of a room right to the walls. It is often used in homes, especially in bedrooms, to generate a warm and comfortable environment. Some carpets have an integral underlay made of rubber or foam and others do not. The latter will require a separate underlay. They are fitted in slightly different ways. Carpet has an upper layer known as the pile and a backing layer, and these are attached in two basic ways to produce carpets known as tufted and woven. The pile is the section we see and is made of various materials, including wool, polyester, polypropylene, nylon, and acrylic. The type of pile is often divided into short pile and long pile. Once the carpet, is chosen it will need to be fitted. Because it is a precise process and the cost of replacing carpet due to bad cutting can actually be more than the cost of employing a carpet fitter, professional fitters are often employed for fitting carpets for important rooms and/or expensive carpets.
Laying Fitted Carpet
Learning to fit carpet is a monumental task, but it can be learned and mastered by following these steps.
It is a good idea to order slightly more carpet than required. Allowing an extra 10 cm to 15 cm in each direction will give some leeway when cutting. The right tools will be needed for laying fitted carpet. These should be assembled in advance and may include a craft knife, hacksaw, carpet stretcher, carpet bolster, staple gun, claw hammer or carpet fitter’s hammer, gripper rods, threshold strip(s), straight edge, carpet seaming iron, and tape measure, as well as screws, nails, tacks, adhesive, and/or double sided tape. Practicing on off-cuts or old carpets is a good way to develop a confident cutting technique before fitting the real thing. Clean the floor by sweeping or vacuuming. Remove any debris and either remove or hammer in protruding nails. The floor should also be dry. Removing doors will also make laying carpet much easier.
Laying Fitted Carpet with a Separate Underlay
As mentioned, carpets with separate underlay need to be laid slightly differently to those with inbuilt underlay.
Fitting Gripper Rods and Threshold Strips
Gripper rods are thin wooden rods with teeth that hold down carpet and protect the edges. They are usually 1.5 m long. They need to be nailed around the edge of the room. To avoid damaging them they should ideally be nailed with a carpet fitter’s hammer or otherwise with a claw hammer. Masonry nails or adhesive can be used for concrete floors. Gripper rods should be fixed with the teeth pointing the wall. A gap should be left between the rods and the skirting board that is slightly less than the carpet thickness. This will be where the carpet fits in. Do not fit gripper rods in the doorway. Where there are radiator pipes, fit the rods as close as possible to the wall. They can be cut to size using a hacksaw for fitting into and around corners, bay windows and similar awkwardly shaped areas. Next fit the threshold strip(s). Threshold strips are metal strips that are placed in doorways to hold carpet down and protect the edge of the carpet. They can be cut to size and are nailed, screwed or glued to the floor.
The underlay should ideally be placed at right angles to the floor boards. Unroll the underlay, starting from a corner, placing it so the top and side edges are just overlapping the gripper rods. Make sure it is smooth and flat. Both rubber and foam underlay should be placed face down so the backing meets up with the carpet. Fix the underlay to the floor, just inside the gripper rods, by stapling with a staple gun, using tacks or, for concrete floors, double sided tape. Unroll the underlay along the room, keeping the edges firmly pressed against the gripper rods. Always make sure it is laid out smoothly. Fix it to the floor along the edges as before. The underlay strips should be placed tightly against each other but shouldn’t overlap. Radiator pipes can be worked round - always place the underlay to the gripper rod. Lastly trim the excess underlay tightly along the inside edge of the gripper rod with a craft knife. Underlay tape can be used on the seams to seal them, prevent them showing and stop the underlay moving when laying carpet.
Measure the room and add 10 cm to the longest dimension. Mark the carpet and cut through the back using a craft knife and straight edge. Lay out the carpet with the edges overlapping the skirting board or walls by about 10 cm. Cut off any excess around large obstacles. Make sure the carpet is square, flat and pressed into the corners. In the corners, it can be useful to make a cut to get it to lie flat. Press the carpet tightly against the base of the skirting board and trim away the excess, holding the knife at 45 degrees from the wall and pressing the blade right to the base of the skirting. Attach the edge of the carpet to gripper rods in one corner. Then stretch it out along an adjacent wall with a carpet stretcher. The teeth on the carpet stretcher need to be placed into the carpet up against the corner and the padded end of the stretcher is then kicked to stretch the carpet. The depth of the teeth can be adjusted with the dial if required. Once the carpet is stretched along the wall, secure it on the gripper rods. Then carry out the same procedure from the original corner, working along the other wall. Return to the original corner and stretch the carpet across the room to the diagonal corner and secure it to the gripper rods. Stretch the carpet between the other diagonally facing corners. Trim the edges around the room leaving a 1 cm excess, and using a carpet bolster push this excess behind the gripper rod. It should fit neatly between the rods and skirting board. At the doorway secure it with a threshold strip. If two rolls of carpet are required, the seams need to be joined. Lay them out so that the pile is running in the same direction and, if possible, so that the seams are in a less noticeable position. They should overlap by 10 cm. Then cut through both pieces of carpet with a craft knife. Place seaming tape on the underlay at the seams and press on it with a carpet seaming iron. Lay the seams of the carpet together and press down securely.
Laying Fitted Carpet with an Integral Underlay
Carpets with integral underlays do not require gripper rods to be fitted along the walls. Instead, the floor should be covered with a paper underlay leaving a 5 cm gap at the walls. Starting in the corner, secure about 1 m paper underlay to the floor. This can be done either by stapling with a staple gun or with double sided tape. Unroll the rest of the paper, making sure it is smooth, and secure it to the floor. Trim the end, leaving a 5 cm gap. Repeat the process with further rolls of paper underlay, making sure the edges slightly overlap. Stick double sided tape around the room into the 5 cm gap. Lay the carpet and trim the excess, using the same method as previously outlined. Then remove the backing tape from the double sided tape and press the edges of the carpet onto it so it sticks securely. If more than one roll of carpet is required, use double sided tape to join the edges together.
Find Fitted Carpet on eBay
To find fitted carpet, underlay and carpet fitting tools on eBay, type “fitted carpet” into the search field and press Search. Under Home, Furniture & DIY to the left of the page select Rugs & Carpets. For fitted carpets and underlay, select Fitted Carpets & Underlay. The type of carpet or underlay can then be chosen. For carpet fitting tools, select Tools & Accessories. Tools can also be searched for directly in the search field from the eBay home page, simply by typing in relevant keywords such as “carpet stretcher” or “carpet seaming iron”.
There are two basic types of fitted carpet, those with an integral underlay and those needing a separate underlay. They are fitted in similar but slightly different ways. If unsure about laying a fitted carpet it may be best to hire a professional fitter. Otherwise follow the guidelines, making sure the right tools are used and the carpet is laid out square, flat and smooth and is fixed securely into place.