All You Need to Know About Carpet Installation: Tips, Advice, & More
Replacing or installing carpet can be a big job. There are tools to buy, carpet and padding to choose from, and lots of technicalities to remember. Sometimes carpet installation is better left to the pros, but many times it can be a fulfilling DIY project. Installing your own carpet can be a great way to save money. This is especially true for the seasoned DIYer who enjoys getting their hands dirty and the rewards of a job well done.
Tools of the Trade
One of the first steps of prepping for a carpet installation project is procuring the right tools for the job. You’re probably familiar with the basics—measuring tape, hammer, razor knife—but some of the other tools aren’t as commonly known.
- Power stretcher
- Knee kicker
- Tack strip cutter
- Hand stapler
- Wall trimmer and top cutter
- Adhesives made specifically for gluing carpets
- Chalk line
- Heavy duty work gloves
- Stair tool if you are working on stairs
Preparing Your Room
The next step in preparing for your carpet installation project is prepping the room where you’ll be working. Furniture needs to be removed, followed by the old carpet, padding and tack strips. It’s important to remove all debris or you’ll end up with lumps or wrinkles in your carpet.
Once the larger debris is removed, a quick sweep of the room should be sufficient for removing the remaining trash. If there is any sheetrock mud or other hard substances stuck to the subfloor, it’s a good idea to scrape that up and sweep it away. After cleaning your flooring, remove all the doors in the room and store them in another location out of the way. This will save time and the hassle of working around them.
One last step in prepping your room to prepare for the carpet install is laying down the tack strips. These come in different sizes, so make sure you have the best size on hand for the type of carpet you’re installing. Use your tack strip cutter to size your tack strips, then either nail, tack, or glue them into place. Place them about a half inch from the wall around the perimeter of the room, avoiding thresholds and doorways. With the tack strips in place, you’re ready for padding and carpet installation.
Installing Your Padding and Carpet
With tools at the ready and your room prepped, it’s time to lay out the carpet padding. There’s a common belief that a quality carpet pad is even more important than quality carpet. A thickly cushioned carpet pad can preserve the life of your carpet by absorbing the daily weight placed on the carpet. Some types of carpet pads today are even waterproof. This keeps spills from seeping into the pad, allowing them to be cleaned up thoroughly rather than running through the carpet and padding and down to the subfloor.
When you’ve chosen your padding and are ready to install it, lay it out in the opposite direction in which you plan to install your carpet. Lay it inside your tack strip boundary, using a razor knife to cut away the excess.
When all the padding is laid, use a hand stapler or a staple gun to secure it in place. Staple the seams of the carpet padding, as well. You’re going for a tight fit so don’t be afraid to stretch it. This will help you avoid gaps in the padding. Now is a good time to call in reinforcements. You’ll need the extra hands to move the carpet and stretch it across the room.
Using the longest measurement in your room, add three feet and mark your carpet to length. A chalk line is a great tool to use for this. It will give you a clear, straight line to cut along. Depending on the width of your room, you may need multiple runs of carpet.
Once you have your carpet measured, lay it out in your room and use a razor knife to cut it at the correct length. Leave a few inches on either end to be sure you have enough. You can cut this away later. Remember to lay your carpet out in the opposite direction in which you laid your padding.
You will most likely have carpet seams between your runs. This part is easy due to the advances in adhesives and glues. There are a variety of hot melt adhesives you can choose from that hold seams together securely.
Seams, Knee Knickers and Binding Bars
Use your glue of choice to keep your seams together. One popular brand, Surebonder 708, works best because it resists cracking. Make sure your seams are in line with the lights in the room. Also, make sure your runs of carpet lean in the same direction, so the carpet threads between runs don’t contradict each other.
Next, trim around doorways and other obstacles in the room. Once this is done, it’s time to pull out your knee kicker. This will help you attach the carpet along your first wall. Using your knee, you’ll give heavy thrusts to secure the carpet to the tack strips you placed earlier.
For the remaining walls, alternate between trimming and attaching carpet. You will use the power stretcher for the remaining walls, except corners or hard-to-reach spots. For those, you’ll return to the knee kicker. Once all your walls are covered, you’re almost done. To finish your thresholds, use a binder bar. The binder bar will hold the carpet tightly across the threshold.
When all your carpet is secured in place, you’ll trim off any excess length. Don’t forget to cut out openings for your AC and heating vents. You may also want to finish up the job with shoe molding or another decorative trim around the perimeter of the room. This can give your room a professional and stylish look. When all is said and done, you can look over your work and feel proud of a job well done.
- Casey Heigl is MyBeautifulFloor’s first guest column. Casey is the Marketing Manager for Hotmelt.com, one of the companies that makes up Heigl Technologies. She has extensive knowledge of hot melt applications, vendors, industry trends and how they are used across various verticals. Casey enjoys sharing her unique perspective through her blog writing.