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Installation for Carpets & Rugs

Carpet is a popular flooring choice for any room in the home. The labor costs associated with carpet installation can often cost as much as the carpet itself. In order to save a bundle you can choose to install the carpet yourself. This guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions for installing carpet yourself, from the tools you’ll need to a finished product that you’ll be proud of.

Tools

  • hammer
  • flat-head and Phillips-head screwdrivers
  • plastic paddle
  • knee kicker
  • knee pads
  • tack strip cutter
  • power stretcher
  • tape measure

Any of these tools can be purchased or rented from a local tool rental supply. Most rental stores will provide the renter with a brief “how-to” when renting a tool or equipment that he or she is unfamiliar with. If you’re unsure how to use a particular piece of equipment it’s best to ask ahead of time.

Materials

  • carpet
  • padding
  • screws that will penetrate the subfloor
  • nails
  • tack strip
  • carpet glue
  • seam tape if needed
  • staple gun and staples appropriate for carpet padding installation

Installation Process

1. Measure the Space Prior to purchasing the carpet and padding, make sure you measure the length and width of the room at its widest and longest areas. Include a few inches to the length and width, so you are sure to have enough carpet. In addition, the extra inches are just enough to reach around doorways as needed. Carpet normally comes in 12 and 15-foot widths.

Rooms that are wider than 15 feet will need to have the carpet seamed. If a seam is needed it’s best to check with the manufacturer prior to installing yourself as some manufacturers require that seams are done by a professional carpet installer. If the room is small, you can save some additional money by purchasing a remnant.

2. Prepare the Subfloor Once you have purchased the necessary supplies and materials, it’s time to focus on the existing floor. If carpet is already down you will need to remove it, along with the existing padding. If the tack strips are in good shape, you can reuse them.

There’s no need to remove existing floors that are wood, linoleum or vinyl. Just carpet right over them. Squeaks are common in homes. Take a walk around the room and listen for any squeaks. Wherever there’s a squeak, simply drill a drywall screw through the subfloor and into the joists below.

3. Install Tack Strips If the room did not have carpet previously or if the tack strip was damaged, the next step is to install new tack strip. In order to properly install tack strips, you need to leave a gap between the baseboard or wall and the strip itself. It is recommended to leave at least a 3/8” gap.

Using a piece of scrap plywood will not only give this allowance, it will prevent damage to the wall from a misguided hammer strike. Floors that are concrete will need screws that are designed to penetrate the floor. It’s best to know which type of subfloor you are working with prior to making the initial trip to purchase supplies. Make sure each strip has at least two nails in it, and strips are cut around air vents and other obstacles that are fixed in the room.

4. Padding There are several types of carpet padding available. Padding provides the “fluff” that you feel when walking across a carpet without shoes. It’s important to choose carpet padding carefully. If the carpet is going in a room that is used daily, such as the living room, you may want to purchase a pad that is more durable. Padding that is thicker is also a good idea for rooms that have concrete floors, and in rooms where children are going to play.

Start in one corner of the room and roll out the padding to cover the full length of the room. Trim padding as close to the tack strip as possible. This will prevent a visible dip in the carpet once it has been installed. If the subfloor is not concrete, use a staple gun and staple the padding down every couple of feet throughout the room. If installing on a concrete floor, the padding can be glued down to the cement.

5. Install Carpet It’s time to “roll out the carpet.” Start at one edge of the longest part of the room and allow the carpet to unroll. It’s best to have some assistance when carrying and rolling out the carpet, in order to avoid injuring your back. Adjust the carpet so that it reaches each wall and into the spaces you want it to go. Once you have the carpet laid out in the space, it’s time to tack!

6. Tack It In order to keep your new carpet from buckling in the center of the room, it needs to be attached to the tack strips. When you’re using a power stretcher to ensure a tight fit that looks like a pro, you’ll need to take a few steps first. All areas that are open, such as doorways and closet entrances, will need to have a temporary strip installed to give strength when the power stretcher is working.

Use a small piece of carpet scrap, place it over the new carpet across the doorways and nail it down every couple of inches. Use nails with a wide head, and only hammer them halfway down. Remember, this is temporary! Use the power stretcher by choosing the proper head for the type of carpet you are installing. Next, allow the stretcher to expand across the width of the room and attaching the carpet to the tack strips when it cannot be stretched anymore.

7. Trim After the carpet has been stretched both the width and length of the room, it’s time to trim the excess. Place a carpet trimmer against the baseboard and run it along a few feet of carpet. As the trimmer has cut the excess carpet away, take a putty knife or plastic paddle and push the trimmed edge down under the baseboard. As you work around the room, remove the temporary carpet strips you nailed in before stretching the carpet.

8. Replace Molding Once all carpet has been trimmed and tucked, you can re-install the shoe molding and any other materials you had to remove.

9. Enjoy! Vacuum the mess that is left from trimming the carpet, and then it’s ready for years of enjoyment! Carpet can certainly enhance the look of a room. It’s a great choice for any room in the home, but can be very costly to have installed. With this guide, a free weekend and a little assistance, you can install the carpet in your home while saving yourself a bundle.