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How to Lay Carpet

Posted by in Home: Home Improvement: Floors  ~  May 07, 2012 01:26:35 AM

Carpet installation isn’t ever easy or inexpensive, but nor is every homeowner at ease outsourcing the job and trusting it all gets done correctly. For the genuine DIY man, it pays to have a strong working knowledge of what it takes to install a new carpet. From the tools and materials to the actual sequence of steps, the entire process can be learned by any homeowner with a knack for manual skills.

Here is what every homeowner facing down a carpet installation job must know:

Tools and Materials Required

This instructional guide assumes that you have the following tools and materials necessary to complete the job:

  • Row running knife
  • Knee kicker
  • Hot melt seaming tape
  • Seaming iron
  • Masonry nails
  • Tackless strip
  • Carpet padding
  • Gripper edge

Most readers will have at least some of these materials around the house, and any that are lacking can be easily purchased at a local hardware store.

Preparing the Floor For Carpet

Before you can begin laying carpet you must prepare the floors to support it. Dirt, dust, and small debris can result in a messy looking and uncleanly job. Be sure to go over the surface with a broom or vacuum before beginning to ensure as clean a floor as possible.

For those with duct heating, you must locate where the ducts are under the floor to avoid nailing into them and ruining your heating system. The best way to determine this is to lightly wet the floor with the heat turned on. As the ducts heat up, they will dry the floor above them fastest. Use chalk to roughly mark where they are and be mindful of them when you begin to nail down your new carpet.

Install the Tackless Strip

Once the floor is cleaned up and you’ve identified where your heating ducts are (if you have them), it is time to lay down the tackless strip. Cut the strip so that it is long enough to run along each wall in the room. Once you have the lengths right, nail these strips down about an eighth of an inch from each wall using the masonry nails.

Remember: when you are nailing the tackless strip down, the spikes should be facing the wall, not the center of the room. Also remember to avoid installing the tackless strip on either side of a doorway.

Lay the Carpet Padding

Now that the tackless strip is in place, you cannot just lay the carpet down on the bare floor. First, you must lay down the carpet padding to provide a barrier between carpet and wood. Start at the tackless strip and lay the padding down to the opposite side of the room, stapling it into the floor about every 6 inches.

Where necessary, cut the padding to ensure a clean fit. Do not overlap the padding, but lay it side by side and duct tape the seams together.

Cutting the Carpet To Fit the Room

Before you can cut your carpet to fit the room, you need to determine what type of carpet you are installing. There are two main kinds:

  • Pile cut carpet
  • Loop pile carpet

If you are installing pile cut carpet, always cut from the back of the material to ensure the cleanest cut. If instead you are using loop pile carpet, it will be easier to cut from the top of the material with your utility knife. Cut the carpet to fit the room, and leave about 5 inches extra around the walls just to be safe.

Creating the Seams For Your Carpet

As DIY website reminds us, carpet seams are a necessary evil of installing carpet. Noticeable seams can make the job look sloppy, but there are ways to make them less noticeable. First. overlap your seams by about two inches. You can measure this length and mark it off with chalk for easy cutting.

Next, grab your seaming tape and cut it to the length of the seam. Place the tape sticky side up on the floor where the seam will be. Next, heat up your seaming iron and run it over the tape until it is hot, then press the ends of the carpet into it and apply pressure to secure them in place.

Using a Knee Kicker

The knee kicker is a tool used to attach the carpet to the tackless strip you laid down against the wall. To begin, push the teeth of the knee kicker into the carpet about an inch away from the wall and begin hitting it with your knee to attach it to the tackless strip. Do this every several inches around the entire room to ensure a firm hold on the carpet.

For the area around the doors, you must install the gripper edge that came with your carpet. Follow the directions for your specific model to ensure the carpet doesn’t come up when the door is opened.