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Carpet Installation

Tips to Help You Preserve Your Sanity When Installing Your Own Carpet


Carpet installation is deceiving. On the face of it, it looks no more difficult than rolling out the carpet and tacking it down. But there is a good reason why professional carpet installers exist.

If you’re installing your own carpet, here are a few tips to help you preserve your sanity.

DIY Questions and Answers About Carpet Installation

  • Q: Do I need special carpet installation tools or can I get by with regular “shop” tools?
    A: Some tools will be regular “shop” tools: tape, hammer, tin-snips, scissors, snap-line, utility knife, and stapler. The other carpet-specific tools should be rented or borrowed, such as a seam iron, power stretcher, and knee kicker. It is far too expensive to purchase these carpet installation tools and use them only one time.

    By far, the most important tool you can use is called the carpet stretcher or power stretcher.

  • Q: Can I get by without a carpet stretcher? Is there any way to improvise?
    A: Yes, but your carpet installation will look terrible. Wrinkles and lumps will quickly form. If you are not prepared to take on a carpet stretcher, you may want to think about hiring carpet installers. Stretching is 90% of the job, and good carpet installers know how to do this.
  • Q: Can I seam together two pieces of carpeting in any direction?
    A: Obviously if your carpet has a pattern you cannot do this. But even for non-patterned carpeting, you can detect the direction of the carpet’s pile by looking at it from different directions in strong light. Keep carpet pile consistent from piece to piece.

    Tips for Effective DIY Carpet Installation…to Preserve Your Sanity!

    1. Tip: Don’t Put the Carpet Tack Strips All the Way Against the Wall
      The temptation is to shove the carpet tack strips (alternately called tackless strips) all the way against the wall or baseboard. Don’t do this. You will need the extra space in order to squeeze the carpet through. Guesstimate the gap this way: you want the thickness of the carpeting, but just a hair less. If it’s the exact thickness of the carpet, the carpet may pull out. But by making the gap a bit narrower than the thickness of the carpet, the carpet snugs in there nice and tight.
    2. Tip: For Patterned Carpet, Buy 5% Extra
      You will experience more waste materials with patterned carpet than with non-patterned carpet. This is because you need to cut away more waste material to make two pieces of patterned carpet mate together. The larger the pattern, too, the more waste you will have.
    3. Tip: No Padding on the Tackless Strips
      OK, this is not so much a “tip” as it is a hard-and-fast rule. You do not lay the padding over the tackless strips. Keep the padding within the perimeter formed by the strips. Padding should touch the edge of the tackless strips, but not overlap it. If the padding overlaps, then you’ll have a nice, fat lump around the edge of your carpet—not very attractive.

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