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Install carpet

  • Difficulty: hammer hammer
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert
  • Completion Time : Project Week-End

Many people still choose carpet over other flooring options for the warmth and comfort it adds to a room. Carpet also absorbs sound and hides imperfections in the subfloor. It is especially well suited to living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms.

This project provides step-by-step instructions on how to install wall-to-wall carpeting with underlay using tack strips. Though this is a fairly straightforward process, it does call for a certain amount of strength and dexterity, which a professional carpet fitter will be able to provide.


Tools and materials required


  • Stapler
  • Knee kicker
  • Utility knife
  • Seaming iron
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Back saw
  • Carpet power stretcher



  • Staples
  • Tack strips
  • Nails
  • Pencil
  • Baseboards
  • Double-sided seaming tape
  • Underlay (padding)
  • Carpet

Before Assembly


Draw a floor plan on graph paper (one square = 1 sq. ft.). Write down the length of each wall, taking any storage areas into account.

Measure in several places. Bear in mind that walls might not be entirely parallel along their whole length.

Add an extra 3" to the widths and lengths you noted to give you some leeway during the installation.

Calculate the surface area to determine the amount of carpet and padding needed.

Calculate the perimeter to determine the total length of tack strip needed.


Though installing wall-to-wall carpeting is not a particularly complex task, many people have the job done professionally due to the weight of the carpet. Carpet usually comes in rolls 12' wide, which can make it tricky to manoeuvre in tight spaces. The installation procedure is more complicated if more than one roll is required in the same room. Nevertheless, an experienced do-it-yourselfer should be able to achieve very satisfactory results.

Carpet can be fastened to the floor by either gluing it down or using tack strips. If using adhesive, check for low VOC (volatile organic compound) content. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Air the room well when you work, to allow the adhesive fumes to escape. If using tack strips (also called tackless strips), do not reuse existing strips if they are rusty or splattered with paint.

Loop pile carpet should preferably be glued down, whereas cut pile carpet should be attached using tack strips nailed around the edges of the room.

It is almost always necessary to use underlay, or padding, except for installation in a basement, where commercial-type carpeting can be glued directly to the concrete floor.


All carpet is constructed so that the pile (or nap) will lay slightly in one direction. It is important to always place carpet pieces so that the pile faces in the same direction, to avoid shading. The pile should typically face towards the room entrance; this enhances the texture and colour of the carpet. For stairs, the pile direction runs down the stairs.


Do not install new carpet over existing carpet, i.e. do not be tempted to use old carpet as padding for the new one; this may cause the new carpet to ripple or buckle.

Installation over concrete
Before installing carpet on a concrete floor, check that the floor is dry and that the cement is not crumbling, or it will dissolve on contact with the adhesive. Fill all cracks. Use an adhesive recommended for use over concrete. There are tack strips designed specifically for concrete floors, but these can be difficult to install and it may be better to leave the task to a professional.

Installation over wood or plywood
When installing carpet over an existing wood floor, make sure that the floor planks are strong and sturdy or that the plywood boards are solidly screwed down and have flat, even joints. Use ring-shank nails to fasten tack strips to a plywood subfloor.


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