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.
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.
1.1 Remove baseboards and doors to make installation easier.
1.2 Inspect the subfloor and make any necessary repairs.
1.3 Remove traces of old glue with adhesive remover or a sharp scraper.
1.4 Sweep and/or vacuum the area thoroughly.
2.1 Cut the tack strips to fit around the perimeter of the room, i.e. walls, closets and permanent fixtures.
Also cut strips for the openings.
2.2 Nail the strips to the floor with the tack points facing the wall.
Leave a space of about the thickness of the carpet between the walls and the strips.
3.1 Unroll the padding and lay it out on the floor inside the tack strips.
3.2 Trim to size with a utility knife. The padding must not cover the tack strip.
3.3 Seal the seams with adhesive tape.
3.4 Staple the padding to the floor at 12" intervals.
4.1 Roll out the carpet so the whole area is covered.
The pile should all be facing in one direction, from the window towards the inside of the room.
4.2 Arrange pieces of carpet so that the seams will be in inconspicuous or low-traffic areas and are perpendicular to the window or main source of light.
4.3 Trim the carpet roughly to size, leaving about 3" of excess on all sides.
4.4 Slot the carpet at the corners so that it can be laid flat.
Before cutting the carpet, trace the cutting line with a pencil to separate the pile. This way, only the back of the carpet will be cut.
5.1 Affix a length of seaming tape to the floor, centered under the two carpet sections to be joined.
5.2 Place both sections of carpet over the tape.
5.3 Use a seaming iron to melt the adhesive by slowly pulling the iron down the tape.
5.4 As the adhesive melts, press the carpet edges together onto the tape.
6.1 Pull the carpet so that it completely covers the tack strip along one of the walls in the room.
6.2 Starting in one corner, use a knee kicker to push and hook the carpet onto the tack strip.
6.3 Press and anchor the carpet onto the tack strip using the flat side of a hammer.
6.4 Repeat along the adjacent wall.
7.1 Fasten the carpet in the opposite corner using a power stretcher.
7.2 Place the base of the power stretcher against the first wall and adjust so that its head is set 6" from the opposite wall.
7.3 Press the lever down and lock it into place, stretching the carpet over and onto the tack strip.
7.4 Press and anchor the carpet onto the tack strip using the hammer, as before.
7.5 Repeat for the remaining walls.
8.1 Trim the excess carpet with a utility knife.
8.2 Push the edges of the carpet down into the space between the tack strips and the wall.
8.3 Nail the baseboard moulding along the four walls.
8.4 Use appropriate transition moulding to bridge floor height differences between rooms.
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