One of the most daunting DIY flooring projects is installing carpet. Many people are intimidated by the thought of installing carpet, feeling that it is beyond their abilities. This is in large part due to the special tools required. However, installing carpet is actually a fairly easy DIY flooring project and by doing it yourself, you can save a great deal of money in installation costs.
Installing carpet does require some specialty tools. These include a knee stretcher, power stretcher, seam iron, seam roller, wall trimmer, and stair tool. However these tools can be rented from your local rental store. This is much more cost effective than purchasing the tools.
You will also need a carpet knife, hammer, tack strips (also referred to as tackless strips), staple gun or hammer stapler, and carpet seam tape.
It is very important to prepare the floor properly before installing carpet. Carpeting can be installed over cement, wood, or linoleum. However, if the flooring is damaged, it is best to remove or replace the damaged subfloor. Take this time to repair any squeaks in the floor due to loose boards.
The subfloor should be cleaned thoroughly before installing your carpet. You don’t want any dirt or debris underneath which can damage the padding and carpet. You should remove any floor registers and if you have doors which swing into the room, it is easier to remove the doors rather than try to work around them.
Installing the Padding
Before installing the padding, you will need to install tack strips along the edges of the walls and around floor register openings. Do not install the tack strips in front of door openings. These strips should be installed about 1/4″ from the wall with the tacks leaning towards the wall. Most tack strips will already have nails in them for nailing to the flooring. If you have a cement floor, you may need to glue the strips down using a masonry adhesive.
The next step is to roll out your padding, starting along one wall. Overlap the tack strips by approximately 3-4 inches, making sure the padding remains smooth and straight without bunching. Use a staple gun or hammer stapler to staple the padding to the carpet, placing a staple every 6 inches or so. If you have a cement floor or do not want to damage the underlying floor, you can use adhesive to installing the padding.
You can use duct tape along the seams to help keep them from bunching when you install the carpet. When you have completed the padding installation, use a utility or carpet knife to cut the padding along the tack strips, making sure that the padding does not overlap the strips. Cut out any floor register openings along the tack strips as well.
Roll the carpet out in the room, again starting along one wall and leaving 3-4 inches of overlap along the walls. Make sure to keep the carpet straight and be careful not to allow any of the padding to bunch up under the carpet. Cut out the floor register openings, also leaving a couple inches of overlap over the tack strips.
If you have more than one section of carpet, you will have to create a seam. Place seam tape beneath the seam with the adhesive side up. Heat your seam iron and then starting at on wall, place the iron directly onto the seam tape until the adhesive melts and press both edges of carpet onto the tape. Use a seam roller or other smooth heavy object to press the seam together and into the adhesive. Follow this process along the entire seam, doing a small section at a time.
Starting in one corner, use the knee stretcher to install the carpet to the tack strip. Place the head of the kicker a few inches from the wall and kick the pad sharply with your knee. Repeat this process every 6-8 inches along the wall. Once that is complete, we will use the power stretcher to install the carpet along the other walls. Place one end of the power stretcher along the wall you just completed and the head of the stretcher along the opposite wall, about 4-6 inches from the wall. When you push the lever down, the carpet is stretched over the tack strips. Repeat this along the entire wall as well as the remaining walls. Use the knee kicker to stretch the carpet over the tacks along any floor register openings.
When the carpet has been attached to all of the tack strips, use the wall trimmer to cut the excess carpeting along the wall. This will keep the edges straight and gives us a close cut. Using a stair tool or stiff putty knife, tuck the edges of the carpet underneath the baseboard along the wall.
Finally, install door edge strip in doorways to cover the carpet edge and make a transition into the next room. Replace your register covers and you are done!
As you can see, installing your own carpeting can be fairly easy if you have the right tools and instructions. So when you are getting ready for your next DIY flooring project, don’t shy away from carpeting due to installation costs. Install it yourself and save some money!