6 Steps to Install a Carpet

Carpet installation can seem like a very complex thing at first, but it can actually be a very simple process as long as you know what you are doing. Breaking down the entire installation process into six simple steps can help a lot, making it much easier to stay focused on getting the job done.

If you are prepared to lay down a carpet all by yourself – or even if you are just considering it – then these six steps can make the whole thing a lot more convenient. If you have a plan to follow, then you can get your carpet installed quickly, cheaply, and without any lingering issues to worry about.

Step 1 – Measurements

Measuring out the space that you are working with is incredibly important and should always be the first step when working with carpet installation. No matter the kind of carpet you want, it is important to get accurate measurements so that you can judge the amount of material you need.

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Remember to segment an oddly-shaped room into rectangles and measure them independently rather than as a whole. L-shaped spaces are hard to measure as a whole but can be broken down into two or more different sections.

Always add a few extra inches to your measurements before multiplying them to get the total size of the space. This gives you more material to work with and helps you compensate for any mistakes or errors you might have made in the exact measurement amounts.

Step 2 – Preparation

Make sure you have your carpet ready as soon as you can. The type that you choose does not matter that much: what is important are the tools and prep work that you need to have done before you can install it.

Try to get hold of the tools you will need to actually lay the carpet: things like duct tape, tack strips, a staple gun (if you need it), utility knives, tape measures, carpet rollers, and anything else that might be necessary for the installation process.

If you are working with concrete, then you will also need carpet adhesive, construction adhesive, masonry nails, and/or cement-based filler. Of course, every project is different, so plan ahead and figure out what you will actually use.

Then, you can prepare the room. Remove the old carpet, tiles, or laminate flooring, and make sure that you check the subfloor. If it is too damaged in spots, then you will usually want to replace those damaged sections.

Step 3 –Tack Strips

Tack strips are a vital part of installing any carpet, regardless of the flooring that you use. Place them roughly half an inch away from every wall and make sure that there are no gaps between strips (except when you are placing them near doorways).

These tack strips act as a shortcut to hold the carpet in place and are the standard method of modern carpet installation. How you install them depends on your flooring material: with wood, you can simply nail it down, but concrete requires the specific materials mentioned earlier.

Step 4 – Underlay

Your underlay pieces help keep the flooring comfortable and stop the carpet from being bunched up in strange ways – ideally, you want to lay them perpendicular to the direction that you will be placing the carpet down. Concrete flooring needs a synthetic fiber underlay to handle condensation.

Make sure that your underlay is touching the tack strips but not laying over them, then staple it into place (or use carpet adhesive for concrete flooring). The leftover seams can be covered with duct tape to get complete coverage.

Step 5 – Carpet

Now for the actual carpet itself. If you have not cut the carpet already, then make sure to cut the strips to size, with around six inches leftover just in case you need to trim it down further. 

If you cut too much off now, the strip is essentially useless to you, so be very careful.

When your first strip is ready, put it flush against the wall and then pull it across till it touches the opposite wall as well. Put a chalk line on the carpet, where it meets the wall, and then cut away the excess material so that you get a near-perfect fit.

You will want the pile directions to match. These pile directions change how the carpet looks in terms of color since the fibers might look completely different when brushed forwards compared to being brushed backward. If they are mismatched, the carpet may look mismatched too.

Overlap each strip with the previous one by an inch or two, and then cut through them both at once. This allows you to achieve a perfect fit without much stress. You can seal the seams between pieces of carpet (from the underside) using seaming tape and a seaming iron.

Step 6 – Fitting

Finally, you have to get the carpet stretched out. Once the carpet is fully laid, start in the center of any wall and try to push, kick, or even knee the carpet up against the wall.

The tacks that you laid earlier will allow the carpet to catch, meaning that you can effectively just nudge it against the wall’s edge, and it should stick. Larger spaces can benefit from a dedicated power stretcher tool, but this depends on the project itself.

It may take some fiddling to get the carpet exactly how you want it, but once the carpet is actually down, you mostly just need to get it in the right position. Take it slowly and keep moving it where it needs to be, then get ready to clean up once it is all done.

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