How To Install Padded Carpeting

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Installing new carpeting in the home improves the look and appeal of any room. It also can provide better insulation, sound control, and a more comfortable walking surface. If you want to install padded carpeting yourself, here’s how to get the project started.

Measuring For New Carpeting

Measure the longest wall in the room in feet. Then measure the shorter wall, or the width wall, in feet. Multiply the length by the width and divide by 9 to determine the square yards of carpet required for the room. Add 10 percent extra carpeting to compensate for irregularities or runarounds within the room. Using a 25-foot tape measure works best for this task. Repeat this process for each room to be carpeted and add up the total carpet needed in yards.

Prepping The Room For New Carpeting

If the room had old carpet in it, remove the carpet, pad, and tack strips. Clean, sweep or vacuum the floor. Make certain the subfloor is smooth and clean. Repair any bad spots, or deep knots, in the subfloor with a patching or leveling compound. Remove any large paint splatters or joint compound lumps from the floor. Vacuum the floor thoroughly. The cleaner the floor is, the easier the new carpet will be to install.

Remove all interior doors from the room by first removing the hinge pins. Leave the hinges themselves attached to the door and doorframe. Exterior doors that close onto a threshold can remain in place. Removing the interior doors will get them out of the way for carpet laying. It will also make the task of shaving off the bottom of the doors easier, if needed, to clear the new carpet.

Tackless Strips

Once the floor is clean, begin installing the tackless strips that will hold the carpet in place. The strips are easy to cut with a saw or shears. Cut a length of tackless strip to fit each wall. Continue around the room and nail the strips in place. Leave a space between the tackless strip and the wall equal to 2/3 of the thickness of the carpet or ½-inch. Use at least two nails for each strip to attach it to the subfloor. Tackless strips should join at each corner and the pointed pins, in each strip, should face the wall. To install carpet over tile flooring, remove the tiles where you are attaching the tackless strips. To install carpet over a concrete floor, use masonry nails or an epoxy adhesive to hold the tackless strips in place. Wear work gloves when handling tackless strips to protect your hands.

How To Install The Carpeting Pad

Unroll the carpet pad perpendicular to the direction the carpet will be laid. Cut the padding in strips long enough to fit across the room. Make sure the padding is long enough to cover the tackless strips on all the walls. The padding should be installed waffle side up. Staple it along its edge every 6-inches with a staple hammer. Alternate the staples along padding seams so they are not beside each other. If the installation is directly over a concrete floor, cement the padding to the floor. Strips of padding should not overlap. Rather, they should be butted up against each other to form a clean seam. Trim the excess padding covering the tackless strips with a utility knife. Cover each seam with duct tape.

Laying The Carpet

Cut the carpet 4 to 6 inches longer than the room's dimensions. Use a utility knife or carpet knife to cut the carpet from the backside. After measuring the carpet, flip the excess over a cutting board and use a metal straight edge to guide the final cut. Overlap each piece of carpet at the edges to allow for final trimming. Be certain when cutting and laying the carpet runs that the carpet pile is facing the same direction.

Overlap the edges of the carpet runs, leaving about 2 inches of excess carpet at each wall. Use a chalk line to snap a line on the backside of the overlapped carpet edges, and trim a straight edge to ensure a straight seam. Overlap the straight edges and use a carpet row cutter to cut the bottom piece. The edge of the top piece should be your guide in cutting the seam to fit.

Cut a length of seaming tape and carefully center it under the carpet seam. The adhesive side of the tape should face up and the carpet seams should butt up tight against each other. Melt the adhesive with a seaming iron by slowly pulling the iron down the length of the seam tape. When the adhesive has melted, promptly press the carpet edges together over the seam tape. Roll over the seam with a rolling pin, or other heavy object, to finish the seam.

Stretching The Carpet

Attach the carpet to the tackless strip in one of the corners using a knee kicker. Dig the teeth of the knee kicker into the carpet about 3-inchs from the wall. Kick the cushioned end of the knee kicker with your knee hooking the carpet to the tackless strip.

Once the first corner is hooked, use a power stretcher to stretch the carpet to the opposite wall. Place the base of the power stretcher, at the first wall that was hooked, and use a piece of scrap carpet or a padded 2 x 4 to pad the wall. Dig the teeth of the power stretcher into the carpet about 6 inches from the opposite wall. Press down the power stretcher lever and lock it into place. Stretch the carpet and attach it to the tackless strips.

Use the power stretcher to hook the other corner opposite of the first corner, follow the same procedure. Continue kicking and stretching the carpet until the edge of the carpet is attached to the tackless strip around the entire perimeter of the room.

Finishing The Carpet

  • Adjust the wall trimmer to the carpet thickness and carefully trim any excess carpet at each wall. With the blade on an angle, hold the base of the trimmer flat on the floor and slice the carpet down each wall. At the end of each wall, trim the last few inches using a sharp utility knife.
  • A stair tool will help to push the edges of the carpet between the wall and the tackless strips. Cut out any vent openings or electrical plates.
  • Trim the carpet at doorways by centering the end of the carpet under the shut door. Finish the doorway by installing a gripper edge or nail in a metal strip to hold the carpet in position.

Tools needed

  • 25-foot tape measure
  • Handsaw
  • Staple hammer
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife, carpet knife
  • Chalk line
  • Metal straight edge
  • Carpet row cutter
  • Knee kicker
  • Power stretcher
  • Wall trimmer
  • Stair tool
Last Updated: July 23, 2012
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About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

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