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How to Install Wall-to-Wall Carpet Yourself

Installing new carpet not only enhances the beauty of a room but provides insulation, sound control, and a comfortable surface to walk on.

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Step 1: Determine the Area of the Room

Measure the longest walls in your room. Multiply the length and width, and divide by 9 to determine the square yardage. Add 10 percent to allow for errors, irregularities and pattern matching.

Step 2: Clean the Subfloor

Make sure the surface to be carpeted is smooth and clean. Scrape up any paint or joint compound and sweep and vacuum the floor thoroughly.

thoroughly clean the surface to be carpeted

Step 3: Remove the Doors

If possible, remove the doors from the room so you won't have to work around them. Having the doors out of the way will also make it easier for you to cut off the bottoms of the doorjambs if necessary.

remove doors to make it easier to work around them

Step 4: Install the Tackless Strips

Cut the tackless strips to size with a strip cutter or heavy snips (Image 1). Nail the strips 1/2" from the wall (Image 2). Don't install tackless strips across thresholds or doorways; the tacks on the strips are sharp and could poke through the carpet and hurt your feet. Tackless strips come in a variety of widths, thicknesses and heights. Make sure you're using the correct size. If you're installing carpet over a concrete subfloor, use masonry tacks or epoxy adhesive to hold the tackless strips in place.

Step 5: Install the Carpet Pad

Lay out the carpet pad perpendicular to the direction you plan to install the carpet (Image 1), and staple it near the tackless strips with a staple hammer (Image 2).

Step 6: Staple Any Pad Seams

Staple the seam of the pad, alternating staples so that they aren't beside one another. Stretch the padding so that the pieces are butted tightly together.

Step 7: Trim the Pad

Feel through the padding to locate the tackless strip, and use a utility knife to cut away the padding along the interior edge of the strip (Image 1) so that all the tacks are exposed (Image 2).

Step 8: Notch Corners for Trimming

Measure the room at its longest point, and add 3" to the measurement. Take the carpet outside if possible, and notch the back on both sides at the appropriate length. The carpet will be easier to handle outside. You might want someone to help you.

use the driveway to roll out carpeting

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 9: Trim the Carpet to Size

Roll the carpet with the back facing outward until the notched areas show. Then run a chalk line from notch to notch. Cut the back of the carpet along the chalk line, roll up the carpet, and take it back inside.

cut carpet from notch to notch along chalk line

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 10: Trim the Excess Carpet

Roll out the carpet into the room. Keep it as straight as possible. Cut away excess carpet, but leave about 3" extra next to the walls (Image 1). Lay out any additional carpet needed to fill the room (Image 2).

Step 11: Glue the Seams Together

Where the carpet edges join, you'll need to create a seam. The seamed edges of both carpet segments must be straight. Check the edges: don't assume that a factory edge is straight. Place a piece of seaming tape under the seam, adhesive side up. Heat the seaming iron to the temperature recommended by the tape manufacturer, and rest it directly on the tape for 15 to 30 seconds. Then slowly slide the iron along the tape, and press the seam into the melted glue behind the iron. After the pieces are joined, place heavy objects on the seam to hold it in place as the glue dries. Seams should run parallel to the room's main light source. And make sure the pile of both pieces leans in the same direction.

use seaming tape with adhesive to join pieces

Step 12: Trim Around the Obstacles

Dry-fit the carpet, butting one end against a wall. Use a carpet knife to trim the carpet to fit around obstacles.

Step 13: Attach the First Edge of the Carpet

Attach the carpet to the tackless strips at one end of the room, using the knee kicker. Place the face of the knee kicker against the carpet about 3" away from the wall, and forcefully strike the padded end to stretch the carpet over the tackless strips.

use knee kicker to attach carpet to tackless strip

Step 14: Trim the Excess from the Edges

Trim excess carpet (Image 1) with a wall trimmer, which rests against the wall and provides a straight cut at the correct spot. Use a stair tool to press the cut edges underneath the baseboard trim (Image 2).

Step 15: Stretch the Carpet

Use the power stretcher to attach to the strips on the other side of the room. For corners and alcoves where the power stretcher can't reach, use the knee kicker and stair tool.

a power stretcher is used to atach carpet to strip

Step 16: Use the Binder Bar

Nail a binder bar to any areas where the carpet ends without abutting a wall such as a threshold. Stretch the carpet with the knee kicker to link to the hooks in the binder bar then use a wooden block or scrap piece of lumber to close the binder bar onto the edge of the carpet.

Step 17: Finish Trimming the Carpet

When all the carpet is in place, cut out the vent openings. Attach shoe molding around the room if desired.

Tip: At the point where the carpet extends into the alcove, fold it at the depth of the alcove before you beginning to roll it up. Then roll toward the folded section. When unrolling the carpet, start at the end of the room closest to the alcove.

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