You can attach carpet to the floor in one of three ways—tacks, tack strips, or glue. Tacks have largely been replaced by tack strips, but you may still encounter them when removing or repairing carpets. Tack strips are thin, narrow pieces of wood that have two or three rows of closely spaced tacks that stick up out of the wood.
Carpet comes in rolls with widths of 12, 13-1/2 and 15 feet. If your room is wider than 15 feet, it will require a seam. No seam is invisible, and looped carpets show seams more than others, but a good job is less visible than a bad one. If your carpet requires a seam, practice with a few feet of scrap before deciding against professional installation.
Begin laying carpet in a corner of the room, anchoring the carpet to a few feet of tack strips against the longer wall. The exact order of work is shown in the steps that follow. Short arrows indicate where you push the carpet with the knee kicker. Long arrows show the angle and starting point of the power stretcher.
Available only at your local store:
* Binder bar
* Transition moldings
Cut the tackless strips to fit the perimeter of the room. Tackless strips are made for concrete or wood and vinyl and come with the proper nails in place. At doorways, wrap the strips around the door frame but do not extend them across the opening. Position and nail the strips with the points facing the wall. Keep a space equal to about two-thirds the thickness of the carpet between the walls and the strips, using a piece of carpet as a guide.
Padding comes in 4-1/2-foot or 6-foot-wide rolls. Unroll the padding so the seams, if any, will be at right angles to those in the carpet. Tape neighboring pieces together with 2-to 3-inch masking tape or as directed by the manufacturer. Staple along the pad every 10 to 12 inches in each direction. (A hammer stapler makes quick work of the job.) Work toward the tack strips, smoothing the pad and stapling as you go. Staple the pad against the edge of the tack strip. Run a carpet knife against the strip to trim the pad.
Measure the room. Snap chalklines across the back of the carpet to outline a piece that’s 6 inches longer and wider than the room. Put a piece of scrap wood under the carpet with the layout lines facing up. Use a straightedge to guide a carpet knife along each line. Change blades frequently.
Center the carpet in the room with the backing against the floor. Make relief cuts at the corners so the carpet lies flat. Cut from the top using a carpet knife.
At the long wall near a corner of the room, put the toothed end of a knee kicker in the carpet about one to three inches (1-3") from the wall. Push the padded end, then push down with a carpet tucker, as shown above, to anchor the carpet on the tack strips. Using the carpet tucker, tuck the carpet between the tack strip and wall. Push, hook, anchor, and tuck carpet along about three feet (3') of the wall.
Repeat on the short wall of the same corner. Push the carpet over the tack strips with the knee kicker, and anchor and tuck the carpet with the carpet tucker. Anchor and tuck the carpet along about three feet (3') of the wall.
Put the foot of the power stretcher against a 2×4 or 2×6 laid against the short wall of the starting corner. The 2×4 protects the wall from damage and should be about 48 inches long and padded with a piece of scrap carpet. Run the stretcher at about a 15-degree angle toward the opposite corner. Set the head of the stretcher about 6 inches from the wall. Push on the handle to stretch the carpet about 1 to 1-1/2 percent. (This translates to between 1-1/4 and 1-3/4 inches over a 10-foot span and is the amount of stretch you want each time you power-stretch.) Hook, anchor, and tuck the carpet along about three feet (3') of both of the corner’s walls.
With the knee kicker, push the carpet against the long wall between the two installed corners. Anchor and tuck with the carpet tucker.
Put the foot of the stretcher against the 2×4 and the long wall of the starting corner. Run the stretcher at about a 15-degree angle to the corner, as shown. Stretch, anchor, and tuck the carpet along about 3 feet of both walls that form the corner.
Use the knee kicker to push the carpet against the short wall, attaching it to the tack strips. Anchor and tuck, then work your way along the short wall, pushing and attaching the carpet as you go.
Power-stretch from the long wall of the starting corner to the opposite long wall, running the stretcher at about a 15-degree angle. Hook, anchor and tuck the carpet over the tack strips near the head of the stretcher. Moving the stretcher along the wall, stretch, hook, anchor and tuck the carpet section by section.
Power-stretch from the short wall of the starting corner, running the stretcher straight across the room. Attach the carpet to the tack strips, tuck it between the strips and the wall, then work your way across the wall with the knee kicker as shown in Step 13.
Attach the carpet along the last wall. Push it into place with the kicker; anchor and tuck it with the carpet tucker.
Set a wall trimmer to the thickness of the carpet and guide it along the wall to trim the edges of the carpet. Tuck the cut edges into the space between the strips and the wall using a plastic broad knife.
Install transition moldings wherever the carpet meets other flooring. A binder bar, shown here, is most commonly used. Seal the edge of the carpet with latex seam sealer to prevent unraveling. Nail the binder bar to the floor and push with the kicker to fit the carpet over the hooks in the binder bar. When the carpet’s in place, hit the bar with a rubber mallet, or put a block of wood over the bar to protect it and hammer the flange closed.
Get Some Help From A "Deadman"
In a large room, or a room with obstacles such as a radiator or baseboard heater, a power stretcher may be unable to reach from wall to wall. If that’s the case, use a “deadman.” Nail two lengths of tack strip to the face of a 2×10 with the teeth facing the same way. Put the teeth of the strip into the carpet so they slope away from the head of the stretcher and have a helper stand on the 2×10. Put the foot of the stretcher against the deadman and push against it as if it were a wall.
Typical Room Installation
Carpet layers begin by anchoring carpet first in one corner and then in the other corner of a long wall. The rest of the corners are anchored as the job progresses, but the overall picture looks like this: The installer anchors carpet on a long wall, followed by the adjoining short wall. The remaining long wall is next, followed by the remaining short wall.
The exact order of work is shown here. Short arrows indicate where you push the carpet with the knee kicker. Long arrows show the angle and starting point of the power stretcher. Attach the carpet near either the kicker or the stretcher, then reposition the tool and work your way along the wall.