Project Guide

How To Install Carpet

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Install Tack Strips
A person nailing carpet tack strips for installing carpet.
  • Remove everything from the floor and any doors that open into the room where carpet will be installed.
  • Use a small hand saw or specially designed snips to cut carpet tack strips to fit the perimeter of the room.
  • Position the strips with the tack points facing the wall.
  • Install tack strips around door frames but not across the threshold to prevent stepping on the sharp points.
  • Keep a space equal to about two-thirds the thickness of the carpet between the walls and the tack strips, using a scrap piece of carpet as a guide.
  • Nail the tack strips to the wooden subfloor or, if installing carpet over concrete, use masonry tacks or an epoxy adhesive attach the strips to the floor.

Note: Tack strips are sometimes called tackless strips, because they eliminate the need for using individual carpet tacks to hold carpeting to the floor.

Install Carpet Padding
A person stapling carpet padding to prepare for carpet installation.
  • Install carpet pad so that any seams 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.
  • Use a staple hammer-tacker to fasten the carpet pad against the edge of the tack strip.
  • Trim excess pad at the edge of the tack strip with a carpet trimmer or sharp utility knife.
  • At pad seams, alternate the staples so they aren’t next to each other.
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendation for adhesive when installing carpet padding on concrete.
Measure and Cut the Carpet
A person cutting carpet to prepare for installation.
  • Measure the room along the longest wall. Add 6-inches to the measurement.
  • Unroll a sufficient amount of carpet. Do this outside, if possible.
  • Notch the back of the carpet with a utility knife at the appropriate measurement.
  • Roll up the carpet with the backing facing outward. Snap a chalk line across the back of the carpet at the notch you made.
  • With the chalk line facing up, place a board underneath the carpet to provide a stabile cutting surface.
  • Use a straightedge to guide a carpet knife along the chalk line. Be sure to always use a sharp blade.
Layout the Carpet and Secure the Seams
A person making a relief cut in the corner of carpet to be installed.
  • Unroll the carpet with the backing face-down along the wall onto the padding in the room. Keep about 3-inches lapping up the wall.
  • Make relief cuts at corners so the carpet lies flat. Cut from the top using a carpet knife.
  • Unroll additional pieces of carpeting into position to cover the floor. Be sure the carpet’s pile leans in the same direction on the pieces.
  • Use heat-activated seaming tape where two pieces of carpeting meet.
  • Check that the adjoining edges are straight and touching but not overlapping.
  • Lift and bend back one side of the seam. Slip the seam tape halfway underneath the carpet resting on the floor.
  • Lower the raised piece of carpet and check the seam is tight for the entire length.
  • Following the tape manufacturer’s guidelines, place a heated seaming iron into the seam and slowly glide it along the seam to activate the tape adhesive.
  • Place flat, heavy objects on top of the seam as the glue dries.
Anchor Along the First Wall
A person using a knee kicker to anchor carpet to the floor along a wall.
  • Place a knee kicker about 3-inches from a long wall near a corner.
  • Use it to push and hook the carpet into position on the tack strip. 
  • Move along the wall as you strike the kicker to stretch and pull any wrinkles or slack from the carpet as you latch it to the strips.

After the carpet is attached along the first wall, trim the excess from the edge using a wall carpet trimmer.

  • Set the wall trimmer to the thickness of the carpet.
  • Keep the tool’s shoe pressed tightly against the carpeting and keep the carpet tight against the baseboard as you guide it along the wall.
  • Press the cut edge under the baseboard using a carpet tucker or stair tool.
Stretch the Carpet
A person using a power stretcher for carpet installation.
  • With the carpet anchored along the first wall, move to the opposite wall and use a carpet stretcher with lever action to stretch the carpet across the floor.
  • Place the head of the stretcher several inches from the wall to be attached. Its teeth will grip into the carpet.
  • Adjust extension rods behind the stretcher so that they extend across the floor and back to the first wall.
  • Use a scrap board to prevent damage to the baseboard.
  • Push the lever down to stretch the carpet taut.
  • Reach in front of the power stretcher to hook the carpet onto the tack strip.
  • Continue along the wall, then trim excess with the wall trimmer and tuck the edge underneath the baseboard.
  • When the carpet is anchored to two opposite walls, repeat the procedure to stretch, anchor, cut and tuck the remaining walls.
Install Transition Moulding
A person installing transition moulding in a doorway threshold.
  • Install carpet transition strips at thresholds where carpet meets another type of flooring.
  • Seal the edge of the carpet with latex seam sealer to prevent unraveling.
  • Measure the threshold and cut the carpet gripper to length with a hack saw.
  • Screw the carpet trim to the floor.
  • Use the knee kicker to fit the carpet over the hooks in the carpet gripper.
  • Hit the bar with a rubber mallet or put a block of wood over the bar to protect it and hammer the flange closed over the carpet edge.

Installing carpet can be done by DIYers. The process is straightforward and you can rent carpet installation tools. It's not the type of project for everyone, however, so we also offer a carpet installation service.