Use tack strips and tools you can rent from The Home Depot to install plush carpeting on your own
Installing carpet is a job you can do yourself and save money. Just be prepared to take your time, and make sure you have the right tools, which you can rent at your local Home Depot Tool Rental Center.
This guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to install carpet using tack strips, which are thin, narrow pieces of wood with sharp tacks protruding through them to hold the carpeting in place.
What You Need
• Select the right padding for your carpet. A better quality pad offers a more comfortable surface, longer carpet life, and better sound and energy insulation.
• Renting a knee kicker and carpet stretcher is often much more economical than buying one.
• Use caution when using the knee kicker. Don't be overly aggressive. Hit it with the part of your leg just above the knee.
• 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.
• Cut the tackless strips to fit the perimeter of the room. 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.
• 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 the pad against the edge of the tack strip.
• Run a carpet knife against the strip to trim the pad.
• Measure the room.
• Snap chalk lines across the back of the carpet to outline a piece that is 6 inches longer and wider than the room.
• Place a piece of scrap wood under the carpet with the layout lines facing up and 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 1 to 3 inches from the wall.
• Push the padded end and then push down with a carpet tucker to anchor the carpet on the tack strips.
• Tuck the carpet between the tack strip and wall using the carpet tucker.
• Push, hook, anchor and tuck carpet along about 3 feet of the wall.
Tip: When laying carpet, see the illustration in the final step of this guide for anchoring suggestions.
• 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 3 feet 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 and set the head of the stretcher about 6 inches from the wall.
• Push on the handle to stretch the carpet. Aim for about 1 to 1-1/2 percent, or approximately 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 inches over a 10-foot span each time you power-stretch.
• Hook, anchor and tuck the carpet along about 3 feet 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.
• 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.
• Stretch, hook, anchor and tuck the carpet section by section, moving the stretcher along the wall.
• 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, and 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 moulding 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 is 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.
Now that you've learned how to install carpet using tacking strips, here are a few carpet installation tips:
Carpet Installation at a Glance
• 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.
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.