Carpet Installation Guide

Carpet installation in something like a square room can apprear to be fairly straight forward; however, add in stairs, or lots of seams and trims and things can become complicated very quickly. 

Before you decide to take on the job, make sure you have a thorough grasp of the process. Watch several tutorials. Know what the necessary tools are and how to use them. Sometimes an inferior carpet installation job shows up right away, with ridges in the carpet or corners that pull up. At other times, poor installation won’t show up for a 6-12 months, especially if the carpet hasn’t been properly stretched. When this occurs, the carpet will become loose and ridges will appear throughout the high traffic areas as it relaxes. Our carpet installers are nothing less than experienced professionals and will ensure the proper installation of your carpet, no matter where it's going.

This guide will help you understand more about whats involved in carpet installation, as well as the tools commonly used, how to prep the floor, installation techniques, and other common questions about the installation process. In addition, we encourage you review the carpet flooring buying guide, and how to, maintain and clean your carpet to keep it looking brand new for as long as you have it.

Tools and Supplies

Here’s a list of tools required for carpet installation. You may be able to find some of them from your local rental store.

  • Tools: Carpet knife, measuring tape, chalk line, knee kicker, power stretcher, tack strip cutter, hammer, stapler, stair tools if necessary and a seam iron. 
  • Supplies: you’ll need tack strip and nails to install it, staples for the padding and seam tape.

Preparing the Floor for New Carpet

Thorough floor preparation is essential. If debris like drywall mortar is left on the subfloor, you’ll feel it every time you step on it. And eventually, it may cause premature wear in the flooring. Start by removing trim, toe kicks and doors from the rooms to be carpeted. Remove old carpeting, the padding and all the staples.

Then, if it’s a wood subfloor, walk the entire floor looking for squeaks. Now is your chance to silence them. Remove the squeaky board and apply glue to it, then screw it back down. At the very least, add a few screws to see if that stops the noise.

If the floor is concrete, fill in any cracks and sand them smooth.

Installation Techniques

Here are the main steps to getting your carpet down.

Step 1: Install tack strip around the entire perimeter of the room. Leave it approximately 3/8” from the wall. The printed arrows on the strips should face the wall.

Step 2: Next, roll out the carpet padding  onto the floor and cut to fit. It should not cover the tack strip.

Step 3: Use a carpet stapler to install staples about every 2 feet horizontally and vertically.

Step 4: Affix the starting side of the carpet to the tack strip before trimming. Fold the carpet over and press the fold into the gulley between the tack strip and the wall. Use a 2×4 or similar object to press it firmly onto the tacks. Some use a rubber mallet.

Step 5: Now it’s time to use the power stretcher. Move toward the loose end of the carpet and stretch the carpet in increments. Move horizontally and diagonally over the piece of carpeting you are installing.

Step 6: When you reach the far end, use the stretcher to attach the loose end of the carpet to the tack strip. If a second piece will be seamed to the first, don’t tack down the last 1-2 feet of it so that it can be rolled back for seaming.

Step 7: Trim the ends of the carpet that have been affixed using a carpet trimmer or knife. Cut along the back side of the tack strip and tuck the loose end into the valley between the tack strip and the wall.

Step 8: If seams are required, cut the next piece of carpet. Roll back the piece that has been installed, so that the back of the carpet can be seamed. Lay the second piece next to it, facing down as well. Align the seams and cut a piece of seam tape to fit. Heat the seam iron, and when it is fully hot, iron the seam slowly and methodically. You may want to open windows for ventilation while ironing seams. Once the seam is secure, follow the steps above to install the added piece of carpeting.

Step 9: Cutting around obstacles requires a slow, steady hand. Cut slowly from the edge of the carpet toward corners. Then cut along the obstacle for trimming.

Finishing the Job

Once the carpet is installed, vacuum it thoroughly. Install baseboard trim and hang the doors. Now, you’ll get the best longevity from your carpet by keeping it clean. See our Rugs & Carpet Maintenance, Care and Cleaning Guide for the details.