Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Basically, there are two types of wall-to-wall car­peting. Conventional carpeting is laid over a sep­arate rubber or foam padding and must be stretched and attached to tackless strips around the perimeter of the room. Cushion-backed car­peting, which has foam bonded to its backing, doesn’t need to be stretched—it’s usually glued down—so it’s generally easier to install. However, it must be destroyed to remove it. Consequently, better-quality carpeting is almost always conven­tional, and that’s the focus here.

Carpeting doesn’t ask much of subflooring, which can be slightly irregular as long as it is dry, solid, and adequately sized (58-in. plywood is typical). Carpeting can be installed over existing wood, tile, resilient flooring, or concrete floors; but check the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding subgrade installations, acceptable gaps in the substrate, padding thickness and type, and so on. Don’t scrimp on padding; buy the densest foam or heaviest rubber padding you can.


You can rent most of the specialized tools. To install conventional carpeting you’ll need the following:

► A power stretcher stretches carpeting taut across a room, so it can be secured to tackless strips along opposite walls. Cross­room stretching eliminates sags in the middle of a room. You simply add and adjust stretcher sections to extend the tool.

► A knee-kicker is used in tandem with the power stretcher to lift the carpet edges onto strips, to stretch the carpet in a closet, or to draw the seams closer together before you hot-glue them.

Подпись: should slant toward a person ascending the stairs. Try to carpet stairs with a single piece 3 in. wider than the stair treads, to allow for tucking along both sides of the tread. If the carpet has a repeating pattern, determine how often it repeats and add that amount plus 2 in. to the lengths of smaller pieces that must be seam-matched to the large piece of carpet covering most of the room. Given a detailed layout sketch, a flooring supplier can refine the estimate and order the correct amount of padding, tackless strips, and so on. INSTALLING TACKLESS STRIPS Wear heavy gloves when handling tackless strips. Nail the strips around the perimeter of the room, leaving 14-in. gaps between the strips and the base of walls so you can tuck the carpet edges into those gaps. As you nail down each strip, try not to hit the angled tack points sticking out of the strip. (The tacks should always slant toward walls, away from the center of the room, so the carpet will stay impaled on the tacks.) Because it's difficult to grasp the strips without pricking a finger, use aviation snips to shorten them. Each strip must be nailed down with at least two nails. Nail the strips in front of radiators or built-in cabinets, because it would be difficult to I Carpet Layout 1 ^ Pretrimmed size / of carpet image1029

► The stair tool drives carpeting into the spaces between tackless strips and walls and between stair risers and treads.

► A seam iron heats the hot-melt carpet seam tape that joins the carpet sections.

► The row runner, or row-running knife, cuts between the rows of loop-pile carpeting. Many installers use a large, flat-bladed screwdriver to separate the rows first.

► An edge trimmer trims the carpet edges so they can be tucked behind tackless strips; under baseboards; or under transition pieces such as metal carpet doors, which are used in doorways or where dissimilar flooring materials meet.

► Seam rollers can be either star wheeled (spiked) or smooth; they press the carpet edges onto the hot-melt seam tape to ensure a strong bond. Use a smooth roller for cut-pile carpets and a star roller for loop-pile carpets.

► Miscellaneous tools include a utility knife with extra blades, aviation snips to cut tackless strips, a hammer, a stapler if you’re applying padding over plywood, a notched trowel if you’re installing padding over concrete, heavy shears, a chalkline, a tape measure, and a metal straightedge to guide utility-knife cuts.


Carpeting comes on factory rolls whose standard width is 12 ft.; a handful of carpet manufacturers offer widths of 13 ft. 6 in. or 15-ft. Plan on cover­ing most of the room with a large piece of carpet 12 ft. wide, then covering the remaining spaces with smaller pieces joined to the large piece with hot-melt seam tape. Professional installers call the full-width piece of carpet the drop; the smaller pieces are called the fill. Joining carpet seams is time consuming so choose a layout that mini­mizes seams.

Start by measuring the room’s width and length at several points; then make a sketch of the room on a piece of graph paper. A 14 in. to 1 ft. scale is a good size to work with. On the sketch, include closets, alcoves, base cabinets, floor registers or radiators, stairs, doorways, and so on. Also note the location of doors and windows, particularly the main entrance into the room. Carpet pile should slant toward the main entrance, so that a person entering the room looks into the carpet pile.

Carpet seams and edges must be trimmed, so

factor that into your estimate. Add 3 in. for seamed edges, and allow 6 in. extra for each car­pet edge that runs along a wall. Stair carpet pile

An ideal layout minimizes waste and seams, positions seams away from traffic, and orients carpet pile so that someone entering through the main entrance looks into the pile. Carpet comes in 12 ft.-wide rolls (also called bolts), so 41 RF (running feet) of carpet would allow enough extra for trimming edges in this 16 ft. by 25 ft. room.

Подпись: LAYING WALL-TO-WALL CARPETINGПодпись: In the old days, installers tacked the perimeter of a carpet every inch and hand-sewed sections together. Today, carpet seams are joined with hot-melt tape (above right) and stretched onto tackless strips that hold the edges securely. The tool in the foreground is a knee-kicker, used to move carpet.

nail the strips or to stretch carpeting behind or under such obstacles. To anchor carpet edges in doorways, you can use a metal carpet bar, which has angled barbs like a tackless strip, as shown in "Carpet Transitions,” on the facing page. Or you can install a hardwood threshold to provide a clean edge to butt the carpet to, after first anchoring it to a tackless strip, or folding the car­pet under about 1 in. and nailing down that hem.