DIY Guide: How to Install Wall-to-Wall Carpet

by Joanna Stewart

Thu, Nov 22, 2018

contemporary living room with large windows Photo via Michael Abraham Architecture

More and more people are bypassing the high costs of a paid contractor and going the do-it-yourself route. Installing carpet yourself isn’t overly complicated. It just takes a bit of muscle and some preparation.

Be sure to order the right amount of carpet, leaving room for error (Tip: Use our carpet calculator). The store where you purchase your carpet can help determine exactly how much you need if you’re uncertain. And don’t forget to give the subfloor a good cleaning before you get started.

Another good prep tip is to remove the doors in the room. It makes it easier to get around while you’re doing the job. It will probably take the good part of a day to lay the carpet in one room if you haven’t done it before.

Here are the tools and materials you’ll need to install carpet in your home:

Carpet Padding Tackless Strip Seaming Tape
Binder bar Shoe molding
Knee kicker Gloves Tack strip cutter Utility knife
Measuring tape Seam Iron Stair tool Hand stapler
Hammer Carpet knife Top cutter Wall trimmer
Carpet Tucker Seam Roller

Step One: After you’ve finished your prep work, it’s time to install the tackless strips. Cut the strips to size with a strip cutter and then nail the strips 12” from the wall. One thing you want to avoid is installing the strips across thresholds or doorways. The tacks are sharp and could cut someone if they poke through the carpet.

You also want to be sure (before you start this step) if you’re using the correct size. Tackles strips come in different widths, heights and thicknesses. Also note that if you’re installing carpet over a concrete subfloor, you’ll need masonry tacks or epoxy adhesive to hold the strips in place.

Step Two: Now it’s time to lay out the carpet pad. Lay it down in a perpendicular direction to the direction you plan to install the carpet, and then staple it near the tackless strips with a staple hammer. If you plan to the lay down the carpet in a north-south direction, for example, lay the carpet pad in an east-west direction.

Step Three: You will have seams in your carpet pads and they must be stapled. Alternate the staples as you go so that they aren’t directly beside one another. You should also stretch the padding so that the pieces fit tightly together.

Step Four: Now feel for the tackless strip beneath the padding. Take a utility knife and cut away the padding along the interior edge of the strip. Your goal here is to expose the tacks.

Step Five: And here’s where a little help may come in handy. First, measure the longest wall in the room you are working in, and then add 3”. It’s best to work outside on the next step to ensure plenty of room, if possible. Cut a small notch at the appropriate length on both sides.

Now, roll the carpet out on both sides facing outward until you see the notches. Draw a chalk line from notch to notch. Cut the carpet along the chalk line and bring it back inside.

Step Six: Keeping the carpet as straight as possible, roll it out into the room. Trim the carpet to size, leaving 3” next to the wall. Continue laying the rest of the carpet until you fill the room.

Step Seven: The next step is creating seams. Where the edges of the carpet join, make sure they are straight. Then place a piece of seaming tape underneath the seam with the adhesive side up.

When your seaming iron has been heated to the manufacturer’s recommended temperature, rest it directly on the tape for 15 to 30 seconds. Then press the seam into the melted glue, joining the pieces. Place some heavy objects on the seam so it holds in place until the glue dries.

Keep in mind that the seams should run parallel to the main source of light in the room, and check to make sure the pile of each piece seamed together have been placed in the same direction.

Step Eight: Using the knee kicker, attach the carpet to the tackless strips. You want to place the face of the kicker against the carpet and about 3” away from the wall. Use a little force when striking the padded end so that you’re stretching out the carpet over the tackless strips.

Step Nine: With your wall trimmer, trim the excess carpet. A stair tool will help to press the cut edges underneath the baseboards.

Step Ten: If there are areas where the carpet doesn’t meet the wall (as in the entryway or threshold), nail a binder bar to the area where the carpet ends.

Step Eleven: Your last step is to trim the carpet around areas that need it—such as vent areas. If you like, attach shoe molding around the room.

Keep carpets clean with frequent vacuuming. Shampoo rugs twice a year for best wear.

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