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Installing Carpet Stretch Method

Carpet Buying Guide Sections

How To Install Stetch Method

Download Carpet Flooring Installation Instructions | PDF's
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With this method the carpet is cut to the dimensions of the room and laid out above a suitable pad. The carpet is stretched and secured to tackless strips around the perimeter of the room. This is the most common installation method in homes today.

Tips and Tricks

When installing with the stretch–in method, you'll be using a few specialized tools:

  • Carpet Cutter – Use this tool to cut carpet after it has been stretched and secured to the tackless strip. Begin by cutting an entry point into the carpeting between the tackless strip and the wall. Position the cutter close to the wall/baseboard at the entry point. Press firmly and guide the cutter along the wall to evenly trim the carpet.
  • Carpet Roller – Use this hand–held roller tool to blend carpet fibers together along seams.
  • Carpet Tractor – A larger version of a carpet roller with multiple rows of rollers. Use this tool instead of a carpet roller to help blend the fibers along seams.
  • Knee Kicker – Use this tool to position carpet in large rooms and stretch carpet in small areas. Set the teeth of the tool to a position relative to the thickness of the carpet. Place the teeth into the carpet about 6 inches from the wall. Be sure the head is pointing down and at an angle to the wall. Kneel down and hold the tool with one hand, while supporting yourself with the other. With all your weight on your support hand, kick the padded end of the tool with the area just above your knee. Secure or continue to position the carpet.
  • Power Stretcher – Use this tool to stretch carpet correctly in large rooms. Place the extendable end of the tool against the wall/baseboard. With the opposite end, set the teeth of the stretcher in the carpet on the opposite wall. Use a moderate amount of force to press the lever down to stretch the carpet. (You should see the carpet stretch.) Once stretched, secure the carpet to the tackless strip.
  • Seaming Iron – Use this tool to seal all seams between sheets of carpet. Allow the tool to pre–heat then iron over the adhesive side of a strip of seam tape. Once the heat has activated the adhesive, place the two pieces of carpet together.

Install the Tackless Strip

Begin by installing the tackless strip around the perimeter of the room as well as around all floor vents (but not in doorways). Be aware that tackless strips vary for wood and concrete subfloors.

  1. Measure the amount of tackless strip you'll need for your installation area. Cut the pieces, if necessary.
  2. Position the strip (with the tacks facing toward the wall) 1/4"–1/2" from the wall using either your fingers or a block of wood as a spacer. At corners, ensure the tackless strips meet without gaps.
  3. Use nails (for wood subfloors) or masonry tacks or epoxy (for concrete subfloors) to secure the strips every 8"–10" or as directed by your carpet manufacturer.

Install the Padding

Carpet padding is glued to concrete subfloors or nailed to wood subfloors. Many professionals install padding perpendicular to the way the carpet will be installed.

  1. Roll out the padding in the room. Cut strips to cover the whole subfloor. Do not overlap.
  2. Trim padding at tackless strips. Ensure there are no gaps between the padding and the strips.
  3. Staple the padding every 18"–24" for wood subfloors. Follow the adhesive manufacturer's recommendations for concrete subfloors.
  4. Duct tape all seams.

Cut the Carpet

When cutting, use a carpet or utility knife. Cut along the back for cut pile carpeting or along the face for loop pile carpeting.

  1. Measure the longest side of your room in the direction the carpet will be installed. Add 6" to your measurement.
  2. Unroll the carpet pile side down. Use a pencil and chalk line to mark your measurements.
  3. Fold the carpet at the chalk line and use a carpet knife to cut along that line. Use a straight edge to help ensure you get a straight cut.
  4. If you need more than one piece of carpet, measure and cut the next section until you have carpet for the entire area. Allow for 4"–6" of extra carpet on either side of each piece. You'll trim this once the carpet is laid out to ensure seams fit together tightly. If working with patterned carpet, allow for the pattern to match or repeat naturally on the next cut.
  5. Layout the cut pieces of carpet in the room. There should be extra carpet along all edges. Avoid placing carpet seams directly above padding seams. Ensure the pile runs in the same direction on each sheet.
  6. Cut the carpet at corners so it lays flat. When trimming outside corners, cut from top to bottom. When trimming inside corners, cut small "V's" (with the point of the "V" at floor level) until the carpet lays flat.

Cut and Seams

If your room has seams, you'll need to cut pieces to fit together exactly then seal the seams using a seaming iron.

  1. Overlap two carpet pieces by 4"–6" (or more for pattern repeats). Ensure the pile is running in the same direction and that any patterns match or repeat naturally.
  2. Place a scrap piece of wood below the overlapped areas then use a carpet knife to cut through BOTH pieces of carpet.
  3. Align the two pieces of carpet on the floor. They should fit together exactly and patterns should match or repeat naturally. Discard the cut carpeting
  4. Roll back the two pieces of carpet temporarily. Layout a strip of seaming tape (adhesive side up) along the whole seam
  5. Run the seaming iron over the length of the seaming tape to activate the adhesive. Do not iron the pad or the carpet!
  6. Quickly, lay one half of the carpet into the adhesive tape then the other. Ensure the pieces fit snugly together to minimize the appearance of the seam. Press the two edges into the tape to ensure a good bond.
  7. Use a carpet roller, carpet tractor or rolling pin to roll the whole seam as directed by your manufacturer.

Stretch and Secure the Carpet

Once your carpet is laid out above the pad and any seams are sealed, you're ready to stretch and secure the carpet to the tackless strips.

  1. Starting in one corner of the room, use the knee kicker to stretch and secure the carpet to the tackless strip. Work your way along the whole wall.
  2. Move to an adjacent wall and stretch and secure the carpet with the knee kicker.
  3. Move to the wall opposite of the one you started on. Use the power stretcher to stretch and secure the carpet along this whole wall. Remember, it should take moderate force to push the lever down. Too little or too much force will stretch the carpet incorrectly. Use a piece of scrap carpet between stretcher arm and the wall on the opposite side.
  4. Move to the last remaining wall. Use the power stretcher to stretch and secure the carpet to the tackless strips.

Tuck In, Trim and Finish Up

  1. Use a stair tool to tuck in the carpet between the tackless strip and the baseboard.
  2. Use a carpet trimmer to trim away any excess carpet along all walls. In doorways, trim the carpet so it extends half way through the doorway.
  3. Trim all loose fibers. DO NOT pull.
  4. Vacuum and begin using your newly carpeted room.
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