Laying a Carpet

Summary: Information, help and advice on how to lay carpet, fit carpet with integral underlay and fit a carpet with a separate underlay.

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Laying carpet is something we would most certainly recommend is left to the professionals. Carpets are expensive and a mistake can cost a lot of money as well as leaving a room looking very untidy. However we know that DIY'ers the world over will want to have a go so we have listed the basic points to remember and, hopefully, help you. You should hire or buy a carpet knee kicker (or carpet stretcher) from a tool hire shop. It will stretch the carpet into position and stop any "bubbles" spoiling the job. You will also need to hire a carpet bolster which is a 3 inch bolster (the same as an electricians bolster) but with a very blunt, rounded edge. You should also wear some knee pads as you will be on your knees a lot!

If you take a look at many other DIY Projects on this web site, eg plastering, you will see that we recommend practice before the final operation. Your

Knee pads for saving wear and tear on trousers and knees

Knee pads for saving wear and tear on trousers and knees

carpet supplier will give you a couple of off cuts and you can practice cutting a carpet into a corner or round a doorframe.

Carpets are either supplied with a foam or rubber back which serves as the underlay or they need to be laid on a separate underlay.

First roll out your carpet in the empty room and cut it so it has an extra 200mm (8 inches) all round the room. Make sure any pattern in the carpet is square to the walls and that you cut enough overlap through any doorways. Now roll it up again and put to one side.

The first rule when laying carpet is to use some double sided tape to hold down sheets of paper to the floor. This can be newspaper or parcel paper, it does not matter. Should you ever have cause to remove the carpet you will find that the paper will stop the underlay or foam backing sticking to the floor.

Carpet gripper for the perimeter of the room

Carpet gripper for the perimeter of the room

Next, lay the gripper round the perimeter of the room. Wherever there will be a carpet edge, there should be gripper. Gripper comes with nails pre-installed and is laid about 12mm or half an inch away from the room boundaries, i.e. skirtings etc. The masonry nails in the gripper will usually be tough enough to hammer into floor screed. The sharp points on the gripper rods should always point towards the walls. These points grip the carpet as it is stretched over them and keep it tightly in place. Lay the gripper all round the room using a jointing strip (right) in the doorways. The jointing strip will have the same sharp points to grip the carpet.

Carpet threshold strip for joining carpets in doorways

Carpet threshold strip for joining carpets in doorways

The underlay should now be laid inside the gripper. Use double sided tape on all joins underneath the underlay.

Roll out the carpet on the underlay making sure it is square to the walls if patterns are involved. Push the carpet into one corner so the overlap you have allowed folds down onto the carpet leaving a crease where the carpet meets the skirting board.

Using a stanley knife to cut carpet into edges of room

Using a stanley knife to cut carpet into edges of room

Use the back edge of a Stanley knife blade to push this crease well into the joint where the carpet meets the floor. You should be concentrating on a length of about 600mm from the corner of the room at the moment. Turn the blade round and cut the 600mm along the crease until you have reached the corner. Then cut vertically upwards to leave the 600mm edge sitting on the gripper and push it down so it bites on the gripper nails. (if you don't have a decent sharp knife and would like to find out which knives are the best, check out our utility knife tool review and also our review of the various types of blades available).

Repeat this process 600mm along the remaining edge of the same corner. You now have one corner tight up to the skirting and fixed by the gripper rods.

Using the knee kicker, with teeth set so they just bite into the carpet, work along one edge of the carpet, cutting into the skirting board as you go. Always use the back of the blade to push the carpet down into the gap between gripper and skirting before you cut.

When one edge is complete go back to the starting corner and work along the other wall. Then back again to the starting point and use the kicker to stretch diagonally across the room.

Knee kicker or carpet stretcher for getting the carpet tight

Knee kicker or carpet stretcher for getting the carpet tight

When all the carpet is cut into position, use the kicker once more to make sure the carpet is tight to all skirting boards or threshold strips.

Now use the carpet bolster to bang down the carpet between the back edge of the gripper rods and the skirting boards. This gives a lovely neat finish and a job you can be proud of. All the tools mentioned in this project can be bought either from the tool box below, or by visiting our superstore.

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