Carpet installation consists of:
- Removing existing flooring;
- Installing the carpet underlay;
- Installing the new carpet.
Removing Existing Flooring
The first step in installing carpet is removing the existing flooring (typically carpet) and inspecting the tack strip. Generally, the existing tack strip can be reused, provided that it is fastened securely around the perimeter of the room where the carpet will be installed. However, some portions of the tack strip may be rotted (such as around a patio door) and will need to be replaced by the installer.
Note: Carpet can be installed over an existing wood or vinyl flooring (in which case, there is no need to remove the existing flooring). Under such circumstances (or when carpet is installed over concrete), the installer will install new carpet gripper.
Installing The Carpet Underlay
The carpet underlay is laid on the floor, trimmed and securely fastened to the sub-floor with staples (on a wood sub-floor) or glue (on concrete).
Installing The Carpet
The carpet roll is cut to the size of the room and rolled out. The carpet must be properly stretched, using a power stretcher or knee kicker and firmly hooked onto the gripper.
The use of a power stretcher is critical. A power stretcher uses a lever system to multiply the installer’s applied stretching force. It creates tension across the entire length of the carpet, which helps to avoid wrinkling and buckling.
Many installers won’t invest in a power stretcher, choosing to use less expensive devices, such as a knee-kicker. A knee-kicker can damage the carpet or sub-floor and may provide an inadequate amount of stretch, resulting in wrinkling or buckling over time. Knee-kickers should only be used for positioning and hooking the carpet onto the gripper (although they can be used to install carpet on stair winders).
The installation is finished along the wall and the carpet is trimmed, leaving sufficient material so that it can be tucked between the skirting board and gripper. Minor scratching of skirting boards and mouldings may be unavoidable during the tucking process, especially if the paint work is still fresh.
Seam placement is very important. The general rule for seams are:
- No more than three (3) seams in a single room;
- No seams perpendicular to a doorway or opening;
- Seams should run “with” natural light from a window (not “through” it);
- Seams should be located under furniture, if possible; and
- Seams should not be located in high traffic areas.
If the width of the room is greater than the width of the roll of carpet, it may be necessary to seam together multiple pieces of carpet to complete the installation.
Buyer’s Tip: Seams are never invisible. So while adding seams may cut down on waste, reducing the amount of material required for the job, it can also negatively impact how the carpet will look. Make sure you review seam placement BEFORE the installation. Too many installers will try to add seams without telling you (in order to reduce their cost of material).
To create a proper seam, the edges of the carpet are trimmed leaving a smooth seam without gaps or overlaps. This is particularly important with Saxony, Berber or Patterned carpet where the seam may be more noticeable.
The trimmed edges must be sealed with an appropriate latex seam sealer to prevent the edges from fraying. Unfortunately, many installers skip this step in order to save costs.
Seaming tape (referred to as hot-melt tape) is placed under the carpet and a heating tool, similar to an iron, is used to fuse the two pieces of carpet together, with the seaming tape acting as the adhesive.
Glue Down Method
Carpet can also be installed using the glue-down method, in which the carpet is glued directly to the floor (if the surface is smooth and free from dirt and grease) or adhered to a special underlay, usually one of foam construction.
Stretching in a carpet over underlay is “preferred” to the glue-down method because:
- Carpet is more comfortable underfoot;
- Extends the carpet life;
- Absorbs sound, increasing the insulation effect of the carpet;
- Minimizes matting and pile crushing;
- Improves the efficiency of vacuuming the carpet;
- Allows better matching of patterned carpets; and
- Easier to remove the carpet when it is worn.