Doing a DIY Carpet installation can literally save you thousands. The general materials required are easy to find and use. Ultimately, you can replace your own carpet the DIY way, and add professional flair to your install.
Removing old carpet
Use gloves and a utility knife to create a quick and safe install. Work with pieces of carpet that are no longer than 5×5 ft. because they are more manageable. This does not have to be pretty or using straight cuts, just cut and roll up and discard. Use gloves because of the saturation of the carpet. In my experience, our carpet was installed in 1995 and we had 2 dogs, we moved in in 2012. So that is many years of dog pee, poop, and whatever else was absorbed since 1995. You get the picture and this may be a very familiar picture. But again, keep it simple and clean use your gloves and a respirator if available.
Remove the carpet first, and then the padding. This will allow you to maintain better control over the dust, debris, etc. Once the carpet is gone, work on the padding in the same manner. Cut 5×5 sections (sections could be smaller, 5×5 ft works for me, I am 6ft tall). One thing to note with removing the carpet padding, it is most likely stapled to the floor and/or glued in sections. Use a pry bar, flat head screw drew, even a flat head drill bit and a slight press on the trigger of the drill to loosen staples. Be very careful because saturated staples are often rusty and very brittle and can cut you or puncture your gloves (I learned the hard way).
Capet Installation Materials
- Carpet Foam
- Knee Kicker
- Some Seam Tape (if applicable)
- A Seam Roller (if applicable)
- Seam Iron (if applicable)
- Staple gun
- Utility knife or razor blade/box cutter
- Pry bar
- Tack Strips
How to install Carpet Padding
For the remainder of this post, I will refer to carpet padding as either carpet padding or carpet foam. Using the terms interchangeably. What I have learned in the DIY world is, many things are referred to as different names and terms used interchangeably. My goal is to provide some clarity but also familiarity with the terms, tools, and materials, all involved in DIY. The carpet foam is an area where you don’t want to skimp simply because this has a huge impact on the softness of your carpet.
You ever visit someone’s house and walking on their carpet feels like a hardwood floor? Think cheap, low quality carpet foam. Carpet foam is relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, to my knowledge you can’t buy it cut to size but rather in big rolls as much as 274ft for $99.
Why you need good carpet foam
The good thing about carpet padding is it’s the easiest part of the installation. Basically, you roll out this very light foam and cut it to size. Roll it right out to about 1/4 inch before the tack strip. This allows for space when you use the knee kicker to move the carpet closer to the wall and tack strip. That space will keep the carpet foam from going onto the tack strip as well. Be careful with the space you choose to leave between the tack strip and carpet foam because this may create a groove or divot around the wall. Use staples to keep foam in place.
When it comes to carpet, the colors and price range can accommodate your taste and budget. Yes, there is even clearance carpet, not because it’s worn or anything else just not selling and it’s time to clear the shelf. So think about your color scheme and purpose for carpet. If you have pets make sure your carpet choice and carpet foam support pets i.e., Stainmaster.
DIY Carpet Installation Tools
Now, I’ll talk about tools for installation. The knee kicker is a tool that you basically “knee” or hit with your knee to pull the edges of the carpet onto the tack strip and close to the wall. Some professional installers use a knee kicker and carpet stretcher but we can create a very similar effect if we position the knee kicker at ideal locations around the room.
How to use a knee kicker
To use the knee kicker, remove safety plate to expose the teeth. Then place it in the desired location on the carpet. Using your knee, drive your knee into the soft pad on the square surface of the knee kicker. The effect is that your knee will force the teeth to grip, lift, and move the carpet forward towards wall and up and onto tack strips.
The purpose of the tack strips are to provide a base for the carpet to adhere to. The tack strips should be placed 1/4 to 1/2 inches from the wall to create a gully for the carpet to get tucked into. Here is what to expect: your carpet has a textured pattern underneath and the tacker strips have nail type structures going through the wood and exposed. The purpose of those nail type structures is to grip and hold the carpet in place. If you ever need to troubleshoot a carpet that has bulges in it, start with the knee kicker. If you continue in your troubleshooting, you might arrive at improper install of padding, absence of padding, or low quality carpet padding. All easy fixes.
Don’t listen to everything you hear about carpet installs
Some people are recommending standing in the center of your carpet and jumping towards the wall to move the carpet. I have not tried this and I don’t recommend it. If this is effective, knee kickers wouldn’t sell and would not be available.
One final note about tack strips, if they were installed previously you do not need to replace them. This is true for about 99% of the time. Those of us with pets know our pets have weird habits and they can get pee in places we’d never imagine. If you know or discover your pet has saturated your tack strips beyond repair, $25 bucks, replace them. Place them around the perimeter of the room and drive a nail through the pre-cut wholes.
How to install the Tack Strip or Transition Strip
Remember place the tack or transition strip 1/4 to 1/2 inches in front of the walls around the perimeter of the room. You will need a transition strip for areas such as going from your newly carpeted room to your hardwood floor in the hallway. Just add or replace the transition strip, drive the nails (3 should do). Use the knee kicker in the same way as the tack strip with the transition strip. Get the carpet close enough to the transition strip and call it a day.
At this point you have your tack strip installed and your foam laid out. Your foam has been stapled into place as well. If you have a full roll of carpet that was measured previously to fit the size of your room, this should be fairly easy. Even if you need to seam the carpet together, not a big deal. It sounds worse than it is.
How to install the carpet yourself
- Place carpet roll at wall where the roll has clearance to roll towards other wall as in the picture above.
- Unroll the carpet towards the far wall.
- Measure and cut as needed.
- Use the knee kicker to tighten up install
Placing the carpet in a position at the edge of one wall, with clearance to roll it out towards the other wall is critical. This allows the carpet to be unrolled. You to be able to cut the plastic and roll the carpet towards the other wall. This keeps it simple for you. Another important thing to do is continue to measure and cut. In most cases, it is advised to order anywhere from 6-12 inches more than measured simply because sometimes it is sold at a size slightly higher than needed. Also, think of it this way, once you cut it, it’s gone! So you don’t want to cut too much. Be conservative and in doing so, let’s say you didn’t cut enough and it’s a tight fit with excess carpet, now you can continue to adjust because you have something to work with.
How to stop carpet from bunching – the DIY way
At this point, once the carpet is rolled out and cut, you want to use the knee kicker to place the edges of the carpet in the gully. The gully is the space between the tack strip and the trim or wall of the room. In most cases there is a very small space underneath the wall or trim that you should work excess carpeting into after using the knee kicker.
After you have used the knee kicker, look at your room. Do you notice any bulging, frayed edges, is your carpet bunching? If so, use the knee kicker. Use the knee kicker while keeping in mind the need to move the bulge away from the specific location. This may require you to cut the edge and reduce the slack from the bulge but using the knee kicker and kicking towards the area you cut. Now, the bulge should be gone. Also, note that bulges can be created or removed based on temperature fluctuations. I recommend leaving the windows open if it is summer, fall or spring to account for the temperature and humidity, for a few days before knee kicking further.
Congratulations, you have completed your DIY Carpet Installation!
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