Without a carpet, a room simply doesn’t feel finished. You’d be amazed how empty and lifeless an otherwise incredibly well-equipped room can feel when stripped of its carpeting. As such, carpet fitting is a very in-demand skill and don’t be under any illusion, it’s definitely a skill! You might find yourself asking – can I fit a carpet myself?
Whilst it might indeed be possible to fit a carpet yourself if you have ample DIY experience, we would always recommend using a professional. Ask yourself two more questions – how much does it cost to fit a carpet? and how long does it take to fit a carpet? If the answer to either question feels daunting in any way, you might be better off calling in the experts. Carpet is expensive, after all, and making a mistake can be costly or even worse, leave your room looking dishevelled.
If you think you have what it takes though, we’re here to help. Even if you’re using a professional, it’s also always beneficial for homeowners to know the process inside and out if they want to make sure they are getting the best quality service.
Tools for Fitting Carpet
They say that a poor worker always blames their tools, but if you don’t have the right carpet fitting tools in the first place then completing the job to an adequate standard simply won’t be possible. Note that the majority of these tools you might in all likelihood already have in your toolbox, but any missing pieces can also be picked up from any major DIY store.
The tools needed for carpet fitting include:
Carpet Knee Kicker (Carpet Stretcher) – This is a specialist tool used to stretch the carpet tight and prevent any bubbles and imperfections from popping up.
Carpet Bolster – Working in a similar manner to an electricians bolster, this implement is a blunt tool with a round edge that’s used to tuck the carpet down. For that reason, it’s also often referred to as a “carpet tucker.”
Measuring Equipment – A tape measure, pencils, double sided tape and a notepad will need to be used in order to make sure the measurements match up exactly and you’re left with the least possible amount of waste.
Knee Pads – You’ll be doing a lot of kneeling, so you’ll want to make sure your knees are adequately protected, particularly given the number of rogue nails that might be lying in wait.
Stanley Knife – Make sure you have a decent knife with a good amount of fresh blades as you will undoubtedly go through them, particularly if it’s your first time. Also, make sure you’re equipped with a decent pair of gloves for protection. Gloves might not seem like a typical carpet fitting tool, but they are a crucial aspect if you don’t want to injure yourself.
Hacksaw – For cutting the door threshold bar to size.
Pip and Wire Detector – A device used to check floorboards for wires and heating pipes.
How to Prepare for Carpet Fitting
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. It’s an old adage, but it’s certainly apt here. So sit back, relax and let us take you on a step by step journey through the preparations stage.
- Measuring – The very first step before even buying the carpet itself is to measure. To give yourself an idea of the amount of carpet needed, measure the width and length of the room at its widest points and multiply the measurements for a rough idea of the number of square metres needed. Don’t worry if you are a bit over as you’ll need enough to fit under the door threshold anyway, which will add at least 5cm to the measurements. In fact, always include a little extra where possible. There will always be offcuts and those offcuts are great to practice with anyway!
- Choosing – Whether you’re looking for a deep or shallow carpet; a coarse or firm carpet; a bright or dull carpet; a wool or nylon blend – the choices are endless and the prices will vary drastically depending on the quality of the material. You’ll also need to choose the underlay, but that’s a much less complicated choice – there’s thicker or thinner underlay and aesthetically, you won’t be seeing it anyway.
- Cleaning – Make sure the old carpet and underlay is out of the way and disposed of and if you’re re-carpeting and that the room is clear of all furniture. Also, give the floor a decent clear before getting started. Whilst you have a bare floor in front of you, take advantage by making any minor repairs as you don’t know when you’ll get this chance again. Also make sure the room is well ventilated, as there will be lots of excess dust flying around.
How to Fit a Carpet Gripper
Carpet grip is a pre-nailed piece of wood that, as the name suggests, exists to grip your carpet to the floor and keep it taut. If the carpet gripper for your old carpet is still intact and in good condition then you might be happy to leave it in place.
If you are carpeting a new room, or the old carpet gripper is falling apart, however, you’ll first need to remove the remnants of the old grip. This can be done by wedging a flat bald or screwdriver under the grip and pulling it upwards. Be careful not to pull away any of the floorboards with it though!
Once the old grip is out of the way, measure how much grip you’ll need. The grip should be laid around the entire perimeter of the room around 12mm (half an inch) from the boundaries of the room. Carpet gripper fitting isn’t too difficult, but you need to be precise with where you lay the strips and make sure the floor is free of any debris.
Also, note that heating pipes are often laid in joists just below the floorboards, so locate any pipes or wires before you start using a pipe and wire detector. Also, make sure the nails are always angled towards the wall.
How to Fit Carpet Underlay
You might be asking – why use underlay for carpet? Isn’t the carpet comfortable enough? However, without a decent underlay, your carpet simply won’t feel as good and whilst it’s something that’s often overlooked, you’ll be amazed what spending a little more on a really soft and comfortable underlay will do. Note, however, that fitting carpet without underlay is possible if you already have a decent underlay installed, prefer the feeling without it or have purchased felt back carpet. If this is the case, skip to the next section
There are a number of different types of underlay, ranging from underfloor heating underlay (for homes with underfloor heating, which is built with pockets to allow for circulation) to wood floor underlay, laminate underlay and carpet underlay. For carpet, you’re obviously going to want to opt for carpet underlay unless your floor is heated.
- If you’re using lining paper, roll it out and staple it to the floor, fixing the edges with adhesive.
- Lay the underlay with the rubber side down, using your knife to trim it so it sits level with the gripper.
- Use carpet tape to make joins in the sheets and make sure you keep it straight and free of gaps. Staple along the edges inside the gripper, using adhesive if you’re fixing to a concrete floor.
- Cut the underlay around all recesses, including doorways. If you need to add extra pieces to keep it flat, don’t hesitate.
- Trim any excess inside the grippers and throw it to one side. Now you’re ready for the main event!
How to Fit a Carpet
- Lay the carpet, starting with a piece that overlaps the edge of the floor by at least a few inches. This can be easily trimmed. Stand in one corner with one foot and use the other to smooth it out bit by bit, always remembering to leave some excess on the edges.
- Cut the excess vertically and trim the triangles that overlap.
- Start from the longest wall using your bolster to create a fold line and tuck your carpet in.
- Take your knife and cut along the edge just above the surface of the carpet, holding it to the floor whilst cutting.
- Use the knee kicker (with the padded end on your knees) to press the carpet firmly onto the gripper at all sides and edges.
- Use the bolster to push the excess carpet between the gripper and the skirting then rinse and repeat until you’re all done.
- Finally, work your way around the room, stretching the carpet over the strips to make sure it’s sitting flush and trim any excess parts.
- Fitting across a doorway can be tricky, but make sure it’s in line with the next room’s flooring before you fit the threshold.
How to Fit a Door Threshold
- Fitting a door threshold (or a door bar) is the final and perhaps most straightforward part of the process. They exist to join different kinds of flooring without looking messy.
- The right location for the bar should be in the centre of the doorway, so it wasn’t be seen on either side with there door closed. Once you’ve found your position, cut it to size using a hacksaw.
- Use a pipe and wire detector before drilling or screwing just in case!
- On a wooden floor, screw the bar to the floor after making some small pilot holes. For a concrete floor, you’ll need to use a masonry bit.
Note that in the days after a fitting your carpet will start to lose some fibres, but this is completely natural so don’t panic! Just vacuum regularly and soon enough you’ll be left with a gorgeous, fresh carpet that will be the envy of all your home-owning friends!