Buying Interest

Dear James: My children are getting older now, and it is probably time for some new wall-to-wall carpeting. If I can install it myself, I can afford to do all the rooms. Is this a job for a do-it-yourselfer? — John G.

Dear John: Although most carpeting is priced installed, you can save a bundle by installing it yourself. It is not a difficult task, but it does require attention to detail for a professional-looking job.

Renting a few specialty carpet installation tools at a local tool rental shop makes the job much easier. Actually, the most difficult part of the job will be dragging the heavy roll of carpeting indoors.

In order to save as much as possible, it is important to plan the installation to minimize the amount of scrap carpet and the amount that you have to buy. Most wall-to-wall carpeting comes in rolls from 12 feet to 15 feet wide.

Make a scale drawing of the floor plans of the rooms you want to re-carpet. Note the location of furniture, doors, etc. This will help you determine the areas of heaviest foot traffic. This is particularly important if the room is large enough to require more than one piece of carpeting. It is wise to always locate the seams in the areas of lightest traffic.

Once you rip up your old carpeting and padding, check the condition of the subfloors. Have one of your heaviest children walk over the floor. Nail the subfloor securely down to the joists if you hear any squeaks. If you have a basement, go into it and look up to see if the floor flexes anywhere when your child walks.

The first step in installing wall-to-wall carpeting is to nail down tack strips along the edges of the floor. These are thin, four-foot-long wooden strips with many sharp gripper tacks sticking up. The tacks in these strips dig into the back of the carpeting and hold it taut and securely to the floor. Space them out about two-thirds the thickness of the carpeting.

Cut and lay out the padding on the floor. It should cover the entire floor area. If you need more than one piece, butt the edges together and tape them with duct tape. Staple the padding to the subfloor about every foot along the edge of the tack strip. Use the utility knife to trim the edge of the padding so that it just touches the tack strip edge.

Measure the room carefully and add about 3 inches to determine the carpet size. Cut-pile carpeting is cut from the back and loop-pile from the front. To make seams, overlap two pieces of carpet. Cut along the edge of the top piece down through the bottom piece.

Lay a length of hot-melt seaming tape halfway under the edge of the two pieces. Hold up the edge of one piece of carpet and run the seaming iron under the other piece and over the tape. As you move the iron, have a helper press the carpet edges into the sticky tape.

Adjust the carpet so that it rests evenly on the floor. Use the knee kicker to attach the carpet to the tack strip in one corner and work your way across that edge. Brace the power stretcher against that wall and stretch the carpet toward the opposite wall. Attach the stretched carpet to the tack strip on the opposite end of the floor.

Trim the carpet along the wall with the utility knife. Use a screwdriver or putty knife to push the edge of the carpet down into the gap between the tack strip and the wall.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit