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Carpet Fitting – How to Get Great Results Every Time

Carpet is a fantastic choice if you are looking to absorb sound and add insulation to a room. It can also add colour to an otherwise bland space. Carpet is suitable for many types of room and it can be particularly good for sound proofing kid’s bedrooms and for making living rooms feel warmer. So, how on earth do you about laying new carpet? Carpet fitting is not the easiest D.I.Y. task to master, but don’t panic, we are here to help! Learn how to lay carpet like a pro with our top tips and step-by-step guide.

What Tools Will I Need for Carpet Fitting?

  • Your choice of carpet
  • Lining paper
  • A suitable underlay
  • Carpet gripper strips
  • Craft knife
  • Staple gun
  • Tape measure
  • Knee kicker
  • Carpet stretcher
  • A vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaner on a blue carpet

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What Type of Carpet Is Right for Me?

Buying carpet can be a very confusing process as there are so many types available. They all have different properties and benefits, so it’s important to choose the right option for your project. Before you start your carpet fitting project, familiarise yourself with the carpeting options on the market.

Textured

Look and Feel: This is a soft carpet that looks good in most homes. It looks more casual than Saxony carpet. Ideal for bedrooms and living rooms.

Key Benefits: Perfect for families and children’s bedrooms as it can withstand wear and tear and dirt well.

Loop Pile Yarn

Look and Feel: Not as soft as other options. However, if you are looking for a practical option, this could be a good choice.

Key Benefits: This is a highly durable style of carpet that will be able to withstand a lot of footfall over an extended period of time.

Level Loop/Berber

Look and Feel: A dense, very smooth style of carpet.

Key Benefits: It is very easy to maintain and keep clean because it resists staining. It will work well in homes with children and pets.

Saxony

Look and Feel: This style is often seen as one of the most luxurious options on the market. It feels incredibly soft.

Key Benefits: The thickness of this style makes it hard wearing and it looks very attractive in most rooms.

Saxony carpet

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Step 1. Measure Your Room and Clean the Floor

Before you can do anything else, you will need to find out the size of your room. You can work out the area by multiplying the length and the width of the room. Most carpets in the UK are sold in metres squared, so you can use this figure to determine how much carpet you will need to buy. Always make sure that you purchase more carpet than you think you will need (around 10-15 percent should be enough) just in case you make any mistakes.

Make sure that the sub-floor is completely secured before you start. The floor panels might be dusty, so vacuum the area thoroughly. Once you have swept away the dirt it’s time to start carpet fitting!

Carpet Grippers

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Step 2. Install Your Carpet Grippers

Carpet grippers are thin strips of wood with very sharp pins on one side. They are used to keep your carpet securely in place. Carpet grippers need to be placed around the perimeter of the wall, avoiding any doorways. Do this by laying the strips end to end around the room that you intend to carpet. The pins need to be pointed upwards. Leave a small gap between the wall and the carpet gripper strip that you are installing.

Carpet gripper installation can be hazardous. The nails are very sharp, so it is a good idea to wear gloves and eye protection when you are handling the strips.

Sponge underlay

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Step 3. Lay Your Lining Paper

One of the most important parts of carpet fitting is installing the right underlay. If you get your underlay right, your carpet will last significantly longer. Underlay can also improve the look and feel of your carpet as it helps to prevent any dirt from the floor boards from sinking through into the carpet.

Most home improvement shops sell lining paper, or if you are looking for a cheap alternative, you could use old newspaper. Lay the sheets of paper across the whole of the area that you want to carpet. You can secure the paper using a staple gun or a mount spray. If the area you are laying the carpet across is wide, you may need multiple sheets of paper. Make sure that the sheets slightly overlap as you go along to prevent them from coming away from the floor.

Step 4. Choose the Correct Underlay

There are many forms of underlay available, so it’s vital that you choose the correct option for your job. If you choose the wrong type of underlay, you may significantly shorten the lifespan of your carpet. Below is a list of the most common types of underlay and what their main properties and benefits are.

Sponge Rubber

What is it made of? Sponge rubber is one of the most commonly used types of underlay. It is made of rubber and it contains small holes.

Key benefits: It works well in lots of settings because it is a hard wearing material that also retains its flexibility. Sponge rubber is often available in several grades, which means that you can choose the type that is right for your budget.

PU Foam Underlay

What is it made from? PU foam underlay is made from recycled furniture foam. This makes it a good option if you are looking for an environmentally conscious choice.

Key benefits: PU Foam is a fantastic choice if you need heat and sound insulation. For flats and apartments, it can work particularly well. Like sponge rubber underlay, you will find that PU foam comes in a range of thicknesses. The thicker the underlay the more expensive it will be.

Crumb Rubber Underlay

What is it made of? Crumb rubber underlay is made from recycled car tyres.

Key benefits: Crumb rubber underlay is recycled so it is an environmentally friendly option. It is more durable than sponge rubber underlay. Its hard-wearing nature makes it the ideal choice for areas that receive high footfall, especially staircases. If you have heavy furniture, it is also an ideal choice, as it can withstand any dents that may be produced.

Combination underlay is also available, and it tends to be a good choice if you need an underlay with a combination of the properties mentioned above.

Carpet underlay installation

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Step 5. Install Your Underlay

Install your underlay by laying it out in strips across the area that you intend to carpet. When you are initially laying the underlay, make sure that it covers the carpet gripper strips along the perimeter of the floor. The underlay strips need to lie against each other, but make sure that they do not overlap.

Use your staple gun to attach the underlay to the floor. Make sure that you staple along the inside edge of the carpet gripper strips. It’s important to make sure that you staple all the way along the edge to ensure that your underlay is secured properly. You will then need to remove the excess underlay with a craft knife. The seams can be sealed using strong tape.

Carpet overlap across a seam

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Step 6. Cut Your Carpet to Size

Now it’s time to measure and cut your carpet to the right size. You should already have measured the area of the floor, so you can use this figure when you are laying out the carpet ready for installation. Start on one side of the room along the longest wall. Take your first piece of carpet, and make sure that you cut it to be slightly too wide (around an extra 4 inches should be enough). You can easily trim the excess carpet when you have finished laying the carpet.

If you need to cut your carpet into sections to make it fit properly, you can cut it directly on the floor to check that the measurements are correct. All you need to do is put down some cardboard before you begin. This will protect your underlay and lining paper from your utility knife. Use a pencil to mark the point you need to cut on the underside of the carpet. Make sure that you use a sharp knife to whenever you need to cut the carpet, otherwise, you might damage it.

Step 7. How to Lay Two Pieces of Carpet Together

Carpet fitting can get slightly trickier when it comes to joining together two pieces of carpet. It’s important to match up the seams of the carpet panels, otherwise, this can throw off the whole look and finish of your carpet. One of the key things that you must remember is to make sure that the pile of the carpet matches the piece that is adjacent to it.

You can do this by adding an extra 4 inches of carpet to the width of the second piece, just like you did when you lined the first piece up against the wall. If this second piece of carpet is wide enough to reach the other wall, you need to make sure that the piece has an extra 4 inches of material on both sides.

Once the parallel pieces of carpet have been overlapped, you need to take a utility knife and cut through the excess carpet. This should leave you with a beautifully joined carpet and the visible seams should be minimal.

After you have cut through the excess carpet, you can join the pieces together. The quickest and cleanest way to do this is to use specialist seaming tape. Take a length of the tape and press it along the join between the two pieces of carpet. Often, these tapes are heat activated. Once you are confident with your placing, you can roll along the join with a seaming iron.

Step 8. Finishing Touches

The final step in the carpet fitting process is to make sure your carpet is fully attached. You will need to use a knee kicker to complete the job. A knee kicker is a heavy metal tool with teeth on one end and a padded side on the other end. To use the knee kicker, simply push your knee into the padded end, while the metal teeth are positioned approximately three inches away from the wall. This motion should stretch your newly applied carpet across the carpet grippers that you previously placed along the perimeter of the wall.

You then need to use a carpet stretched to finish off the process. It works in a similar way to the knee kicker. You’ll need to place one end of the carpet stretcher against the wall. The other end should be around six inches away from the furthest wall. When you are pushing down on a carpet stretcher, the teeth of the tool will stretch the material across the carpet gripper strips that are lined up against the furthest wall.

Once the carpet is stretched, that’s it. You’re now a carpet fitting pro!

Further Reading

We hope that you learnt a lot from our guide to carpet fitting and installation. If you are looking for more fun D.I.Y. projects to master at home, we have a lot of options for you! Whether you are interested in flooring, painting and decorating, or plastering, we have a comprehensive guide to help you to get started. Just click the links below to discover how you can master more home improvement projects.

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