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How To Install Carpet | Tools & Supplies

By Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate

 

My free Carpet articles are designed to help consumers tackle various home improvement jobs with some professional advice and instruction.

 

Tools and Supplies

 

When I refer to carpet installers as "him" or "his" please note that it is not a gender thing and I mean no disrespect towards women. I'm just a bit lazy and it saves me time by not having to write "his or her" to be politically correct.

 

So you want to be a carpet installer? Or perhaps you just want to install your own carpet to save some money. This condensed version of How to Install Carpet, might work for you, or it might not. The question is, are you mechanically inclined and do you have the ability to do just about anything if you receive the proper instructions? Let's Find Out.

 

Some would say it is not a good idea for consumers to try to install their own carpet. Personally, I know a lot of very talented people who have the ability to learn on the go and can do whatever it takes to get the job done. So in my opinion, if you want to be a carpet installer for a day, a week or for the rest of your life I say it's worth giving it a shot. 

 

Some call them carpet layers, some call them carpet fitters. Either way, installing carpet is hard work and requires mastering many skills in order to do it right. I installed carpet for about 30 years and even though I was trained by master mechanics who were at the top of their game, I have found that there are many different methods to get the job done. So if you don't like the way I tell you how to do it, do it the way you think it should be done to make it easier, smarter, faster or better. 

 

It seems that every carpet installer has his own unique style of carpet installation. Every carpet installer has his own special tricks of the trade that make him special and unique. I want you to understand this because no matter how I tell you to install carpet there will be plenty of installers telling you that my methods are wrong or that their carpet installation methods are better for some reason. There is a lot of ego in the hearts of many carpet installers and unwarranted strife between camps. I'm sure I'll get some nasty emails for writing my version of how to lay carpet, but for now lets just get to the meat of the matter and let the crumbs fall where they will. You want to know how to install carpet and I'm going to do my best to tell you what you need to learn in order to do the job right. 

 

The necessary tools of the carpet layer's trade.

 

I'm going to give you a rundown of the common carpet laying tools. There are several key tools that every installer needs and a whole bunch of accessory tools that you can use if you want or need to. It seems that many old carpet layers sit around at night designing new tools for the trade. Some new tool designs are very useful but the vast majority of new and improved carpet tools I've seen through the years have been a waste of time and money. 

 

I'm going to focus on the tools that are most common and let you sort out the long list of optional accessory tools on your own. 

 

Must have carpet tools:

  • Knee kicker - The knee is used to position carpet and install carpet, and to stretch carpet in certain areas where a power stretcher cannot reach.

  • Power stretcher - uses leverage to stretch carpet tightly over tack-less strips.

  • Straight-edge - used to make straight cuts, especially for preparing two carpet edges to be seamed together

  • Carpenter's square - for making accurate 90 degree cuts

  • Wall trimmer - trims carpet flush with the wall

  • Carpet knife or utility knife - handheld tool used to cut carpet.

  • Stair tool - used with a hammer or rubber mallet to install carpet on stairs

  • Seaming iron- there are three types of seaming iron available. The standard 4" and 6" hot melt types, and the newer and more expensive microwave type that requires special and more expensive seaming tape. 

  • Tractor - carpet seaming tool used to set carpet into hot melt glue during the seaming process. 

  • Nap scissors - used to trim and beautify seams and upholstery work and loose carpet strings or fibers

  • The electric tacker - shoots a slender staple to affix carpet on stairs or other upholstery work

  • Hand roller - used for glue down carpet.

  • 100# carpet roller - stand-up tool used for glue down carpet applications

  • Tackstrip cutters

  • Tool pouch - typically holds your carpet knife, pliers, screwdriver or small spatula

  • Kneepads - a must have if you want to be able to walk without using crutches later in life. 

 

Most carpet installers carry a host of power tools to do floor repairs and install under-layment when necessary:

  • Circular Saw

  • Jamb saw

  • Reciprocating saw

  • Saws-all

  • Table saw

  • Air compressor

  • Pneumatic nailing guns and staplers

  • Electric drill

  • Electric orbital sander

  • Belt sander

 

There are a lot of regular tools that every carpet installer requires including:

  • Hammers

  • Screwdrivers

  • Pliers and wrenches

  • Hack saw

  • Spatula

  • Metal snips

  • Magnetic nail driver

  • Rubber mallet

  • Trowels - many types for various purposes.

  • Floor scrapers

  • Hot glue gun

  • Caulking gun

  • Cove base glue gun

  • Pry bar

 

There are a lot of various sundries and supplies that every carpet installer must keep on hand.

 

Nails:

  • Blue nails- for reinforcing tack-less strips

  • Ring shank nails- fastening wood sub-floors and underlayment.

  • Concrete nails- installing metal transitions to concrete floors

  • Silver and gold screw nails- for fastening metal flat-bar transitions

  • Acoustical nails - these special hardened screw nails are longer and used for installing tack-less strips on gypsum sub-floors.

 

Screws:

  • Wood screws- Various sizes are used for fastening sub-flooring and underlayment and other general purposes.

 

Transition metals (standard colors are silver and gold):

  • Clampdown (also called tap down or Nap-lock)

  • Articulated clampdown - can be installed in a curve

  • Flat-bar - (gold or silver)

  • T-insert (for track and rubber insert applications)

  • Z-bar (used when no metal is to be visible)

 

Rubber Reducer Strips for Carpet Transitions:

  • Various colors, types, sizes and styles are available. Typically glued down with contact cement. 

 

Carpet Blades:

  • utility blades

  • carpet blades

  • scraper blades

  • tackstrip cutter replacement blades

  • trimmer blades

 

Carpet Seaming Tape:

  • 4-inch standard seaming tape (industry standard) 66 feet per roll. Various brands and grades are available. 

  • 6-inch seaming tape (for use with 6-inch seaming irons)

  • Microwave seaming tape (a special seam tape for use with microwave irons only)


Carpet Adhesives and Seam Sealants

  • Carpet glue

  • Seam sealer

  • Cove base adhesive

  • Silicone caulk

  • Rubber cement

  • Contact cement

  • Latex adhesive

 

Tack-less strips (tackstrip):

 

Tack-less strips are four feet long and come 100 strips to a box (400 lineal feet per box) They come pre-nailed with either concrete, wood or acoustical nails.

 

 

Other Useful Carpet Installation Items:

 

  • Empty buckets/containers are used to carry small tools and supplies and to mix floor patching compounds.

  • Duct tape - 1001 uses. Always a handy product to have.

  • Floor patching compound repairs cracks and holes. Smoothes out uneven underlayment and concrete floors. 

  • Floor patch additives are used in lieu of water with dry floor patching compounds to achieve added strength and bonding properties. This is white milky-like liquid that comes in gallon-sized containers.

 

 

Where to Buy Carpet Tools and Supplies:

 

Where you buy your tools and supplies can be important if you want to save money and get good quality materials. 

 

Most basic carpet supplies are available at Home Depot or Lowe's home improvement stores or any local hardware store, but the selection will be limited. If you want a better selection or specialized items like Power Stretchers you need to shop at a flooring distributor. 

 

You can find these in the yellow pages under the heading of carpet sundries, carpet supplies, or flooring distributors. Most of these places will sell to the general public and their prices are reasonable. 

 

If you need larger quantities of certain items like glue, patching compounds, transition metals or tack-less strips they are usually willing to give you special pricing.

 

This is a lot of tools and supplies to have on hand. Now you know why carpet installers typically have long full-sized vans. It helps keep the carpet dry and carries a lot of stuff.

 

Learn more about Carpet Installation Cost

 

Continued...

 

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