How to Lay Carpet with Tack Strips

  1. Step 1 Cut the Carpet (for Floors Requiring a Carpet Seam)

    Cut the Carpet (for Floors Requiring a Carpet Seam)

    Put the two pieces of carpet in the room, overlapping them by about 4 inches (4") with enough carpet to reach the walls with an extra 3 inches (3") on all sides. Snap a chalk line on the back of one piece to mark the location of the seam. Cut along the line with a carpet knife guided by a straightedge.

    Overlap the edges again. Double check that you still have enough carpet at the wall. Guide a row cutter against the edge you cut. The knife in the cutter will cut the other piece of carpet, creating two perfectly matched pieces.

  2. Step 2 Apply Seam Sealer and Seaming Tape (for Floors Requiring a Carpet Seam)

    Apply Seam Sealer and Seaming Tape (for Floors Requiring a Carpet Seam)

    Lay a bead of seam sealer along the carpet backing of one of the cut edges. Apply the sealer carefully to one edge only.

    With the sealer still wet, put a piece of 3 inches (3") wide hotmelt seaming tape along the entire length of the seam. Slip a board under the tape and melt the tape with a seaming iron, pushing the pieces into the adhesive before it cools. Move the board as you work to complete the entire seam. Clean up any stray seam sealer with a recommended cleaner.

  3. Step 3 Cut the Tackless Strips

    Don't let the name mislead you, tackless strips are thin, narrow pieces of wood that have two or three rows of closely spaced tacks that stick up out of the wood. They are made for concrete or wood and vinyl. 

    Cut the tackless strips to fit the perimeter of the room. At doorways, wrap the strips around the door frame but do not extend them across the opening. Position and nail the strips with the pins pointing toward the wall. Keep a space equal to about two-thirds (⅔) the thickness of the carpet between the walls and the strips, using a piece of carpet as a guide.

  4. Step 4 Lay the Pad

    Padding comes in 4-1/2 foot or 6 foot wide rolls. Keep in mind, a better quality pad offers a more comfortable surface, longer carpet life, better sound and energy insulation. Unroll the padding so the seams will be at right angles to those in the carpet. Trim padding flush with the inside contour of the tackless strip. Tape neighbouring pieces together with 2-3" masking tape. Fasten the pad to the wood subfloor with staples every 10-12" in each direction. A hammer stapler can speed up this process. If padding over a concrete floor, use adhesive. Work toward the tack strips, smoothing the pad and stapling. Staple the pad against the edge of the tack strip. Run a carpet knife against the strip to trim the pad.

  5. Step 5 Cut the Carpet

    Measure the room. Snap chalk lines across the back of the carpet to outline a piece that's 6 inches (6") longer and wider than the room. Put a piece of scrap wood under the layout lines of the carpet with the layout lines facing up. Use a straightedge to guide a carpet knife along each line. Change blades frequently.

  6. Step 6 Centre the Rough-cut and Seam the Carpet

    Centre the carpet in the room with the backing against the floor. Make relief cuts at the corners so the carpet lies flat. Cut from the top using a carpet knife. The trimmed edges of the carpet must be sealed with an appropriate seam adhesive immediately following trimming. When the seam adhesive is dry, the seaming can begin. The most commonly used seaming method uses adhesive coated fabric seaming tape. Use an electric seaming iron to melt the adhesive. Run the iron in the direction of the pile. Cleanly trim completed seams. When the hot melt seams are cool, stretching can begin.

  7. Step 7 Anchor the Long Wall

    At the long wall near a corner of the room, put the toothed end of a knee kicker in the carpet about one to three inches (1-3") from the wall. Push the padded end then push down with a stair tool to anchor the carpet on the tack strips. Using the stair tool, tuck the carpet between the tack strip and wall. Push, hook, anchor and tuck carpet along about three feet (3') of the wall. 

    Note: Renting a knee kicker and carpet stretcher is an economical option.

  8. Step 8 Anchor the Short Wall

    Repeat on the short wall of the same corner. Push the carpet over the tack strips with the knee kicker, and anchor and tuck the carpet with the stair tool. Anchor and tuck the carpet along about three feet (3') of the wall.

  9. Step 9 Power Stretch the First Corner

    Put the foot of the power stretcher against a 2×4 or 2×6 laid against the short wall of the starting corner. The 2×4 protects the wall from damage and should be about 48" long and padded with a piece of scrap carpet. Run the stretcher at about a 15-degree angle toward the opposite corner. Set the head of the stretcher about 6" from the wall. 

    Push on the handle to stretch the carpet about 1 to 1-1/2 percent. This translates to between 1-1/4 and 1-3/4 inches over a 10-foot span and is the amount of stretch you want each time you power-stretch. 

    Hook, anchor, and tuck the carpet along about 3 feet of both of the corner walls.

  10. Step 10 Anchor the Long Wall

    With the knee kicker, push the carpet against the long wall between the two installed corners. Anchor and tuck with the stair tool.

  11. Step 11 Power Stretch the Second Corner

    Put the foot of the stretcher against the 2×4 and the long wall of the starting corner. Run the stretcher at about a 15-degree angle to the corner, as shown. Stretch, anchor, and tuck the carpet along about 3 feet of both walls that form the corner.

  12. Step 12 Anchor the Short Wall

    Use the knee kicker to push the carpet against the short wall, attaching it to the tack strips. Anchor and tuck, then work your way along the short wall, pushing and attaching the carpet as you go. 

    In a large room a power stretcher may be unable to reach from wall to wall. Use a "deadman." Nail two lengths of tack strip to the face of a 2×10 with the teeth facing the same way. Put the teeth of the strip into the carpet and have a helper stand on the 2×10. Put the foot of the stretcher against the deadman and push against it.

  13. Step 13 Power Stretch the Opposite Long Wall

    Power-stretch from the long wall of the starting corner to the opposite long wall, running the stretcher at about a 15-degree angle. Hook, anchor and tuck the carpet over the tack strips near the head of the stretcher. Moving the stretcher along the wall, stretch, hook, anchor and tuck the carpet section by section.

  14. Step 14 Power Stretch the Remaining Corner

    Power-stretch from the short wall of the starting corner, running the stretcher straight across the room. Attach the carpet to the tack strips, tuck it between the strips and the wall then work your way across the wall with the knee kicker as shown in Step 13.

  15. Step 15 Anchor the Last Wall

    Attach the carpet along the last wall. Push it into place with the kicker; anchor and tuck it with the stair tool.

  16. Step 16 Trim the Carpet at the Wall

    Set a wall trimmer to the thickness of the carpet and guide it along the wall to trim the edges of the carpet. Tuck the cut edges into the space between the strips and the wall using a plastic broad knife. Vacuum the carpet.

  17. Step 17 Install Transitions

    Install transition mouldings wherever the carpet meets other flooring. A binder bar, shown here, is most commonly used. Seal the edge of the carpet with latex seam sealer to prevent unravelling. Nail the binder bar to the floor and push with the kicker to fit the carpet over the hooks in the binder bar. When the carpet's in place, hit the bar with a rubber mallet, or put a block of wood over the bar to protect it and hammer the flange closed.


What You Need for This Project

Related Resources