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How to Install Carpet Pad

Knowing how to install carpet pad doesn't mean you'll be doing the job; you may choose to supervise it. But with the know-how under your belt, you can hire qualified workers so you get a top-notch job done on your new carpet and padding.

Laying carpet correctly is a big job. Part of the success of the job comes from selecting quality caret and carpet padding, as well as doing the preparation well. One step many people underestimate the importance of is how to install carpet pad.

For new carpet to last you have to buy quality carpet that's durable and will hold up to the daily wear and tear, buy quality padding, and install both correctly. If you skimp on any one of those steps, you may be disappointed in having your carpet look bad quickly, and not wear for many years. For this article, let's talk most about how to install carpet pad.

First, prepare your floors. Clean the subsurface of dust, dirt, debris, trash and spots so the pad doesn't get dirty, which will effect the carpet too. Carpet can be installed over almost any surface -- cement, wood, linoleum, vinyl or even stone (though I don't know why you'd want to do that!) with proper preparation.

Once the floor is clean it's time to install tack strips (also called tackless strips in some areas) need to be installed next. The tack strip goes around the perimeter of the room, except in front of doorways, being nailed at about 8-12 inch intervals. The pins should point toward the walls about 1/4-1/2 inch between the wall and the strips. Nail the tack strips to your floor so you have something to attach the carpeting to. If you have masonry floors, then the tackless strips may have to be glued down to install the carpeting; at the very least masonry nails will be needed.

Now it's time to install the carpet pad. The carpet padding is an important part of the carpeting installation process, because it can make the carpeting more comfortable and more durable. The waffle side of the carpeting needs to face up for maximum cushioning and it is cut to fit inside the tackless strips. Padding can be either stapled or glued. If you go the stapling route, staple it every six inches. If you are gluing it, as you would especially want to do on cement, select a low VOC (volatile organic compound) glue so you don't pollute your indoor air.

Cut the carpet pad to roughly the right size and then trim the pad to be just short of the tack strip. You want to have the padding away from the tack strip a little so that when you stretch the carpet the padding doesn't ride up onto the tack strip, interfering with proper carpet installation. Carpet padding pieces should be butted together, as you lay them down, rather than laid on top of each other for maximum durability and comfort. Tape any seams to keep the padding from creeping or shifting under the carpet.

To finish the job, and the article, it's time to lay the carpeting. This process takes skill and effort to ensure that the carpeting is tight and properly installed. Cut your carpet to fit the room area with some excess to hold on to so you can stretch the carpet fully. Use your seam tape and iron to connect the seams. A knee kicker grabs the carpeting and firmly places it on the tack strips. Now it is time to use the power stretcher to tightly stretch the carpeting to the wall. In doorways, you will use a gripper edge to keep the carpet in place when the doors rub against it. Once the carpet is in place, you can move in the furniture and enjoy your room.

Learning how to install carpet padding is important even if you are having it installed by a professional. You now know something about the proper process so you can determine if your carpet installer is doing it correctly. Knowledge is power, and you can ensure a great carpet installation now.

Comments

I found the article helpful. I was wondering, if once the carpet is in place,should there always be a crunch sound around the whole border of the room? I had carpet installed four months ago and it seems to keep pulling up around a certain corner even if they keep stretching it. The edges crackle when you step on them.I was told this could mean the tack strips are not right.

Shelley Healy at August 2, 2007 5:22 PM

Crackling Carpet; that may be the newest in flooring options! And juts think, you were the first to report it.

No, carpet edges shouldn't crackle when you walk on them, and the carpet shouldn't keep pulling up either. I'd agree with the proposal the carpet strips are a part of the problem. Or, the padding could be covering the tacks so the carpet isn't being held.

The crackling puzzles me. Again, it could be the padding on the tack strips and crackling as you step on them, though I'd think it would be hard to walk where there are tack strips.

There could be a problem with the seaming too. The tape that holds the edges together could be brittle and crackle, though I've personally not heard of that before. The seaming could have been done at too high a heat, melting the fibers rather than fusing them (a difference of degree).

If your flooring installer can't seem to give you answers you are content with, is it worth bringing someone else in to give you an opinion?

Good luck. And report back what you find.

The Flooring Lady at August 2, 2007 5:36 PM

I had a new carpet installed over concrete flooring. Was he supposed to GLUE before putting down the padding??

gail at August 31, 2007 7:58 AM

The padding needs to be attached to the concrete in some fashion so it doesn't move around underneath the carpet. An adhesive around the edges is one way, though it may not do enough to keep the padding from moving. Or adhesive underneath the entire length of padding strips will keep the padding from moving.

What did he do?

The Flooring Lady at August 31, 2007 8:13 AM

Am I supposed to install tack strip at the edges of doorways? I know not to put it across the doorway, but what about at either end of the door opening; the 4 or 5 inches that make up the thickness of the walls.

John at October 22, 2007 8:32 AM

I've seen tack strips used in the doorway, along the framing, and I've seen it not used there too. You want to hold the carpet down so it's not shifting with time and use. Doorways are busy areas so need support for the carpet.

The Flooring Lady at October 26, 2007 7:46 AM

I stappled the 1/2 padding around the wall area of the room. The floor is old tounge and grovve.
Do i need to staple in the field area?
What would be the spacing and how long of a stapple should be used?
thank you don

don nap at August 31, 2008 4:35 AM

Why did you staple it? (see article above)

The Flooring Lady at August 31, 2008 12:24 PM

We just installed tile in our previously-carpeted bathroom. Now I'm looking for a litle help in how to secure the carpet edge from the hallway (which we cut when we removed the bathroom carpet) to the new tile edge. This is in a doorway. Do you have any advice? Thanks.

Tammy at September 2, 2008 12:35 PM

Hi Tammy,
All you need is a threshold strip - there are different kinds for different needs. It depends on if the two areas are level with each other. If you go to your local Lowe's, Home Depot, etc., they'll be able to fix you right up. They come in a variety of widths and materials (wood, metal, etc.), so try to get an idea of how wide you want it to be and what color or material. Be sure to tell whoever helps you that it's for adjoining areas that are ceramic & carpet. Make sure to measure the difference in the height of the floors (without the carpet) if applicable.

The Flooring Lady at September 2, 2008 11:07 PM

I'm getting ready to replace carpet in a room that has had little traffic. Is new padding required? Can the tack strips be reused?

Wendy at September 8, 2008 11:56 AM

Hi Wendy,

Maybe and maybe......... depends on what condition the carpet pad is in. If it's still holding together well and springs back after stepping on it, it might be ok. Really hard for me to tell you for sure since I can't see & feel it. As a general rule though, it's usually a good idea to replace the carpet pad, unless the old carpeting is relatively new. (like a couple years old)

Tack strips can be reused so long as the tacks aren't bent over.

Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at September 8, 2008 10:50 PM

I, in the process of replacing just about every floor in my house. I installed hardwood in some areas tile in others and some areas with carpet. My question is, the hardwood is 3/4" and the tile with new subfloor is about 1/2", I was thinking it would be a good idea to lay down a layer of 1/4" subfloor on the areas that will be carpeted to help with the floor height but Im not sure if in the end with carpet installed it'll end up being the height I expect it to be. Any advice? How high is carpet after its installed?

Kevin at September 19, 2008 6:57 AM

Hi Kevin,
It's always a good idea to have the floors an equal height before hand. So, yep, probably a good idea to put down that 1/4" subfloor. ;~) Kudos to you for using your noggin.

The Flooring Lady at September 20, 2008 2:17 PM

Hi, my name is Alecia, I was curious on what you would put in between doorways because I have tiles in my kitchen and I am about to get carpet in my living room. What would I do to divide the two different floorings? Do you have any suggestions? Thank you.

Alecia at October 5, 2008 7:03 PM

Hi Alicia,

You'd need something along the lines of a piece of t-molding or a reducer. It depends on if the floors of the two rooms are the same height or not. If you go to your local home improvement store and already know which one you'd need, they'll be able to help you.

The Flooring Lady at October 6, 2008 8:27 AM

I just bought a carpet padding, high grade, with an odor eater film attached to one side. The pad is 1/2 inch, the film is blue. Which side goes down?

Kim at October 25, 2008 2:54 PM

Hi Kim,
If it's Carpenter Co.'s Odor-Eaters Carpet Cushion System then the film goes on the top.

From their website: "The system combines two bonded cushions with a spill-proof laminate film that prevents liquids from saturating the cushion where they can harbor odors and damage the subfloor. The laminate is treated to release natural enzymes that eliminate odors. The second part of the system is Odor-Eaters Odor and Stain Remover for Carpet, sold in a 32-oz. spray bottle. It treats spills at the top of the surface that don't penetrate the carpet backing. An easy way to quickly clean spills and keep your carpet looking beautiful."

The Flooring Lady at October 25, 2008 10:52 PM

I have concrete floors and driving a masonry nail in is next to impossible for me. What can I use to hold the threshold strip to the floor that will hold the carpet at a doorway?

Amy at November 14, 2008 7:56 PM

Hi Amy,
You could try using some sort of flooring adhesive. Do you have anybody who can nail the threshold strip for you?

The Flooring Lady at November 15, 2008 8:12 PM

we had rubber carpet padding for my living room and stairs just put in. the installer put the waffle side facing the wood floor and the straight side which had a moisture block protection facing up is that the right way?

also when he did the stairs he did not round the steps with the padding so when i climb the stairs and walk on the edges it feals a little hard was this done correctly?

thanks

ark at February 26, 2009 5:11 PM

Hi Ark,
The waffle side is supposed to face up - as stated in the article.

As far as the stairs, sometimes padding is not put on outer edges, sometimes it is. It is usually a personal preference.

The Flooring Lady at February 27, 2009 11:06 AM

I have a thinner wool carpet on a thinner pad in the bedroom and a thicker nylon carpet with thicker pad in the hall. Should I install a layer of subfloor in the bedroom to bring the carpets to the same height? Also, how do I seam the two different height carpets at the doorway so that they lay at the same height? Is it okay for the seam to lie over the transition between heights in the doorway after laying the subfloor?

Thanks a lot.

TheOx at March 8, 2009 9:58 PM

Hi Ox,
How big of a height difference do you have? If it's not too big of a difference, you could might be able to use a thicker pad in the bedroom and/or a thinner pad in the hall, though intalling a layer of subfloor can work well too if the joists can support the extra weight (if applicable). Most of the time, just use a joiner carpet bar. Carpet seam tape is what is used to seam any two pieces of carpeting. You can use either the glue type that you have to heat the glue to get it to bond or the pressure-sensitive type, carpet edges can also be tucked under.

The Flooring Lady at March 11, 2009 2:39 PM

Hi
My Fiance and I are having a disagreement as whether or not to have carpet professionally installed. Our livingroom is a total of 12 x 19 from the patio door to the wall. We are only carpeting with padding 12 x 15. My Fiancee says that he was told that they will lay the carpet and roll the edges under so the carpeting will look very neat. I can not understand that. I think that is impossible I think that we should just buy the carpet 12 x 15 and lay it on the floor with out padding because if we buy padding then the carpet will be too high off the floor and it will look silly. We just layed a wood look linoleum in our dining area and up to the front door which looks great so now all we need to do is lay the carpet in the living room which will extend a little less than one foot over the lineolum on each side. How will my fiance way look good with padding and rolled under? I hope you can help because I am so confused and I say why spend all that money if we do not need to.
Thank you so much

Sharon at March 24, 2009 8:46 AM

Hi Sharon,
Sorry, but you're fiance is correct - carpeting can be rolled under at the edges to create a very neat appearance. The padding will extend to just before the edge, so the padding isn't rolled under. Remember too, not all padding is thick. ;~)

The Flooring Lady at March 24, 2009 3:47 PM

Hi
Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. OH SHUCKS! I was hoping he was wrong. I wanted to save $301.00 and just lay the carpet on the floor without the padding thinking that it will look much better so now I have no way of convincing him. I can not wait to see the out come.
Thanks Again (smile)

Sharon at March 25, 2009 12:08 PM

Hi, I lay carpet and tile for some landlords in town. I usually do a straight glue down to the sub floor, but I have contracted with a new landlord and he wants me to do something different. He wants a pad down under a very thin and cheep rubber backed carpet, using no tack strips. He wants the carpet glued down to. I know how to lay a pad and how to stretch a carpet, but I am confused as to how to do it when gluing down the pad and the carpet. I think the glue won't spread well on top of the pad.Thank you for any advice.

Melissa at April 18, 2009 1:07 AM

I want to lay carpet over linoleum in my bathroom. Is this reasonable or do I need to do something else?

Kelly Brown at April 18, 2009 7:38 PM

Hi Melissa,
With the little bit of info you've submitted, I cannot make any recommendations. Perhaps if you could give more info?

The Flooring Lady at April 20, 2009 11:59 AM

Hi Kelly,
It's ok to lay carpeting over lino. Keep in mind though, that bathroom floors often get wet, which is not an ideal situation for carpeting.

The Flooring Lady at April 20, 2009 12:00 PM

I live in military housing in Hawaii. We are wanting to lay down carpet in our garage and seal off the door so we can use it as a play room for our kids. The issue is that we CANNOT use tack strips. We definitely want to use carpet and not just rugs. Any suggestions?

Joe P at April 27, 2009 5:13 PM

I have a new plywood floor that I want to carpet without the use of a pad. This is an office area where chairs with rollers will be used. Is this a good idea? Should glue be used, or is it OK to just use tacking strips and just stretch it? Could you, or would you provide me with step by step instructions as to how to do it? Thank you, Ed Doyel

Ed Doyel at April 28, 2009 6:13 PM

Hi Joe,
I would suggest carpet tiles. Yep - there really is such a thing! Honestly though, I've never used them, so I can't tell you what to expect. They're usually applied with adhesive and there's also the peel and stick kind.

But, I suppose you're not allowed to use glue either, correct? You know, you could put down particle board or plywood first - think of it as a 'floating' floor. You could then glue it down or staple it - you could still use carpet tack strips too! Just be sure that the nails are shorter than the height of the board and strip combined. See these articles: http://www.theflooringlady.com/how_to_install_carpet_pad.html and http://www.theflooringlady.com/basement_carpet_pad.html .

You could still use carpet tile - all you'd need is some thin sub-flooring material under it.

The Flooring Lady at April 28, 2009 10:56 PM

Hi Ed,
What type of carpeting are you thinking about? It's not a good idea to not use a carpet pad. Pads extend the life of the carpet. Please see this article about carpet pads.

In an office setting, plastic type mats (most likely acrylic??) are used at the desk area where a chair will be used to help protect the carpet.

There's further information about installing carpeting and the pad, please check the Full Archives - the link is on the top right-hand corner. It doesn't go into as much detail, but there are do-it-yourself sites that give wonderfully detailed instructions. Do a search at Google.

Good luck!

The Flooring Lady at April 28, 2009 11:03 PM

Thank you very much Flooring Lady for the fast response. I didn't expect a reply within 24 hours. I will follow your advise and use a carpet pad and then use acrylic mats. Thanks again. Ed Doyel

Ed Doyel at April 29, 2009 8:51 AM

Hi Ed,
Thanks not needed, but appreciated. ;~) That is why I have this site - to try to help people. Glad you found the info useful. Good luck on your project!

The Flooring Lady at April 30, 2009 11:40 AM

Hi, our basement flooded (slightly) enough to get all our carpet and padding wet. This happened about four months ago. We pulled up all the carpet and padding. We threw out the padding but kept the carpet. We dried out the carpet and feel we can still use it. Is it reasonable for us to reinstall our own fresh padding and either try to put the carpet back on, or hire someone to reinstall the carpet on top of our padding job? The carpet is all there, but is back in its original strips (needing to be seamed again).

John at May 6, 2009 5:29 PM

Hi John,
If you feel that you can do the job well enough, then sure, try to do it yourself. I would recommend figuring out where the water came in from and addressing that problem first so that hopefully, you won't have to be bothered with all of this again. The basement floor should also be sealed if it isn't already.

The Flooring Lady at May 7, 2009 8:50 PM

We pulled up old carpet out of my mom's house. The old padding is basically stuck to the wood floor. Can we install new pad and carpet without having to remove the old pad. We are talking about 30 year old pad.

Shirley at June 4, 2009 12:54 PM

Hi Shirley,
It's best to try to remove it - you can install over it if you get it smoothed out pretty well first. Remember - bumps that are under the new covering will probably be felt and seen to some extent.

The Flooring Lady at June 6, 2009 12:53 PM

Hi,I have a bamboo floor and would like carpet over it. The floor is up against the baseboard. I do not want to remove the bamboo floor which has been called by one installer "floating". I would like the carpet with pading over the floor. Is this possible? thank you!

worldarts at July 22, 2009 5:58 PM

Hi Worldarts, I've never encountered anyone who wished to install carpet over Bamboo before. If your carpet installer says it can be done then I don't know why it couldn't be done.

The Flooring Lady at July 23, 2009 1:40 PM

Hello Flooring Lady!
Long story short- removed MBR & hall carpet & pad to get to subfloor to fix squeaks. Put down new pad, and installer that came to re- install carpet said it looked great....I didn't tape the pad seams and he said he would...
Everything back in & looks good BUT when you walk over the areas where he taped the pad, you hear a crackling sound, like a potato chip bag??? Not real loud, but noticeble. Almost as if the tape isn't sticking well or something!! There is one pad seam the length of the bedroom and a couple of doorways,

Have you ever heard tell of this? Is it bad tape??

Thank you for you help!

Sara at August 8, 2009 9:35 AM

Sara,

I'd say the tape might not be sealed properly, perhaps too hot an iron, too cool an iron, or old mastik so it is not sticking properly.

I would contact the installer and alert him to the issue.

The Flooring Lady at August 10, 2009 11:31 AM

I am about to install a pad and carpet in my basement over cement and vct tiles. I plan to glue the pad down. My problem is: for the tack strips and stretching the carpet. I only have 1 long wall and 2 partial short walls. The 4th wall will be a seam to another rooms carpet which I plan to heat glue together. How do I stretch the carpet correctly. everything I have read uses 4 full walls of tackstrips to get carpet tight. I just dont have that. Thank you so mush for your help.

Jaret at August 30, 2009 6:26 PM

Jaret,

I'm sorry to say I've never done one and hear they are very difficult to do well. If you choose to do it yourself the only advice I can give is to be sure to use a 6" tape and work carefully. Beyond that I'm not going to be able to help you.

The Flooring Lady at August 31, 2009 2:58 PM

Is it better to glue carpet down or use padding
in a commercial environment? The foundation is
all concrete.

Carole at September 1, 2009 7:47 AM

Hi Carole,

What type of carpeting are you thinking about? It's not a good idea to go without using a carpet pad. Pads extend the life of the carpet. I have an article about Carpet Pad here on my site. Why not give it a read and feel free to come back and let me know what you chose to do and if you're happy with the results!

The Flooring Lady at September 1, 2009 12:07 PM

hi carpet lady... we had our carpet installed Commercial grade tight loop over quality pad... the carpet kind of squeeks when yo walk on it... installer says that it is the carpet (polypropylene) but it feels like it is action between the carpet and the pad... any thoughts?

Dan at September 23, 2009 8:30 AM

Dan,

Hi. My thought would be that the installer is probably correct. Polypropylene is used to make fiber and plastics. It alone could make a squeak, and also you have polypropylene rubbing against a synthetic pad. I would guess these are where your squeak is coming from.

The Flooring Lady at September 24, 2009 2:01 PM


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