carpet installation

Old 10-25-00, 08:59 PM
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I have read the other messages on installation. My question: Is is necessary to have a kicker for a very small room? The rooms are 8 by 14.
Old 10-25-00, 10:55 PM
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The ONLY time you don't need a knee kicker is when you're gluing the carpet down.
The reason you need a knee kicker for even a small carpet is that the only way the tack strips are going to grip the carpet is if the carpet is under tension. That's why the tacks in the tack strips are always pointing away from the middle of the carpet.

If you just press the carpet down onto the tack strips, it's not going to stay down. Also, those ripples you see on carpets that weren't kicked in tight enough are going to start showing up real soon because there's nothing stopping the carpet from doing that.

For a 8 by 14 room, I would definitely use a knee kicker.

If this is your first time installing a carpet, you may have trouble setting up the rented wall trimmer. You pretty well need a wall trimmer to do a good job. You slide it along the perimeter of the room and it cuts the carpet to the shape of the room. You can set these up to cut the carpet short of the wall by up to about 3/4 inch. If this is your first carpet installation, then have someone stand on a piece of scrap carpet near a wall and set up the trimmer shims so that it cuts flush with the wall. Now, when cutting the short walls, place a piece of 1/4 inch plywood against the wall so the trimmer rides on that. When cutting the long walls, place something about 1/8 inch thick against the wall so the carpet is cut 1/8 inch away from the wall. Then, when you use the knee kicker, have someone stand on the carpet directly over the tack strips on that side of the room while you use the knee kicker to stretch the carpet up to the wall.

Normally, I go in a clockwise pattern around the room, and I staple the carpet down to the wood floor on the outside of the tackstrips as I go, so the carpet tension causes the tacks to dig more deeply into the backing. Working clockwise is natural if you're right handed as I am because you kick with your right knee, meaning the unstretched carpet is always to your right.

The problem with telling someone how to install carpet is that the way you install each carpet is dependant on the floor plan, and deciding how to do it for each floor plan is something that only comes with experience. Maybe make a rough sketch of the room and take it down to any carpet place and ask the Installation Manager to give you an opinion on the starting point and work clockwise from there. I suppose you can also work counter clockwise if you feel comfortable kicking with your left knee.

When stretching a carpet into place, don't think of it as behaving like a solid sheet. Think of it as behaving like a rubber fishing net. When you stretch the carpet, the effect will be felt for about 18 inches on each side of the knee kicker, with the most difference right where the kicker is. If you move the kicker about 6 inches between
stretchings, and try to make sure the cut edge of the carpet is a uniform distance from the wall, then you'll get uniform tension in it.

Post again if you have specific questions on how to do something. I know installing carpet can be intimidating the first time round.

Also, a wall trimmer won't cut well if you have anything less than about 2 or 3 inches of carpet running up the wall all around the room. If you try to cut an inch off the end of the carpet, it's only going to twist up in front of the trimmer. You need that width of scrap running up the wall to hold the carpet straight as it's being cut.

Because of the above, when you cut in with the wall trimmer, you'll have scrap running up the wall behind the cut. The wall trimmer will have two blades so you can cut in both directions. When you go backwards to cut off the stuff behind the entry cut, you'll have trouble cutting it straight because the carpet will buckle and bend before there's enough scrap running up the wall to hold it straight. Most pros just ignore that, but you can strighten out the cut with a pair of scizzors if necessary.
Old 10-25-00, 11:06 PM
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Upon re-reading my last post, I have a correction:

When cutting one long wall, run the trimmer along that wall without any shim. Puth the 1/8 inch shim in when cutting the opposite wall. Same for the other side. When cutting the first short wall you encounter, cut it without a shim. When you get to the next short wall, use a 1/4 inch shim. When stretching the carpet with a knee kicker, have someone stand on the opposite side of the room where the carpet was cut flush with the wall, and have them stand with their weight directly over the tack strips if possible. Then, when you stretch the carpet with the kicker, the carpet will get stuck on the tack strips on both sides of the room at the same time. When I do this, I staple the carpet down on the outside of the tackstrips as I work instead of having someone stand on the carpet.

I thought it was important to correct this, because you don't stretch the carpet up to every wall. In a rectangular room, you cut the carpet flush with two adjacent walls and stretch it in both directions up to the opposing walls. For a 14 foot room, 1/4 inch is a fairly tight stretch. All of my living room carpets are 11 1/2 feet by about 17 feet and I use a 1/4 inch shim on both the short and long walls. The 17 foot stretch is easy, but the 11 foot stretch takes a fair bit of kicking, so 1/4 for the 14 foot dimension and 1/8 for the 8 foot stretch would be about right. (I think)
Old 10-31-00, 08:27 PM
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Although Nestor made some good points and admirably tried to help, I feel it important to offer my opinion as well.

Professionals who don't use a carpet stretcher in a room this size are a disservice to the industry and the customer. Unfortunately, many don't and give people the impression that a good job can be done without a power stretcher. Of course, you aren't a pro and it isn't expected that you should have all the proper tools at your disposal and be able to use them proficiently. The good news is, a power stretcher is easier to use properly than a knee kicker (which is also an essential tool).

Allow me to explain -- and this is meant to be no slight against Nestor at all. This is how I would instruct a do-it-yourselfer on installing a small room of carpet. I'll assume you already have the tackless strip nailed down -- there should be a gully (gap) between the tackless and the wall/baseboard slightly less than the compressed thickness of the carpet. I'll also assume the pad is down, smooth side up and trimmed to fit against the tackless and the seams are tight and taped (duct tape works fine).

1. Lay the carpet out so it is flat and the edges go up the wall about an inch and a half all around. Stand in one corner and look diagonally across the room to the other corner. The corner you're standing in is the starting corner, the corner you're looking at is the finishing corner. Remember that.

2. Using the knee kicker pointed directly at the starting corner (45 degrees to each wall) give a firm tap with your knee and lock your toes to the floor (try it again, you'll get it). Now, with the stair tool (keep note of these tools I mention so you'll be sure to get them all with your rental kit), pinch the carpet into the crotch where the wall and floor meet -- about 2' along each wall into the corner.

3. Trim and tuck this into the wall -- forget the wall trimmer, it's too hard to master. All you need is a carpet knife or utility knife -- and a few bandaids, just in case. Crease the carpet over right next to the wall and, with your knife, cut the back of the carpet so only about a quarter inch of carpet rides up the wall. Hold your fingers on the carpet on top of the tackless and tuck the carpet into the gully. You should have your starting corner done 2' on each wall. Don't that look purty? It's gonna look that good everywhere too.

4. Set your stretcher up so it goes across the short wall, the head about an inch an' a half from the wall and the tail pressed against the starting corner wall near the end of the trimmed in section (the stretcher will be at a slight angle towards the corner on the other side). Feel the action of the stretcher, lifting the handle up and down and you'll see that the smoothest action is lifting it only about half way.

5. First stretch -- lift the handle (the head automatically moves away from the wall) and press hard downwards and the carpet stretches. In an 8' stretch, you should get a half inch or more, depending on the stiffness of the backing. Now do like you did in the starting corner -- pinch the carpet into the tackless about 2' on each side of the corner. Trim and tuck as before, but don't trim the carpet past the corner of the stretcher head (trimmed and tucked 2' along the 8' wall, but only the width of the stretcher head on the long wall). There, 2 corners done.

6. Go back to the starting corner and with the knee kicker angled slightly, bump the carpet to the wall working towards the other corner. Keep jamming the carpet into the crotch to keep it on the pins. If there's a doorway, fold the carpet back and with the knife at the right door jam, cut towards you and to the right through the backing. On the left door jam, do the same only angle the cut to the left. This gives you carpet to trim inside the doorway on each side. Do that and then trim in the rest of the wall as you did the corners. Now, all of one short wall is done.

7. You will now use the power stretcher to get the carpet tight in the length of the room. Brace the tail against the wall near your starting corner just like you did before -- the head an inch an' a half from the wall on the other side of the room, slightly angled. Stretch the carpet tight -- real tight. It might take a couple pulls, but you should get close to an inch of stretch in 14'. Press the carpet onto the tackless in that corner just as before and trim it out.

8. Angle the stretcher in the other direction, about 15 degrees, give or take, and stretch that whole wall towards the finishing corner. Move the foot as you go and keep the angle constant (you can increase slightly, but don't decrease the angle or you'll get a bubble). You can trim each stretch as you go, but, if you press the carpet into the crotch and hold it there when you release the handle, it should stay. Then you can trim the rest of the wall all at once. Do not trim in the last foot or so. Now, looky what you've done. You got both short walls done.

9. Go back to the starting corner and, with the knee kicker, bump the whole long wall in, trim and tuck. If there's a doorway, do as before. Man, now you got 3 walls done.

10. Set the stretcher up so you can stretch the final wall -- foot against the trimmed in long wall near the starting corner, head angled slightly (now the angle is only 5 degrees or less) and work towards the finish corner. Pinch the carpet into the crotch as before, hold and release the handle. Go all the way to the finish corner. Trim and tuck.

11. Pick up scraps and vacuum. Put the metals on the doorways. Invite your friends over to see your beautiful job.

Sorry, no step 12. But if you need 12 steps, contact me off line.

Enjoy your new floor.

Old 11-20-00, 08:37 AM
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why use staples?
a knee wont stretch carpet it just moves it
staples are used for upholstery work the tackless was invented to hold the carpet instead of the old tiers way of using carpet tacks hence the name
you do give some good advice but the staple thing is way out of line

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