Lessons From Laying Carpet on Your Own

I just laid carpet in my bedroom and wanted to share some things I learned in the process. This is the first time I have actually participated in laying carpet in a capacity other than that of a dumb worker. Given my thrifty mentality, I would definitely do this again, given the money saved and the quality of craftsmanship around where I live (the work done on our house before we moved in was just sloppy). Here are the lessons learned, and below is a description of the process.

  1. Measure the rooms carefully, and take the measurements to the store. Before you buy anything, compare the measurements in hand to those on the roll.
  2. Do not bend rolls of carpet. It will cause you pain and suffering for which you won’t even be able to sue. Man, I thought this was America.
  3. Carpet store employees are generally really salesmen or laborers. The salesman just wants to sell you product and get his commission. The laborer is someone who couldn’t cut it laying carpet and so they took a big pay cut and started doing basic labor. There is no good reason to go to either of these sources for advice, if you can help. Stores that are operated by actual owners tend to offer much better advice and service, based on pride in their service and desire to build a long term relationship.
  4. Make sure you aren’t cutting the carpet out backwards.
  5. The grid on the carpet padding isn’t square to the edge. Don’t let it guide your cuts.
  6. Harbor freight sells a very adequate knee kicker.

I wanted to get the job done as inexpensively as possible, so I went and bought remnants. The closer you live to Dalton, GA, the better deal you can get on remnants, as a rule. Carpet rolls generally come in rolls 12 ft wide, with some rolls 15 ft wide. Our room is 12’6″ by 12’6″. Thank you builders. We had to buy a 15 ft wide roll that was 18ft long for our room. Our sons’ rooms both measure 13 ft by 9’6″. When I was at the store, I somehow deluded myself into thinking that the rooms were actually only 12 ft long. Don’t ask me how I did that, let’s just say I have some carpet for sale on craiglist right now. That is lesson number one.

Much to my dismay, I do not own a pickup, and have to use my minivan for all hauling. It should be clear to anyone that a 15 ft long roll of carpet will not fit in minivan if you want the windows to remain intact. I was thinking I could ask a friend with a truck or bend the roll and put in in my minivan. I asked the help at the store if it hurts a roll if you bend it. As I laid the carpet, I realized I had made two mistakes in one (mistakes 2 and 3). Carpet rolls that have been bent in half have creases and lumps in them that require excessive work to remove.

I ripped out my old carpet and used the old carpet as a pattern to cut out the new carpet, leaving an extra inch or so on all the borders for final trimming. This can be done in a larger room or outside, and leaves you with a lot more room to work with the stiff heavy carpet. I almost made a mistake by not having both of the pieces of carpet facing the same way, i.e. both upside down or both right side up. My wife was pretty pleased with herself when she saved me from massive error. Thank you honey. I will still call that mistake 4 so others will not repeat my near mistake.

A friend of mine wanted to learn how to lay carpet, and would rather do it at my expense than his own (smart guy). He helped me and is very handy. When we were putting down the new pad, I tried to cut the end square with the grid of webbing on the padding. That was mistake number 5. Apparently, the grid on the padding is not aligned with the direction of the roll. Luckily, it made me cut too long, so I just ended up having to trim off a little more.

I bought a knee kicker at Harbor Freight. The knee kicker performed it’s job well, and at $30, it was by far the cheapest available. I rarely buy from Harbor freight, preferring Makita/Milwaukee/Dewalt tools, but I knew this knee kicker would only be used a few times. It firmly gripped the carpet and did not ever damage it.

The actual carpet laying went fairly smooth because I had a smart worker with another set of eyes to prevent me from making any ridiculous mistakes. I still need to lay the carpet in my boys’ rooms, and I plan to do that. After the furniture was removed from the room, the whole process took about 5 hours. I would expect it to take around 3.5 hours next time. I will let you know how my sons’ rooms go. Please leave any questions as comments so I can answer them when I blog about doing my sons’ rooms.

Schactya vam!


31 Responses to “Lessons From Laying Carpet on Your Own”

  1. 1 Jason June 9, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Wow! do you really think that you know how to lay carpet? You should have called and asked if it was a good idea to tie in a knot and throw it in the back of your van…

  2. 2 Tackless Strip August 1, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Bending the carpet doesn’t seem, to me, to be a huge mistake. If it’s even a mistake at all. Each time I’ve had carpet installed, the installers had the rolls bent in half and loaded in the back of a cargo van.

    Granted, they also used a carpet stretcher, will will help to lay everything flat and take out any creases.

    I did install a room with a roll that was transported in a bent fashion. I had no crease problems. The roll did lay out, unbent, for about a week after transport. We used no stretcher on that install, as it was a small room.

  3. 3 Elaine February 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    well here goes! I figure if a man can do it so i can i!!! so far ive did my whole room on my own!, i routered my own wall boards and made my own 45 angles for the window trim! now im ready to lay the carpet! ive enjoyed reading your how to! God Bless ya! and your wife as well for keeping you from making a huge mistake!

  4. 4 Carl July 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Wow – Thanks for your excellent of how to do carpet laying. I’m just about to lay carpet in a small room at home. And now I have no excuse for making at least 5 mistakes!!

  5. 5 Justin Marc March 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

    bending of carpet doesnt hurt the carpet and we quite often need to do this to get it in the room without marking walls ect.. as long as its stretched out properly, I doubt this would the case using a $30 knee kicker, we use power stretchers, so you don’t get bubbles, ripples later down the track
    And a 15 ft room would take a professional about 1 hour start to finish and I’d cost the job at no more than $100, so sometime you gotta ask your self is it worth the trouble, but I’ve made quite a bit fixing up DIY mistakes

    • 6 durch April 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      I am not going to disagree with you for many cases. I am in a new house, and needed carpet in my basement. I hired some installers with excellent records, and was happy to pay for their skill and labor. I would still not worry to much about a single room. My single rooms liked and wore much better than my “professionally” done upstairs. Good installers, however, can be well worth it.

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