All flooring installers have encountered situations throughout their careers that demanded special and immediate attention. Perhaps it was a problem that called for immediate resolution, or perhaps the product arrived somewhat differently than expected.  It may also have been an area that did not match what was ordered or any number of situations in which the professional installers always appear to find a way to make it work. 

Installation tips are very helpful; flooring installers sharing with others makes everyone’s work easier. We have received an abundance of ideas from installers who gladly share techniques that work for them.  It is possible that they may not work for you.  But, just in case you encounter a situation on the job; perhaps you’ll remember someone’s proven method that worked for them just at the right moment to achieve the ultimate goal, customer satisfaction.  

Carpet Installation Tips  

Ken Brown (GA), Shaw Industries Technical Department

When installing SoftBac carpet, use a low-profile seaming tape with a low melting point for better penetration through the fleece.  Use the low-profile tape with a glue stick that also has a low melting point to seal the seam edges on a stretch-in installation and eliminate the opening of the seam.  

Roy Davison (MO)

SoftBac is not as heat sensitive as conventional backings.  It is not harmed by seaming at iron settings up to 3-3 ½.  The hot-melt glue must penetrate completely through the fleece and into the woven part of the backing; the part under the fleece that looks like ActionBac.  The hot-melt must penetrate the entire backing!  Otherwise, the seam may pull open. Because the actual temperature may vary from iron to iron, the installer must gauge the iron to find the proper setting.  Let the seaming tape cool before stretching.  SoftBac insulates better than other backings and the seams cool a little slower.  Touch the tape instead of the carpet.  If you stretch before the tape cools, the seam may pull open. This is also true to a lesser extent with other backings.  

Perry Wright (TX)

If it is necessary to net fit the side of the cut when rolling the carpet out in the room, place a hook-blade knife or hammer under the edge of the carpet.  Position the tool to lean gently on the wall, ahead of the power stretcher. This keeps the carpet edge rolled upward.  It will not be necessary to keep your hand rolling the edge up so the carpet goes up the wall line to hook properly on the tackstrip.  This will avoid butting and creating a bubble along the tackstrip as you move along.  Slide the wedge tool of choice down the wall line during the stretch. This procedure also works when restretching carpet.  

Ed Braile (MO)

Keep out the moisture!  During installation, to avoid water seeping under carpet that abuts to a hard surface, run a bead of seam sealer along the edges of the carpet and along the edge of the ceramic tile. Next, attach the carpet to the edge.  The carpet will remain tightly adhered when the hard surface is wet mopped or a vacuum is moved across the two floorings.  To avoid unsightly carpet edges, use this technique during the installation.

To prevent moisture from entering under the metal trim, apply a bead of caulking under the metal during the installation.  When the area is cleaned with a liquid, this procedure prevents moisture from going under the metal and through the carpet; creating a soiled appearance. 

Keep latex from building up the side of the iron. Before plugging in the seaming iron, spray it with silicone weekly to keep latex from building up on the side. The procedure is required more often if a large amount of seaming is involved.

Use an air mover to position carpet. When a situation is encountered that will not allow the carpet to slide easily across the cushion, use a leaf blower or an air mover to insert air under the corner of the carpet.  The carpet will move into position easily.  

Nate Hall (WI)

Clean-up time! Do not risk using solvents when adhesive finds its way onto the surface of vinyl or vinyl tile and becomes dry. Use duct tape from your “First-Aid Kit” and dab the adhesive away by using the sticky side of the tape.  Pad tape also works.  If your helper scuffed or smudged the walls AGAIN, try Mr. Clean’s “Magic Eraser.” It has saved me a few times!  

Paul Foster (TX)

To avoid the unsightliness of stair treads and risers that are more than an inch away from the skirt (wall), use commercial/architectural tackstrip to bridge this gap.  To bridge the gap on the risers, for the “cap-and-band” stair installation style, use flashing (light gauge metal) and bend the edge on one end.  Next, adhere it against the skirt (wall) with liquid nails or hot glue.

To avoid the grossly, unlevel “ramps” in above grade (upstairs or pier and beam) subfloors, fill in the low spots and create a “form” on the low side.  This is done by installing plywood/osb before pouring the floor fill.  This procedure saves time, uses less floor fill and creates a more structurally sound substrate for the flooring installation.     

What if the baseboards are too high, especially with the low-profile broadloom goods that are popular today?  Cut strips of cushion to achieve the appropriate thickness.  Secure these with electric staples in the “gully,” the gap between the tackstrip and wall.  

Stan Cunningham (MO)

To make clean-up easier on the kneekicker pins, try stretching a nylon stocking tightly over the head of the kicker; the gripper pins will protrude.  To clean, simply pull the stocking off and all the fibers will come with it. 

It is helpful to use a two-headed powerstretcher when stretching in an extra long room of carpet, such as a basement area that has exposed pole supports.  By using this tool, it stretches evenly away from the pole and doesn’t put the carpet “in a bind” around the pole.

To make the task of unloading much easier, lay a sheet of plastic under the roll of carpet in the truck or van.  It will slide out easily, instead of dragging or binding.

After the installation, use lemon oil to wipe down the wooden base to help get rid of the minor "white" scratches that carpet backing can sometimes create. 

If you get a slight scruff (which is almost inevitable), when installing carpet with white painted base, use "white-out" to touch up the base. To any non-typists, this product can be found at a very reasonable price where office supplies are sold.    

Don Oldham (MO)

Installers must know the type of carpet and backing in order to make certain a profit is made and to present an accurate bid for the job. For example, a Unitary-backed carpet requires a premium-grade adhesive, a heavier notched trowel and it must be rolled twice; the first time immediately after installation and the second time, three to twelve-hours later.  The carpet and backing type must be addressed to present an accurate cost because of the additional installation time required, as well as the increase in cost for the specified adhesive product.  

Kenny Miles (GA), Technical Services – Clayton Miller Hospitality Carpets

Another way to position the seam tape under the two sections of carpet to be seamed is to lay both sections side by side.  They must be close together, but not touching.  Next, insert the seam tape under the seam at one end.  Use an awl to drag the seam tape the length of the seam.

Jim Burnett (GA), Customer Relations Manager J&J / Invision Carpet

When installing Enhancer-type backings with fleece, it can be next to impossible to move the carpet into position due to old brittle adhesive or rough concrete “grabbing” the fleece similar to a Velcro action.  Over the substrate, lay out a sheet of plastic that is 10-12 feet wide times the length of the cut.  Next, roll out the carpet out on top of the plastic.  The carpet can then be easily positioned and folded back to spread adhesive.  Remove the plastic sheet and spread adhesive.  Repeat for each sheet.  

Jim Walker (MO)

Lower the height of the tackstrip pins. When installing sisal-type or low-profile carpets, use shorter tackstrip pins; such as D or E-type. If this type of tackstrip is not available, use a material such as the secondary backing from a tufted carpet scrap, scribing felt, sheet rock or binding tape to shorten the height of the tackstrip pins.  Position the material on top of the tackstrip.  Use a carpet tractor or roller to force the backing onto the tackstrip pins. This procedure shortens the height of the C-pins to avoid pulling loops from the carpet.  It will also prevent injury to anyone who might step on the tackstrip pins that protrude through the face of the carpet.    

Ralph Richins (MO)

By spraying a dry silicone lubricant on the loop-pile cutter, it allows the cutter to glide through the carpet rows much more smoothly, especially on a hot-melt backing. A hot-melt backing usually “gums up” the cutter.  Remember, it must be a “dry” silicone lubricant.    Have you ever noticed how your carpet knife and wall trimmer blades seem to "dull" a lot quicker on certain types of carpet or backing (i.e. hot melt backing)? A simple solution to this problem is to spray your blades with dry silicone before using them.  Not only will the blades glide through the carpet, but they will also last longer.  

Al Brown (MO)

A chalk line will last much longer if you substitute baby powder for the white chalk.  

Jim Rank (MO)

“Row cutting” some “straight-row” berber styles can be difficult from the front side because the yarn falls over on itself, making it difficult to part.  Sometimes, it is easier to cut the row from the reverse side of the carpet. You can use a dull flat-headed screwdriver to locate the rows from the back. Simply run the screwdriver down the reverse side of the carpet and it will naturally go into the groove (row) and mark it for cutting. Next, run your cutter along that row from the back.

Bob Gillespie (MO)

Generally, when installing carpet on “waterfall” steps, you can either place tackstrip next to the wall or turn under the edge of the carpet to achieve a more “plush” look. Some carpets are hard to turn because they are so stiff.  Use the screwdriver method (as explained in the previous tip) to score the edge to be turned and thus, make a nicer fold.

Place double-face tape on the floor under the toe kick to secure the tackstrip when nailing it to a concrete floor. For installations on a concrete substrate, use double-face tape to hold the tackstrip in place when using the toe-kick drive bar.  

Herm Claussen (MO)

If you don’t have a Z-bar carpet trimmer when installing carpet that requires Z-bar instead of another type of carpet bar; use a scrap section of Z-bar as a guide to trim the carpet.  Install the Z-bar as normal. Next, take the scrap section of Z-bar, making sure to turn it around backward and insert it where the carpet would normally be tucked. Use the back edge of the Z-bar as a straight edge to trim the excess carpet. This procedure leaves the correct amount of carpet to be tucked.  

Robert Henry (MO)

Conventional strip cutters are designed to cut tackstrip that is up to 1-inch wide. When the job calls for 1-¼" strip, normally it is necessary to purchase wider cutters.  In order to use the conventional cutters, simply turn the cutter blades around.  This provides approximately ¼" additional length.  Many installers use the 1-¼" wide tackstrip strip with three rows of pins instead of double-stripping or using the architectural strip.  

Stan Cunningham (MO)

Cleaning that trowel!  Cut a 1-1/2”to 2” slit in the top edge of the adhesive bucket.  Insert the trowel and scrape off the adhesive into the bucket. This technique scrapes the trowel virtually clean.

Stop the popcorn noise! When installing pin-less metal for glue-direct carpet on concrete, run a bead of carpet seam sealer on the back of the metal.  Secure with concrete nails to avoid the “popcorn” noise. 

Roy Davison  (MO)

It doesn’t always work to just use caution tape to keep people from walking on freshly glued flooring.  I completed a large set of stair treads and risers in a church and placed caution tape at both the top and the bottom of the stairs.  Minutes later, a little girl was seen coming down the stairs. When asked if she had seen the caution tape, she replied, “Yes, and I was being really, really cautious!”  Needless to say, from that point on, I always add warning signs, such as: WET ADHESIVE UNDER FLOOR - KEEP OFF!  

Al Brown (MO)  (deceased)

To increase the shelf life of adhesives, store the buckets upside down. This keeps the seal airtight.  Warning!  Check to be sure the lids are on tight before doing this.

Roy Davison (MO)

Stay nails are often used to keep the carpet from shifting when tubing back glue-down carpet to spread the adhesive.  The gripper half of a Velcro-strip can be used instead of the stay nails.  Use the Velcro-strips to hold one section of carpet to the other to keep it from shifting.  This is especially helpful on concrete floors.  

Darrell Ediger (KS)

Want to save a little time when applying cove base?  Instead of using contact cement on your difficult wrap-around outside corners, try using exterior-grade, double-faced carpet tape.  This saves the drying time, as well as the mess. Just remember that you must use exterior grade tape.

Jim Rank (MO)

Apply a bead of liquid nail (or that type of adhesive) with a caulking gun on the floor the full length of the glue-down carpet bar.  Place the carpet bar into the adhesive, and roll it with a hand roller to achieve a complete transfer of the adhesive.  To achieve a much stronger bond, gently lift the bar up and lay it on its side, allowing for flashing of the adhesive and then reapply it with the roller.  If this procedure is followed, the bar should never release from the floor. To insure that it will not come up, use a hammer drill to install up to three anchors per bar.

Always install the hallway first in a home or in any area where several rooms come off a main hallway.  In most cases the hallway must be done first anyway, especially with patterned goods. But, by completely installing the hallway first, it will save “down time” by allowing several work areas to be ready at the same time to keep the entire crew busy.    

Roy Davison (MO)

If the carpet is out of the manufacturer’s stated tolerances for bow, skew and pattern elongation, it doesn't necessarily mean that it cannot be properly installed. It will, however, take a lot more time and effort.  By talking with the retailer and the manufacturer, suggestions can be made to stop further delays or problems with the job and agree upon additional compensation for the installers’ time.  Example: The bow is out of tolerance, but only on the ends of the carpet.  If you have enough carpet to cut it back to the next pattern, you can eliminate the “scalloped” look in the pattern after installation.  

Bob Lowe (MO)

Unsightly gaps can appear as you tuck a straight-row berber carpet into the gully between the tackstrip and the wall.  To prevent this from happening, pull the yarn in the row closest to the wall.  This leaves extra backing to tuck and the row will not break off as easily.

Mark Wolfe (MO)

Another way to avoid the unsightly gaps that appear in straight-row berber carpet is to set the tackstrip closer to the wall.  This causes the gully to become smaller, preventing the rows in the carpet from breaking open.

Bob Gillespie (MO)

If you do not have an “anti-sway kit” for your stretcher tubes, you simply place your stretcher poles through a cardboard carpet tube.  Since these tubes are at least 12-feet long, they keep your stretcher tubes from swaying.

Ralph Richins (MO)

Bonded cushion will occasionally have a foreign object, such as a small piece of hard plastic embedded in it.  This causes an annoying “squeak” or hard spot usually undiscovered until the carpet installation is complete.  There is something you can do besides remove the entire installation.  Use a very small sharp awl to alleviate this problem.  Separate the carpet fibers and insert the tip of the awl through the backing and into the “hard spot” of the cushion.  Work it around until it is loosened.  

Duane Baker (KS)

Save your fingers by holding short concrete nails between the teeth of an ordinary pocket comb.

Tim Crookham (PA)

When seaming at a doorway, use an adjustable straightedge. Cut the installed side first, then overlap the loose, unattached side. Use a utility knife with a NEW blade.  Push it through the bottom overlapped carpet on both ends and one in the middle. Then flip the carpet over and connect the small cuts with a straightedge and carpet knife. Seal the edges and begin seaming.   This method makes up for any bow in the carpet edges and creates a “gapless” seam.  

Walter Williams (NC)

Barely over lap the carpet edges to be seamed on glue-direct seams. This keeps you from “fighting” to keep them together when they are glued.  

Ken Miles (GA)

One technique that will assist in achieving an aligned pattern is to count the patterns to determine which roll to install first.

Chuck Kubich (NE)

When gluing down carpet, cover your spreader with grey (duct) tape on the top and bottom.  When finished with the project, peel off the tape.  The only area left to be cleaned is the teeth on the spreader.