Throughout the years I have attended seminars, presentations and demonstrations showcasing various ways to simplify some of the repetitive steps involved in floor covering installation. Some of them may be old hat; others may make your installation a little easier.

Before we start, remember this: Knowing the type of carpet construction, the material backing, the type of substrate and its moisture content will save all kinds of time and frustration.

Now, let's look at some tips every installation professional should know:

  • The tooth size of the trowel must be maintained to assure that the proper quantity of adhesive is applied. Troweling over a concrete floor for a morning or afternoon without re-notching will reduce the amount of adhesive being applied, possibly leading to a failure and the resulting expense of the repair.
  • To speed up the installation of a vinyl trim into a metal channel, spray the leg of the vinyl with a silicone spray before tapping it in with the rubber mallet.
  • When installing carpet by the cement-direct method, spread the seam area first, followed by the field. This will give the adhesive at the seam area more time to set up, helping to prevent a pucker or peaking.
  • When installing outdoor carpet around a pool area, use contact cement to bond the 12-to-18 inches of carpet closest to the pool. Coat the carpet backing twice and the deck once. Always allow the contact adhesive to dry completely before installing the carpet, and be sure the deck is dry before you start the installation.
  • Cove base cannot be applied over vinyl wallpaper. Use your utility knife and make a cut through the wallpaper approximately 3-1/2 inches up from the floor. The vinyl wallpaper can then be stripped from the wall to assure a proper substrate for the cove base installation.

    On some installations, the specifications will call for metal stair nosings or binder bars. When the floor or stairs are concrete, one of two methods may be used. Some carbide-tip drill bits will fit the punched holes in the metal. In this case, the nosing or binder is cut to the required width and the holes in the metal are used as drill guides.

    When the holes are too small for the drill bit, cut the nosing or binder to the proper width and hold the metal trim in place. Take a white cake of chalk and rub it over the holes in the metal. A residue of chalk will fall through the holes onto the carpet. Remove the nosing or binder bar carefully; the little piles of chalk will indicate where the holes should be drilled. Before drilling, use an awl to make holes in the carpet so the drill does not pull the face yarns.

  • To make perfect inside and outside corners on any tap-down metal, insert a small scrap of the carpet under the lip of the corner being mitered. Using a rubber mallet, tap the lip down until it captures the carpet scrap, then cut both at 45-degree angles. Fasten the metal to the floor and use a stair tool to raise the lip to its original position. Then proceed with the carpet installation.
  • When using the double-glue method for installing carpet, use a non-releasable hot-melt tape when seaming. The taped area must stick to the pad, and a releasable won't do it.
  • When installing carpet over patching or leveling compounds, apply a skim coat over the patch with the flat side of the trowel and let it dry before spreading the floor. This will prevent excessive absorption and improve the holding power over the patched areas.
  • When installing a reinforced-vinyl or solid-vinyl tile, use a trowel-notch size that is half the thickness of the tile, e.g. a 1/32-inch notch for 1/16-inch tile.

    Fresh-air ventilation during carpet and all other floor covering installations should be maintained by opening windows and doors, utilizing exhaust fans and by operating the building's ventilation system at full capacity. Avoid re-circulation of the air; exhaust to the outside whenever possible. Ventilation should be maintained for at least 48-to-72 hours. This will exhaust, dissipate and eliminate lingering odors when used in conjunction with low-odor, low-emission adhesives, carpet and cushion.