A Carpet Installer's Notebook: Re-stretching Carpet with a Deadman
September 26, 2006
A friend of mine who is the owner of a high-end carpet store called for some advice. A job needed a re-stretch. The original installer refused to come back. This one was a little different, and because of the layout his current installer was stumped.
It was the living room in an apartment on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh, with a beautiful view over looking the city and the confluence of the three rivers. The outside wall was all windows. (Photo 1) The opposite side was the open dining and kitchen area with the carpet finished to the tile edge. (Photo 2)
One end was a closet with the folding doors covered with mirrors. (Photo 3) "No place to stretch from," the installer said. I told my friend, "Tell him to use a deadman, no big deal." Well, to make a long story short, my friend called back and asked, "Can you and Jon go out and fix this for me please and get this lady off my back?" I said sure.
When Jon and I got to the apartment the lady said, "You are the third guys here; do you really think you will be able to make a difference?" I looked at Jon; he smiled and said, "I know we will make a difference!"
A deadman is a great tool and allows you to stretch from areas you would be unable to otherwise. Installers who deal with patterns or stretch large commercial jobs would be lost without a deadman. No tool manufacturer carries them; you make your own. They are easy to make.
Jon and I have two, one made with a 2-by-12 and one made with a 2-by-8, the 2-by-8 being easier to handle on smaller jobs. The way to make a deadman is to cover one side of a four-foot board, either 2-by-12 or in this case a 2-by-8, with tackstrip. Have all the pins pointing in the same direction. (Photo 4)
Place the deadman on the floor with the pins pointing the opposite direction from your direction of stretch (Photo 5). Have your partner stand on the deadman. (Photo 6 ) This engages the pins in the carpet; it's like having a double-headed stretcher. Because of the layout and some furniture we could not move, Jon stretched both from the window wall and the edge of the tile. (Photo 7) A word of caution when picking up the deadman: DON'T pick it straight up! Give it a little kick in the direction of the stretch to disengage the pins from the carpet. As you can see in Photo 6, Jon and I have ours marked for stretch direction. This is just a little help.
When we finished we had cut off an inch from both sides and one end of the carpet. The job looked great and the lady was thrilled. A deadman is a very useful tool to have in the truck.