Reinstalling carpet a stretch, but doable

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Reinstalling carpet a stretch, but doable

Q: Our wall-to-wall carpeting has developed wrinkles over the last five years. The carpeting is still in good condition, with no staining and no signs of wear. I would like to reinstall the carpet. Do you have any advice on how to reinstall carpeting?

A: The installation of new carpeting is probably best left to the pros, who have the proper tools and know-how for laying out, seaming and handling large rolls of new carpeting and padding. Compared with the cost of new carpet and padding, the installation fees are not that costly.

However, if your task is basically one of restretching the carpet and retacking it in place, you can probably tackle the job yourself. You will, however, have to invest in the proper tools, or rent them, to do the job.

You will need a carpet stretcher with an extension, a “knee kicker,” and a carpet cutter for trimming excess after the carpet has been stretched.

If you have to replace the carpet tack strip or the carpet padding, other tools required will include a pry bar to remove the existing tack strip along the carpet edges, a stapler with 5/16-inch staples to reinstall the pad, and tin snips or a chisel to cut the new tack strips to length, as well as a pair of pliers and a hammer.

Removal of the entire carpet and the padding is not necessary, nor is it advisable.

Start by pulling the carpet back from the walls. It is best to use a pair of pliers to start lifting the corner of the carpet and gently pulling until the edge is dislodged from the carpet tack strip. When you have enough of the edge free, use your hands to grip the carpet and strip it away from the tack strip along the wall. Watch for doorways, where seams are often located. You don’t want to break the seam.

Once you have dislodged the carpet from the tacking strip, check the padding. Hopefully, the padding will be in place and not part of the wrinkling problem.

If the padding is damaged – for example, water damage that caused the carpet to stretch and the padding to deteriorate – the padding should be replaced.

Removing padding would entail the removal of the staples that hold it in place. The tools best suited for staple removal are a screwdriver and needle-nose pliers.

When the carpet is no longer secured around the room perimeter, check out the carpet tack strips. If they are still in good condition with sharp tines, you can reuse them when reinstalling the stretched carpeting. If double-stick adhesive was used to set your original carpet, I suggest you remove the tape and install regular carpet tack strips.

If you have to remove the carpet tack strips use a pry bar. Pound it with a hammer to get beneath the setting nails of the tack strip and then pry up the 4-foot sections. These are usually secured to the floor by sharp nails on the underside of the strip.

If your subfloor is concrete rather than wood, removing tack strips and resetting new ones is a more difficult process. You will have to chisel through the tack strips, then pry out the wood through the concrete nails – they won’t pull out – and break off the nailheads. This may leave chips in the concrete and cause problems with reinstallation of a tack strip.

Tack strips always come in 4-foot lengths and are available with concrete nails for slabs or standard nails for wooden floors. Installation is easy: Simply hammer the prestarted setting nails into the floors. Be sure to point the carpet-gripping nail tips toward the wall when you install them, or they won’t hold the carpet in place during the stretching process. The strips should be positioned about a half-inch from the baseboards. Avoid any gaps at corners or between lengths.

If the tack strip must be installed in an area that is difficult to reach, such as the toe space under a kitchen counter, you will have to pull the setting nails out and use a bed of construction adhesive to firmly plant the tack strips in place. Allow 24 hours for the adhesive to set. On short pieces of tack strips, add drywall nails as needed to prevent twisting under tension. For concrete installations, you can use construction adhesive or an adhesive designed specifically for securing tack strips to concrete.

Before you reinstall the carpeting, make sure the carpet padding is in place, firmly resting against the inside edge of the tack strip. Carpet padding should be stapled to the floor along the tack strip at approximately 3-inch intervals, using 5/16-inch staples; or use cement glue on concrete slabs. New padding should be stapled to the floor along seams as well as along the tack strip. On concrete slabs, use duct tape on the backside of the padding for seams, and anchor the padding along the seams with double-faced tape rather than staples.

Once the padding is firmly in place and the tack strips are set, you are ready for the final phase of your project: rolling the carpet back into position, stretching and fastening.

For this phase you will need a knee kicker, power stretcher with extension tubes, carpet trimming tool and a hammer.

You use the knee kicker to bump the carpet up onto the tack strips along the “set” walls (select two walls at a right angle to use as “set” walls). Use the head of the hammer to pound the carpet backing into the tack strips. Keep the edges taut using the knee kicker as you place the carpet on the tack strips along the perimeter of the set walls.

Your next step is to stretch the carpeting using the power stretcher. The power stretcher kit comes with extension sections so you can adjust the shaft length to the room dimensions. It works by bracing one end against a wall while you embed the teeth of the head in the carpet about 6 inches away from the unanchored edge. As you force the lever down, the teeth dig through the surface fibers, grip the carpet backing and stretch the carpet.

Start by stretching the carpet diagonally to the opposite corner of the room, then to the walls opposite each set wall. Add and adjust extension tubes of the power stretcher so that the head of the stretcher is 4 inches from the wall. Press down firmly on the handle to stretch the carpeting taut.

Use a hammer to set the backing of the carpet over the tack strip spines directly in front of the stretcher head as you continue along the walls of the room that are opposite the set walls.

Use a carpet knife or special carpet trimming tool to trim excess carpet along the walls. Leave 1/4 inch excess to tuck under the baseboard, between the baseboard molding and the tack strip, using a small putty blade. It may be preferable to remove the baseboards during carpet installation and reinstall them as a final step.

Use metal or wood transition strips to cover the joint of the carpeting at doorways, or trim and tuck it for a clean edge.

© Copley News Service

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