Carpet Stretching Primer

Is your carpet wrinkling? Wrinkles can form under your carpet due to several reasons, such as poor carpet installation and water damage. Carpets that have been installed for many years can also start to crinkle simply due to wear and tear as well. This means that if you are or intend to be a carpet owner, then you should probably familiarize with carpet stretching. After all, wrinkles on your carpet are not only ugly, but it can also be dangerous as it can cause occupants to trip and fall over the wrinkled edges. A wrinkled carpet is also much more susceptible to tearing and ripping as well, which could then lead to an expensive repair cost.

The good news is that you won’t have to wait for bumps to appear on your carpet before deciding to have your carpet stretched. Instead, all you need to do is lift up the centre of your carpet and snap it back into place. If your carpet returns to its original shape, it means that no stretching is required and vice versa.

Tools of the Trade

If you’re on a budget or simply do not have the time to wait for professionals to slot your household emergency into their appointment books, you might want to enjoy the satisfying experience of stretching your very own carpet. The required tools for this DIY project includes a:

  • hammer
  • cold chisel
  • stapler with 5/16-inch staples
  • needle-nose pliers
  • pry bar
  • utility knife
  • rubber mallet
  • power stretcher kit
  • tin snips
  • knee kicker
  • carpet cutter
  • and a flat tip screwdriver

A knee kicker and carpet cutter can be easily found in hardware stores. The former tool is used to tighten carpeting along the edges whereas the carpet cutter allows you to trim segments of the carpet even while it is still attached to a baseboard or wall.

When purchasing tack strips, do note that one can either purchase strips meant for concrete flooring or strips meant for wooden flooring- which means that it is essential that you select the right type for your project. Tack strips also only come in 4 feet lengths which you can easily trim down with tin snips.

If the condition of your carpet is pretty serious, you might want to procure replacement carpeting, a carpet pad and tack strips as well. Do note that if your entire carpet requires an overhaul, you’d be better off hiring professional help as pro installation fees are relatively cheaper compared to installing a new pad and carpeting.

Step One: Removing the Carpeting

The first thing you would want to do is to partially remove part of the installed carpet. Begin by lifting up one corner of the carpet while taking care to gently pry the fabric loose of the tack strip to prevent unravelling the fibres. Generally, you would want to pull the carpeting away from the track strips in a zipper-like motion.

Once the carpet has been pulled away, you can then remove the all the staples attached to the carpet pad with pliers. Exercise as much patience as you can, as a single staple left on the pad can cause the padding to rip during the removal process. Once that’s done, you can then gently pull the carpet padding away.

A bonus option after this step is that you can also take the opportunity to fix any squeaky flooring. To do this, carefully tread across the floors and mark the areas with the squeaks. Once the marking has been done, screw in 2-1/2 inch screws into the underlying floor joists to enjoy a sound-free walking experience on your newly repaired flooring.

Step Two: Replacing the Tack Strips

Removing old tack strips can be a dangerous process as these strips come with needle-sharp nails that are driven at awkward angles to better grip the carpet. Hence, always wear thick gloves before removing the old tack strips with a pry bar. We recommend that you first pound the edge of a pry bar directly under the setting nails before wedging the old tack strip away from its fixed position.

Once the old tack strips are removed, you can then install brand new strips by simply positing the strips and then hammering the setting nails into place with a hammer. Do note though that there are a couple of things you should take note of before you position your new strips. For one thing, the carpet-gripping nail tips must be facing the direction of the wall to properly stretch your carpet. You also should avoid leaving any gaps or corners between the trips too as that can create a loose finishing.

Step Three: Stretching the Carpet

We can now move on to carpet stretching! Begin by installing new carpet pads directly on to the tack strips. You might want to trim the pads to fit snugly on the tack strips and you should also fasten the padding in with staples with 3-inches width apart. You can then roll on the carpet back into place.

It is now time to bring out the power stretcher kit, which is essentially the most important item you’ll need to stretch your carpet out. Generally, power stretchers operate by pulling on the surface of the carpet on one end while being attached the edge of the wall on the other hand. You can then activate the lever on the power stretcher to grip and stretch the surface of the carpet. If it takes too much effort to pull the lever down, it means that you are overstretching the carpet and vice versa.

Once you’re satisfied with your newly stretched carpet, you can then apply the knee kicker to confined areas which cannot be reached by the power stretcher, such as along the doorway. Your knee kicker should be positioned about 6 inches away from the wall. To activate the mechanism, kick the teeth of the knee kicker with the area above your kneecap followed by embedding the carpet with tack strip. Repeat the processes until you are satisfied that the carpet’s edges are fully tightened.

Step Four: Trimming the Carpet

If stretching your carpet has left you with excess edges, you can then trim the overflow with a carpet cutter. Alternatively, you may also attempt trimming your carpet with an utility knife, although you should be careful and work slowly to prevent any untoward accidents.

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