Carpet makes a room feel instantly warmer and cosier underfoot. But there’s more to consider when fitting a carpet than just the carpet itself, such as underlay, grippers and threshold bars. When thinking about carpeting a room in your home, a good cushioned underlay will make your carpet last longer, feel softer to walk on and provide more sound insulation. Hessian or woven-backed carpets are usually better quality than those that are foam-backed, and need to be stretched and attached to gripper when they’re fitted.
How to measure for a carpet
Measuring a square or rectangular room
First, measure the width of your room, including any alcoves, door recesses, or bay windows (measurement A). Carpets are usually sold in set widths (usually 4m or 5m) so, if your space is between sizes, you’ll need to opt for the larger. Then, take the measurement of the length of your room, again including any alcoves, door recesses, or bay windows (measurement B). Carpets can usually be cut to any length required but always add an extra 10% to any measurement to allow for deviations in the wall and the cutting of your carpet when fitted. To calculate the total square metrage of the floor area, multiply measurement A by measurement B.
Measuring an odd shaped room
If you have an oddly shaped room, you will need to take the widest width and the longest length measurements to calculate the amount of carpet you’ll need.
What you need to fit a carpet
- Sweeping brush
- Vacuum cleaner
- Tape measure
- Gripper rods
- Small saw
- General purpose snips
- Gripper adhesive
- Staple gun
- Carpet stretcher
- Carpet tucker
- Utility knife or trimming knife
- Bolster or screwdriver
- Threshold bar
How to fit carpet gripper
- Carpet gripper is made from long, thin strips of wood with small sharp pins that hold the carpet in place. Ensure you wear protective gloves when you handle it, as the pins are very sharp. You should fit gripper all the way around the edge of your room, except across the doorway (where you’ll need a threshold bar instead). You can fit gripper to both concrete and wooden floors, and it usually comes with nails in place so it’s ready to fix.
- Before you start, thoroughly sweep or vacuum the floor to make sure it is as clean as possible. Next, check for hidden wires or pipes with a pipe and cable detector, and mark their positions on the floor. If you find any, or if you need to fit gripper in places where it’s awkward to use a hammer, you’ll need to fix the gripper in place with suitable adhesive instead.
- Cut the gripper to the correct size with a small saw or pair of tinsnips, and fasten the lengths together. You’ll notice that the gripper is angled on one edge — this edge should face the skirting board. Try to leave a gap of 7mm (or around 3/4 the thickness of the carpet) between your skirting boards and the gripper.
- Secure any lengths of gripper that you need to stick down. Pull out the nails using a pair of pliers or pincers and squeeze on some gripper adhesive. Next, hammer the remaining gripper in place, taking care not to damage the skirting while you work.
How to fit underlay
- Begin by rolling out the floor lining paper, and securing it by using a heavy-duty staple gun or by applying spray adhesive round the edges. Make sure the rows overlap slightly.
- Loose-lay the underlay on top of the paper with the rubber side face down. Then use a sharp utility knife to cut it level with the gripper rods.
- Butt the rows together and join them with a heavy-duty carpet tape. Make sure you don’t overlap the underlay, it needs to be as smooth and level as possible.
How to fit carpet
Make sure you store your carpet carefully before laying it. You should to keep it rolled, rather than folded to avoid any problems when you want to lay it flat and stretch it. Carpet is very heavy and cumbersome to move, so have a willing assistant on hand to help you carry and position it. You will need to use a stretcher (or knee kicker) to stretch hessian-backed carpet onto the gripper. This has a flat plate at one end with teeth that grip the carpet, and a padded cushion at the other that you push (rather than kick) with one knee.
Start by laying your carpet loosely in position. Stand in the corner of the room with one foot under the carpet, then smooth and push it into position with your other foot. Cut the carpet to size if you need to, leaving 50-75mm extra at each edge.
Cut a vertical line in the excess carpet directly above the corners, then trim the overlapping triangles so you can lay the carpet flat to the gripper.
Begin fitting your carpet from the longest wall in your room, and work back towards the doorway. Using a carpet tucker, firmly crease the carpet against the skirting to mark a fold line.
Using a trimming knife with a sharp blade, hold the carpet flat to the floor and carefully cut along the carpet edge. You will need to cut about 5mm higher than the carpet surface. Take great care not to cut into the skirting board when you do this.
Position the carpet stretcher, with the facing teeth downwards, about 25mm from the skirting board. Then push firmly against the padded end with your knee to hook the carpet onto the gripper on either side of the corner. Use the carpet tucker to push the excess carpet down between the skirting and the gripper. Repeat this method as you work your way along the first wall. Then trim, stretch and fix the carpet along the two adjacent walls, and finally the opposite wall.
When fitting carpet across a doorway, you should cut it in line with the edge of the flooring in the next room. Fit a suitable threshold bar in place and push the carpet edge neatly underneath it with a bolster or screwdriver.
How to solve 6 common problems when fitting a carpet
- For hard-to-reach or awkward areas (like under a radiator), re-position the nails closer to the edge of the gripper and hold them in place with a long bar. As you can hit this with your hammer further back, you won’t risk damaging your radiator.
- Fitting carpet can be really hard on the knees, so make sure you wear a well-cushioned pair of knee pads while you’re doing it.
- If you need to fit the carpet around a pipe, make a straight cut from the edge of the carpet to the centre of the pipe. Then press the carpet firmly around the pipe, and trim it by running the knife round the base of the pipe at a 45º angle until the carpet lies flat.
- Avoid lumps in your carpet by making sure you don’t overlap the underlay beneath it. Always butt the joins together instead of laying them on top of one another.
- For awkward shapes, for example around a door frame or into an alcove, make several vertical cuts down the edge, then trim the carpet flush with the knife.
- Make sure your carpet has a taut, smooth finish by taking great care to pull it as tightly as you can when you hook it onto the hooks of the grippers.