Can You DIY Carpet Installation?

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Person rolling out carpet during DIY carpet installation

Can you DIY carpet installation? We don’t recommend it. DIY carpet installation may not be the best way to save money. So many factors need to be taken into account in order to properly install a carpet in a large room, stairway or other unusual areas of the home. Sam Presnell from The Rug Gallery discusses the risks and benefits of DIY carpet installation. Listen or read more to find out if you could install your own carpet.

John Maher: Welcome to The Rug Gallery with Sam Presnell. The Rug Gallery is an Oriental rug company and carpet store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m John Maher, and I’m here with the owner of The Rug Gallery, Sam Presnell. Hi, Sam.

Sam Presnell: Hey, John.

John: Today we’re going to be talking about DIY carpet installation. Is it a good idea? Sam, can the average person install a carpet in their home correctly?

Sam: No!

John: Okay, maybe let’s explain that why is that the case that I can’t install a carpet in my own home when maybe I can do a bunch of other things, maybe I’m even pretty good with carpentry or something like that? I’m a pretty good DIY guy, I can put up wallboard or whatever, but why is carpet not a good idea?

Sam: Well, it depends on the carpet, and it depends on how big the room is. Is there any seam work being done? I think … is there a pattern to the carpet could be another issue. What’s the proper padding to use? What are you doing as far as the seam tapes that you’re using? What kind of melting process are you doing, if you’re doing a seam in a carpet?

Problems with DIY Carpet Installation

Sam: Also getting a proper stretch, a lot of people use those knee kickers when you’re doing it by home, and you’re really not going to get a proper stretch on a piece of carpet. You’re going to get…it’s going to be taut, but it’s not going to be tight, whereas we power stretch and do some different things with a professional carpet installation that you wouldn’t do in a DIY because of the cost of [using] that equipment and then not having the expertise of how to stretch a piece of carpet as well.

There’s all different kinds of pins or whatever you want to use. Certain carpets will use a different type of pin, which would be the tack strip around the outside of the room.

What do you do with the doorways? How do you turn them over? How do you meet other surfaces? What’s the best way to handle that? What if you’ve got a rise where the carpet is lower than the hardwood or ceramic or whatever it’s butting up to, what do you do about that? What do you do about doorways where it meets other carpet?

Read: Professional Carpet Installation: Why It Matters

Professional Installation is Best (if Certified)

I can go on and on here for lots of good reasons why a takes a professional. Of course, you’ve got to take that with a grain of salt, I guess, because I’m in the business and I guess mostly what I hear are the problems, and we have to fix stuff that even installers screw up. Most installers out there are not what I would call qualified or certified, or know all the basic fundamentals of carpet installations. Most of them have learned just like a DIY person would, and just automatically “now I’m a carpet installer”.

But there’s so much to learn about the backings and all kinds of things that are in the installation.

Carpet Stretch

John: Just you going through that list is amazing just to hear about all of the different things that I never would have thought of, in terms of laying out a carpet. Tell me a little bit more about the stretch and what that is. If I did it myself, could I end up with bubbles in the middle of the room or places where the rug is moving underneath my feet or something like that?

Sam: Yes, you’re not probably going to have that once you get it in because you’re going to take all that out when you kick it in or stretch it to the point of where you can with a knee kicker. You’re going to have a carpet that’s going to feel taut or whatever you want to call it. But what happens with where you place very heavy furniture on there, you get a lot of traffic.

Carpet tends to stretch; it’s a fabric. I mean it’s got a stiff back to it, but with time it will start migrating. If you don’t get it on the pins properly or the pins aren’t set good, that stretch is going to move. It’s going to be noticeable down the road. It won’t be immediately, but I think in a year or two it’ll start rearing its ugly head as far as, “hey, it wasn’t properly put in” and now you’ve got these wrinkles that are dangerous as well as unsightly.

Will DIY carpet installation save money?

John: If I was to try to do it myself would I save money doing it, or do you think that I would not?

Sam: Well, I think you would. I think definitely that’s the key point. A lot of times jobs are very small. Most installation crews don’t even want to come out to do a job unless they’re paid so much money. If you’ve got one small room, and there’s no seaming involved, and you bought a remnant or whatever for a cheap price. Yes, you probably really don’t need a carpet installer for that type of a situation.

I’m talking about big rooms, staircase installations, hallway installations. I think that would be a big challenge for somebody who’s never really worked with carpeting, or doesn’t have an experience of doing that kind of work.

Joining Carpet Seams

John: Tell me a little bit about seams and how you join up two pieces of carpet so that you don’t see the seam.

Sam: Yes, there is many different types of tapes out there, and there’s many different—it’s basically a thermoplastic, basically on a piece of paper that you melt with [a] melting iron. Basically, you melt the glue, and you’d have [to] pretty much match up the seams, so that [it] is taut. So that it basically touches the other one.

The big thing with carpeting before you put a scene together is you have to seam the carpet. You have to put a roll of latex sealer along that edge. How you apply that, and how thick you put it on, or how thin you put on, or how you don’t put it on, will determine what will happen with that seam down the road. What will happen is that seam will come apart. It’s usually from not doing the latex before you seam the carpet together. That’s always a big issue if you’re a DIY, you may not know how to do that.

Basically, putting the right application and getting the right bead of latex on that edge of that carpet before you seam is so crucial to a great installation.

Benefits of Professional Carpet Installation

John: All right, so it seems like there’s too much to it. I’m not willing to spend the time to learn how to do all of those things. What are the benefits that I’m going to get from having a professional carpet installation done?

Sam: Again, you’re going to get exactly what we talked about previously in that you’re going to get somebody who has experience with seaming a carpet. If you have a seam that you need to put in a carpet, you’re going to get that seaming done. If you’re going to get that stretch done you’re going to get it in the right proper way. Also, you’re going to use the right pin structure—maybe you need to double pin it. Maybe that carpet’s not adhered to it, maybe it’s a loop carpet, it’s very low profile. Maybe you’re got to meet other surfaces, how do you do that?

I mean there’s different techniques of ramping up the outside with building up the flooring so that its more gradual to the point where it meets the actual other surface that you’re butting the carpet too. Those are the kinds of things, when you look at the little details; and then long-term, you will definitely know that it was a professional installation because it holds up. You don’t get those wrinkles, bumps, lumps, and it holds in place. You sit there and say, “Wow. The carpet still looks great after five years.”

John: All right that’s great advice, Sam Presnell. Thanks for speaking with me today.

Sam: You’re welcome John. Thank you.

John: For more information about Sam, The Rug Gallery and Oriental rugs and carpets visit [] or call 513-793-9505. Make sure you catch the latest episodes by subscribing to this podcast on iTunes. If you can take the time to give us a review on iTunes as well, we’d appreciate that. See you next time on The Rug Gallery.

Categories: Ask Sam, Carpet