A new look for your home starts from the floor up. While laying carpet is a physically demanding job, it’s one that a DIY-minded homeowner can tackle on their own as long as they have the right tools—and strong knees. Use this guide to learn how to install carpet that looks sleek and professional the DIY way.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Tools to install carpet.

Image: Tools4Floors

To install carpet, you’ll need the following:

  • Tackless strips
  • Staple gun
  • Utility knife
  • Stair tool
  • Chalk line
  • Tape measure
  • Duct tape
  • Seaming tape
  • Knee pads
  • Knee kicker
  • Power stretcher
  • Rolling pin or carpet roller
  • Seaming iron

SardoneThe Pros Say:

If you know your exact measurements, you can try calling your local carpet supplier to see if they have any rolls or leftover sections they’re getting rid of cheap.

Stephan Sardone | Sardone Construction

Step 2: Prep the Room

Before you begin laying carpet, you need to make sure your new flooring will have a sturdy, level base. After removing the old carpet, scrape or sand away any adhesive residue. If your subfloor is wood, fix any loose floorboards. Finally, vacuum the subfloor to remove dirt and grit.

Cleaning the subfloor before laying carpet.

Image: Skidgel

Step 3: Install Tackless Strips

Nail tackless strips around the entire perimeter of the room, except for entryways. You can also reuse your old tackless strips if they’re in good condition. Tackless strips are what will secure your new carpet to the subfloor and hold it firmly in place.

Leave about half an inch of space between the strips and the wall. The tacks should face the wall and the strips should butt firmly against each other.

Using tackless strips to install carpet.

Image: Consmos

Step 4: Install the Underlay

The underlay provides padding underneath your carpet that not only makes it soft on your feet but allows you to install your carpet without ripples or bunching.

Lay strips of carpet padding down so that they butt up against each other and the tackless strips, but do not overlap. Trim away excess as necessary.

Staple the padding to the subfloor along the perimeter. Use duct tape to seal the seams between strips of padding. If you’re installing padding over a concrete subfloor, it’s a good idea to daub small beads of glue onto the subfloor to better hold the padding in place.

Laying carpet padding.

Image: DIYadvice

Step 5: Cut and Install the Carpet

You’ll likely need to use multiple strips of carpet to cover the entire room. Ensure that each of your carpet strips will leave you with 6 inches of excess material. This will give you room to trim the carpet precisely once it’s laid out.

For each carpet strip, measure your room at its longest point and add six inches. If necessary, cut the carpet to this measurement.

SardoneThe Pros Say:

You really need to know how to measure in order to not make this DIY project cost more than if you hired it out to a pro the first time.

Stephan Sardone | Sardone Construction

Lay the carpet strip, butting it against the wall at the near end of the room, with the overlap at the far end. Carefully snap a chalk line on the back of the carpet where it meets the wall. Use a utility knife to cut away the excess along the chalk line.

Allow strips to overlap each other by a few inches and ensure that the carpet pile is running in the same direction. Wherever strips overlap, use your utility knife to cut through both. This way the edges will match up perfectly.

SardoneThe Pros Say:

Choose carpets that don’t have real specific patterns so that you have less waste when seaming sections together.

Stephan Sardone | Sardone Construction

Center a piece of seaming tape beneath each seam, adhesive side up. Use a seaming iron to activate the adhesive (note: run the iron over the adhesive NOT over the carpet).

Pull the edges of both carpet strips firmly together and seal the seam by running over it with a rolling pin or carpet roller.

Trimming carpet.

Step 7: Stretch the Carpet

Beginning at any point of the room, place the toothed end of your knee kicker three inches from the wall. Wearing knee pads, work around the entire perimeter of the room, forcefully driving a knee into the tool’s padded end. This stretches the carpet over the tackless strips where the tacks will catch and hold it in place.

Now go back around the room with the power stretcher. Place the non-toothed end against one wall and the toothed end six inches from the other wall. Push on the activation lever to stretch the carpet even more firmly over the tackless strips.

Use a stair tool to tuck excess carpet under your baseboards. Trim with a utility knife if there is too much excess.

Trim the carpet around any doorways, ensuring that the edge will be centered under the closed door. Install a door edge strip. Cut openings for any floor vents.

Using a stretcher to install carpet.

Image: Cool Tools

Stretch and Celebrate

You did it! Flex your knees, stretch your back and kick off your shoes to enjoy the feel of your brand new floor. Now that you know how to install carpet like a pro, check out our exceedingly comprehensive Guide to DIY Home Improvement to learn everything else you need to know about floor remodeling—and more.