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Do-It-Yourself Carpet Installation Guide (DIY)

By Alan Fletcher Carpet Expert & Consumer Advocate


How to Install Carpet - Carpet Laying Safety

A lot of handymen think they can install their own carpet or flooring themselves. They likely have a lot of common handyman experience. However, installing carpet is one of those jobs that takes a lot of SPECIALIZED experience and SPECIFIC hands-on know-how in order to complete the job correctly. 


If installed wrong, you can lose up to one half of the carpet's lifespan. A small carpet job might go well for you, but in most cases, you should leave carpet installation to those with a lot of experience.


If you are a "Jack-Of-All-Trades then you may be one of the few people I have ever met, without any prior carpet installing experience, that can install new carpet in your own home correctly to potentially save a few dollars. Is this a good idea? No.


Of those few persons, the carpet job was fairly simple, basically small square rooms without the need for seams and it took them at least five times longer to complete the job as it would for any experienced carpet installer. Did they save money? Maybe. Save time? Probably not. Did it void your new carpet warranty? Absolutely! 

If you ever have a carpet complaint and you contact the manufacturer to submit a claim, the first thing they will ask you is..."Who installed your carpet?". If you say you installed it yourself, they will question your carpet installation abilities and then politely deny your claim.


Nobody wants to see you hurt yourself trying to install your own carpet just to save a few bucks, but let's face it, installing new carpet can be very dangerous on one hand, and if you do it wrong, could be very costly, not to mention the added cost if you happen to cut the material improperly. But if you must give it a try, here is some information that might help you avoid some troubles.



It's Easy To Make Simple But Costly Mistakes.

When my son was 15 he was eager to make some extra money and wanted me teach him how to lay carpet. His first day on the job ended at noon when he accidentally cut his index finger quite deep with a utility knife. I had warned him to be very careful using the knife and he said it wouldn't be a problem. He had quite the ego!


After a trip to the emergency room, several stitches and a week or so to heal up, he was ready to give it another try. He really thought he would be able to use a carpet knife safely, but he found out the hard way that he was wrong.


Now, after this serious mishap, he had a lot more respect for the carpet knife. 


The moral of the story? If you are too arrogant or over-confident about your abilities, you may end up making a costly mistake. It is better to err on the side of caution then to try to impress those around you.


My advice? Always have the utmost respect for the carpet cutting blades and other sharp tools. There is no quick way to become proficient with handling tools and equipment. Take your time and move slowly and deliberately when handling knives, sharp blades, tools and all power equipment. 



Carpet Laying - Knee and Back Protection

Crawling around for a short time on your hands and knees may not cause you much pain while you are weeding your garden but I assure you that laying carpet all day surely will. Your knees won't hurt too much until the next day. After a week of crawling around, your knees will feel like they are on fire. Your lower back will suffer too. Your hands, fingers, knuckles and other muscles you never knew you had, will be barking too!


No matter what, you must protect your knees by wearing some good quality kneepads. But a word of warning, your knees will still be very sore even if you do wear kneepads. All kneepads have some type of straps that help keep them in the right position. These straps will rub the skin on the back of your legs raw for the first few days or weeks you wear them. The skin on the front of your knees will also turn fire-red and be inflamed after just a few hours on your knees. 


Laying carpet requires using lower back muscles that you may not have used very much before, if ever. It is very easy to lift too much and hurt your back. If something is too heavy, get someone to help you. Never have the superman attitude that since you are young and strong you can lift anything. You may be young and strong today, but your back can still be severely injured if you are not careful. Remember the old saying, "lift with your knees, not with your back" it still holds true today. Protect yourself or your body will fail you in years to come.



More Carpet Laying Safety Precautions

There are other potential hazards to look out for when installing carpet. Your eyes need protection too, especially when removing old carpet and padding, scraping up old flooring, hammering or nailing and other activities where dust and debris is floating in the air or flying around. 


Wearing a good pair of safety goggles is important. I can't tell you how many times the head of a nail has broken off and flew into my face while hammering. One person I know had part of a nail head go right into his eye and he required surgery. 


All carpet tools are hazardous. Some tools have sharp teeth, others have hot surfaces, long staples and razor sharp blades. If you are not careful you can easily lose a finger, trip, fall, burn or cut yourself so serious it will require a quick trip to the emergency room. It's not just you that can be injured, anyone in the work area can be hurt too. Dogs, cats, kids, fish, friends and neighbors need to be kept away from the work zone at all times.



Develop Smart Carpet Laying Work Habits

Being well organized can help you avoid SERIOUS problems. Keep your carpet tools picked up and out of the way when they are not in use. Don't leave used razor blades lying around, place them in a safe container. Make sure extension cords and other electric cords are laid out and positioned in a safe manner and not a trip hazard. 


Keep electrical equipment unplugged when not in use. Be careful not to place anything too close to a wall heater or other heat source to reduce the risk of a fire.


I once knew a carpet installer who accidentally dropped his utility knife. It fell straight down into the side of his shoe and cut very deep into his ankle . The wound became infected and it almost killed him. His foot had to be operated on and it took a long time to heal. It did so much damage to his foot that he never installed carpet again. Also, make sure you are sure-footed. It is super easy to twist your ankle and fall when carrying heavy materials in and out of the jobsite. 


The point is, you need to be very careful and take your time. Don't be in a hurry and don't work when you are fatigued. Most of the mishaps I had during my carpet laying career mostly happened toward the end of the long day, and often on a Friday after a long work-week. Don't work when you are too tired. Tomorrow is another day!


Learn about Carpet Installation - Tools and Supplies



Top Ten Causes for Carpet Wrinkles


What is the Cause of your Carpet Wrinkles? 

If you have Carpet wrinkles, ripples or waves in your carpet, it is very important that you find out why, who or what may be responsible for your problem and learn what you can do to get a quick remedy. However, you must act fast if you want to avoid permanent carpet damage. 


In some cases you may get your damaged carpet replaced at no charge to you if you can prove that someone else is responsible for causing your carpet to develop wrinkles. 


Did you have your carpet professionally cleaned recently? Do you have standing water underneath your home? Are your gutters overflowing or not performing correctly? These are just a few of the common reasons why your carpets may be developing wrinkles in your home. 


Learn more Top Ten Causes for Carpet Wrinkles



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