Installing carpet: a few tricks

Most homeowners believe that installing a wall-to-wall carpet is a job for professionals. But the fact is, unless a carpet installer knows how to use a power stretcher and how to create a good seam, his finished job will probably leave something to be desired. The best carpet installers earn their certification from the Floor Covering Installation Contractors of America, which we consulted for this article. We also consulted the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Residential Installation Standard No. 105. With the right tools and the knowledge of how to use them, you can do a job you’d be proud of.


Using a steel tape measure, find the length and width of the floor you wish to carpet. Add about 6 in. to the longest and widest parts of the room to make sure you buy enough material. Carpeting is sold by the square yard, so divide the nominal length and width in feet each by three. Multiply the quotients to determine the square yardage needed. For example, you’d need 28.41 sq. yd. of carpet for a room measuring 15 ft., 6 in. x 15 ft., 6 in. Here’s how it was figured: [(15 ft., 6 in. + 6 in.) / 3] x [(15 ft., 6 in. + in.) / 3] = (16 ft. / 3) x (16 ft. / 3) = 5.33 yd. x 5.33 yd. = 28.41 sq. yd.

Carpet manufacturers produce carpet in 12-ft. rolls. If both room dimensions are longer than 12 ft., as in the example, you’ll have to make some seams. Make a dimensioned sketch of floor area to be carpeted to determine how you’ll piece the carpet material together in the most efficient way. Place seams away from high-traffic areas. Depending on the shape of the room and how many irregularities there are, you might need a little more or a little less carpet. At the same time you buy the carpet, buy appropriate padding, following your carpet dealer’s advice.

You’ll also need to buy tackless strips, which are lengths of wood about 1 in. wide buy 1/4 in. thick with pins protruding from one side. They are installed along the edges of the floor to hold carpet in place. Measure the perimeter of the room to determine the amount of tackless strips required for the the installation. If you’re working with thick carpet, you may have to double up on the strips.

You’ll have to rent a seaming iron and a power stretcher from a tool-rental shop. When you rent the iron, buy hot-melt tape at the same time. The tape is used to bind pieces of carpet together when you seam them.

You may have trouble finding a power stretcher, but if you can possibly get your hands on one, it’ll be worth the effort it may take. If your tool-rental shop doesn’t have one, try to buy or rent a used one from a carpet-tool distributor or a local carpet shop.

Once you’re ready for carpet installation near Lansing, take all furniture out of the room. Since the old carpet may be full of dust and other debris, vacuum thoroughly before taking it up. Once the old carpet is gone, vacuum the bare floor.


Nail the tackless strips to the floor along the entire room perimeter. Tackless strips usually come with pre-installed nails, so you just have to drive them home. Secure small pieces of tackless strip with at least two nails. Set the strips at distance from baseboards equal to slightly less than the thickness of the carpet, but no more than 3/8 in. away. The pins in tackless strips protrude at an angle; they should point toward the wall.

Don’t place tackless strips across openings and doorways. Instead nail down trim molding, which will hold the carpet and create finished edge

Next put down the padding in the longest continuous lengths possible, overlaying the tackless strips. Lay the padding seams at right angles to carpet seams. If this isn’t possible, be sure padding seams fall at least 6 in. to one side of any carpet seam.

Staple the padding to the subfloor 1 to 6 in. within the perimeter edges. Space staples every 6 to 8 in. around the perimeter and along seams. Once the padding is secure, trim it back to reveal the tackless strips.

The next step is to lay-in and pretrim the carpet. With a helper, carry the carpet to its preplanned spot and unroll it. Position it so that 3 in. laps onto the walls. Cut inside and outside corners at an angle and trim away the excess carpeting.

If you have to seam the carpet, make sure the pile on the adjacent pieces lies in the same direction. You can check this by running your hand over the carpet. When you run your hand one way the pile will appear to stand up or darken. Run it the other way, and the pile will look like it’s lying on it’s side or will appear lighter.

Carefully trim back about 1 in. on both seam edges using a straightedge. Put hot-melt tape under entire length of the seam with the glue side up. Preheat the seaming iron. Starting at one end of the carpet, separate the seam slightly and place the iron on the seaming tape. After about 15 to 30 seconds move the iron up to the next section of tape. Carefully press the just-heated seam together. Separate the carpet fibers with your fingers and look at the backing to make sure it forms a good joint, with no overlapping and no gaps.

Place a heavy object on the completed seam to hold it down until the adhesive cools. If the object is metal, such as a toolbox, make sure the weight sits on piece of wood to prevent heat conduction. Work your way along the entire seam in this manner.

Once the seams are completed, stretch and hook the carpet as shown in the illustrations below. As you hook the carpet with the knee kicker, trim the fabric along the baseboard with a razor knife.

You may be able to rent a wall trimmer, which is special cutter that trims the carpet precisely along walls. After trimming, use a carpet chisel or a 4-in.-wide cold chisel to tuck the carpet in the space between the tackless strip and the wall.

One the carpet is stretched, trimmed and tucked, vacuum it to remove excess fiber and fluff it up. Replace all the furniture in the room, and you’re finished.

The latest trends in vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring used to be boring. Remember the old school corridor? Flooring materials have taken huge strides over the past few years, and none more so than vinyl.

Yards of dull, faded colour stretching to infinity – or at least to the Head’s office. But nowadays flooring companies are responding more and more to the demands of the specifier, as he or she becomes more design-and value-conscious. Project requirements have also changed over the years – legislation now dictates certain criteria for public areas and the workplace. Fortunately, technology has moved forward in tandem with these changes, allowing manufacturers to offer a greater range of products for use by the creative designer.

In specifying a smooth floor finish, safety is obviously a prime concern. One of the biggest causes of accidents in both public and private areas is “slips and trips”, resulting in not only loss of man hours but also possible litigation. As a result, safety flooring is now being installed in all environments – from leisure areas to supermarkets. Smooth floor coverings are playing an increasing role in the office too, where anti-static flooring is often a requirement. Here the long-term performance of the floor finish is also an issue as it has to cope with the regular movement of office chairs and other furniture.

More often than not the designer will start with a list of technical and legislative criteria, and this may include requirements on slip, bacteria, acoustics, fire retardancy, static electricity and resistance to wear. Manufacturers’ brochures are often the first port of call, and it is obviously important that product literature has sufficient technical information for a first selection to be made. In addition to thorough literature, many flooring companies now have an in-house technical rep or department. These are able to give sound advice while cutting through the sales patter that was once inevitable.

Having satisfied the technical criteria, the actual design or decorative element comes into play. Traditionally the chequer-board effect was the easiest way to create a patterned floor, but with the increasing sophistication of new technology, bespoke decorative flooring and afforadable flooring selections are becoming more common.

The latest trend with vinyl and rubber flooring is to make it more interesting by adding graphics and patterns such as the school emblem, company logo or directional signage. Most major flooring companies have now invested in computerised cutting services . Often there is also a standard range of designs and borders available for those seeking a cost-effective option.

10 Tips For Vacation Property Owners

If you’re one of America’s approximately 5.5 million vacation property owners, or if you are thinking of buying a seaside villa or a condo on the ski slopes, take some advice from an expert.

Here are 10 tips for “would be” and current vacation property owners:

1. Buy because you truly want to own the property, there’s a lifetime to fun, excitement, pride, status and enjoyment in ownership.

2. Don’t buy to “make a killing” in real estate. Those days are gone with the high inflation of the late 1970s and early 80s and with the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

3. Calculate cost of ownership before you buy. Include taxes, mortgage, utilities, management fees, regime fees, association fees, maintenance, furnishings and insurance.

4. Don’t buy on impulse. Research the resort. Talk to present owners.

5. Find a good management company. It’s tough to take care of a condo when it’s hundreds of miles away. Your property manager is your business partner.

6. Rental income can help pay your hefty property expenses.

7. In addition to rentals your manager secures, get some yourself. With just a little work, you can put thousands of extra rental income dollars in your pocket.

8. Try trading. Trade a week at your property to an owner at Aspen, CO or Amelia Island, FL.

9. Save the best weeks for your personal use.

10. Showcase your Alabama vacation property on the Internet. It provides global reach to millions to help owners rent, trade or sell their vacation properties.

For free information on showcasing your vacation property on the Internet write: Vacation Value Online

Gum on carpet a sticky situation

My toddler got gum on the carpeting in my living room. What is the best way to remove it?

A: The first step is to put a piece of ice in a plastic bag on the gum until it has hardened. Then gently scrape off as much of the gum as possible with the dull edge of a knife.

To remove the remaining stain, use dry-cleaning solvent, found in most grocery stores; be sure to follow the package directions exactly.

Q: I spilled a mixture of bleach and disinfectant on my carpet. How can I restore the color?

A: Chlorine bleach removes color permanently. Unfortunately, short of dyeing the spot professionally, there isn’t anything you can do. to restore the color. You might use a carpet scrap of carpet to patch the area.

Q: Rubber-backed carpet was glued to my bathroom floor. How do I dissolve the adhesive and clean the tile?

A: Use De-Solv-It or mineral spirits to remove the adhesive. Open a window and run a fan to ventilate the area. Then scrub tile with a solution of 1 cup mild detergent, 1/4 cup trisodum phosphate and 3 ounces household ammonia to 1 gallon water. Rinse with warm water and dry.

Q: I can’t get rid of depressions in the carpet left after moving furniture. I’ve tried vacuuming. What else can I do?

A: Brush the area with your fingertips so the mashed tufts stand up. Hold a steam iron 2 or 3 inches above the carpet and allow the steam to flow into the depression. Do not let the iron touch the carpet. After steaming, brush gently.

How can I remove pet stains from carpeting? If they can’t be removed, how can I replace areas of carpeting and be assured of matching colors in dye lots?

To remove pet stains: Apply a detergent solution ( 1/2 teaspoon mild detergent per pint of water) and blot. Then use an ammonia solution (1 tablespoon per cup of water) and blot. Follow with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water (test on an inconspicuous place first since vinegar can remove some dyes). Blot, flush with water, and blot again. If the urine has soaked into the pad, nothing will remove the smell. You will need to go to Plan B – replacing the carpet, please, visit Viking Carpet One . If you are replacing small areas, carpeting in closets can be used for patches. If the areas are large, only the manufacturer can help with matching dye lots. Call in the professionals.

Most useful cleaning hints

Sink drain: To keep it sanitary and odor-free, pour in 1/2-cup baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar. After it foams, flush with hot water, then cold. Repeat once a month.

Kitchen counter tops: For stubborn stains, squeeze fresh lemon juice on the area and let soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Then sprinkle with baking soda and rub gently with a soft cloth. Rinse with water and dry.

Wood chopping blocks and plastic cutting boards: To disinfect, mix a solution of 2 to 3 tablespoons bleach to 1 quart of water and pour it over the wood. Wait a few minutes before rinsing well.

Stale carpet smell: Using a flour sifter, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda. Leave for 30 minutes, then vacuum. If you want to buy a new carpet, please, visit

Miniblinds: Slip a terry sock over your hand, spray it with all-purpose cleaner and dust.

Chandelier: For sparkle without drips, quick-clean the crystals with pre-moistened, alcohol-based towelettes.

Fiberglass tub: Any inexpensive hair shampoo makes a great, low-cost cleaner. Scrub away using an old stocking rolled into a ball as a cleaning pad.

Toilet: As a cleaning shortcut, drop in a few denture tablets and let them fizz. Swish with toilet brush.

Room freshener: Before you vacuum, add a handful of whole cloves or potpourri, or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or nutmeg, to the vacuum cleaner bag.

Musty closets: Keep a bowl of activated charcoal in the closet to absorb the moisture that creates the odor.

Lamp shades: Dust with a soft, clean paintbrush.

Silk flowers: Place flower-end first into a paper or plastic bag filled with 1/4-cup salt and shake a few times.

The best and cheapest way to dry windows you’ve just washed is with crumpled newspaper. The printer’s ink makes the glass sparkle.

Painting concrete? Reading is first step

I want to paint our concrete porch and steps, which are covered with outdoor carpet. What kind of paint should be used on concrete, and how do I remove any adhesive left after stripping the old carpet?

Look for a “porch, floor, and deck” paint or a “porch and patio” paint that is also labeled for use on concrete. Epoxy paints and other solvent-based porch-floor paints are available, but I’ve had good results with water-based latex paint on porches and steps and recommend latex because it’s easy to use. As you go searching for new carpet, please visit Hosner CarpetOne.

A clean, dry surface is essential for painting concrete. You should be able to remove adhesive by scraping and sanding. Use a sharp metal scraper to remove most of the adhesive, then switch to a belt sander or disc sander with sandpaper that is 60-grit or coarser. Wear goggles and a dust mask when scraping or sanding.

Vacuum the surface and scrub with a heavy-duty cleaner such as trisodium phosphate (TSP), sold at paint stores. Rinse the concrete and let it dry thoroughly.

For other surface preparation steps, follow directions on the paint can. Be especially aware of any cautions on the label. It is often recommended that the concrete surface be etched with a 10-percent solution of muriatic acid, which is sold at some paint and hardware stores.

Acid etcher must be used with extreme care. Wear goggles, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing to protect yourself against splashes. The etcher will make the concrete more porous, thus facilitating paint adhesion and eliminating some contaminants that can also cause poor adhesion.

The easiest way to apply the paint is to use a roller with a long handle, so you won’t have to bend. Apply two coats or more.

When painting the steps, pour some paint in a separate can and add some grit or sand to improve traction. Paint stores sell special grit just for this purpose.

A few additional tips for painting concrete:

Let fresh concrete cure for at least 60 days before you paint it.

If a garage floor is to be painted, check the paint container for special directions. Automobile tires contain compounds that can soften paint. One paint I’ve used recommends double etching of garage floors and use of cardboard pads under tires for two weeks after paint is applied.

Quick, easy ways to clean carpets

Some handy tips on how to deal with common household problems with your carpets: Red Wine Spills

Treat a red wine spill with ordinary shaving cream from an aerosol can. Then, sponge off the area with cold water.

Or cover the area of the stain with a liberal amount of salt or baking soda. Leave until the stain is completely absorbed, then vacuum.

Or remove the stain with club soda.

Or remove the stain with white wine.

Slipping. Skidding carpets can be stopped in their tracks by applying nonskid bathroom appliques to the bottoms. Alternatively, place a few strips of double-faced carpet tape under the corners, or sew or glue rubber jar rings on to the bottom, click for carpet.

Fraying. To repair a rug with frayed edges, snip off the loose threads and dab some transparent glue along the entire edge. When the glue dries, it won’t be noticeable.

Burn marks. Shave off some carpet fuzz and roll into the shape of the burn. Apply clear glue to the area of the burn and then press on the fuzz ”patch.” Cover the area with a piece of clean tissue and place a heavy book on top. This will cause the glue to dry slowly and you’ll get the best results.