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Laying carpet
Old 09-24-2008, 01:22 PM   #1
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Laying carpet

Anyone here laid their own carpeting? (Let's keep this thread clean now).
I am about to the final step in finishing my basement and being the cheap b@st@rd frugal person that I am, I am planning to do it myself. I have about 650 s.f. on concrete plus stairs to cover, and can't bring myself to paying someone after having done the rest of it myself.
Any tips, tricks, pointers, web sites, etc., that you care to share?
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:24 PM   #2
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Its not rocket science, but its hard to do and have it look good without a decent amount of experience.

Stairs can be really, really challenging. Seams are also very hard to get to look good.

One of the few things I wont tackle as a DIY job.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:34 PM   #3
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You need some knee pads and a carpet stretcher that you can make. Stack of short 2x4s with nails to grip the carpet. It is hard to keep it even with just one person doing the job. I've not seen too many good DIY jobs, but if it is just you looking at it, then you can probably do it. I would skip carpeting the stairs entirely--as CFB points out, they are extremely tough to get right. Paint and nonskid would get my vote.

One thing that would be a lot easier is the carpet squares. If you have kids or dogs, the squares are even more compelling--if one gets stained, you just pull it up and replace it. I highly recommend good surface prep!
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:36 PM   #4
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It's all about the tools! How are you planning to install the tack strips to the concrete? Is this one big room? You'll be doing a lot of seams which are not hard IF you have the right tools. Most of your edges will be concealed under your base boards but you can't cut too short cause you can only stretch so far. I would go for a stained or painted floor below grade and look into a faux finish. If they're not asking too much I'd go with an installer but don't watch as it will appear way easier than it would be if you DIY. How's your knees? How much are your copays?
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Old 09-24-2008, 02:18 PM   #5
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I'm sure you've already googled plenty of DIY sites with info.

I once had a bunch of leftover carpet pieces when some pros installed carpeting in our last house. For the heck of it, I used them to carpet a loft above the garage. It turned out surprisingly well. Wouldn't pass in a living room, but it wasn't too shabby.
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Old 09-24-2008, 02:25 PM   #6
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It's all about the tools! How are you planning to install the tack strips to the concrete? Is this one big room? You'll be doing a lot of seams which are not hard IF you have the right tools. Most of your edges will be concealed under your base boards but you can't cut too short cause you can only stretch so far. I would go for a stained or painted floor below grade and look into a faux finish. If they're not asking too much I'd go with an installer but don't watch as it will appear way easier than it would be if you DIY. How's your knees? How much are your copays?
Got the kneepads, yeah. Shoot, only $20 copays, so what do I have to lose but a finger or toe or two.
I will rent the tools, for sure. I am a little anal, but I plan to use epoxy on the tackless strips(yeah, that is what they call them) in addition to the concrete nails that are attached to them.
It is two rooms connected by an open 5' doorway, and with fewest (and smallest length of) seams it would involve two seams, one about 18 feet in length and the other 10 feet, assuming 12' carpeting width.
Yeah, from reading, generally speaking I will lay it 2-3 inches long, seam two pieces together, stretch, cut off excess.
With the stairs, I don't see how they can be such a difficult problem, just take my time and use tack strips.
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Old 09-24-2008, 02:37 PM   #7
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Epoxying the strips might give you some trouble down the line. You're likely to get a little moisture through the floor to the strips and they may rot a little on you or the metal tabs may rust away. And you'll never get them up. Even if you get away with it, the guy who buys your house is going to call you some pretty nice names when he goes to remove the carpet.

You'll either need one of the cachunkers to nail the strips down, or you can get away with a hammer drill, some slugs and screws made for concrete anchoring.

I love epoxy, but man am I careful what I use it on.

The stairs are a hassle because you have to wrap the carpet around the steps. Its a lot of pretty precise cutting and tacking. I watched the guys do mine last year, as I'd never had steps recarpeted before. It took them longer to do the two short flights of stairs than to do about 8 rooms worth.
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Old 09-24-2008, 03:44 PM   #8
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Ah, yes, the cachunkers! We put down all the hardwood flooring in our 1500 square foot house (no carpet) and it was lovely 4",6" and 8" heart pine planks milled locally. Gawd did that suck in a big way. I think our knees will never be the same. And there is no pain in the world quite like when you hit your knee with the nailer instead of the nail!
We also did the tile work in baths and laundry room, but that sucks much less because you don't have to maintain tension like getting floorboards (or carpet) straight. And I'm just saying...those carpet squares would be a piece of cake.
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:10 AM   #9
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I hear ya on the epoxy-issue CFB. I'll definitely take it easy on the glue - maybe 2 dabs per strip. I just feel more comfortable that the strip will not pull out with a combination of glue and nails.

At w*rk, they laid carpet squares, and it looks pretty nice actually, but it is a little bit lacking in the cushioning. That would be a very easy option, but the hard surface is what is holding me back from choosing this option.

I considered engineered hardwood, which, at Lumber Liquidators, would be pretty cost-effective, but again, it would be "hard" bouncing around on this floor.

Has anyone else actually laid carpeting themselves, and if so, would you do it again or pay to have it done?
Thanks for all responses.
Bob
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:22 AM   #10
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(Let's keep this thread clean now).
As if...
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:04 AM   #11
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I've put down stick together home depot vinyl "wood" planks over a foam backed vapor barrier over concrete that I laid down first. Keeps the moisture in check, and gives the floor a nice bounce and a little bit of insulation.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:20 AM   #12
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Ok, I see your little mouse in your avatar seems to like the comfortable flooring. I could see putting some insulation underneath "wood" flooring, but I think I still prefer carpeting. I am one of those that likes to sprawl out on the floor, and carpeting can't be beat when it comes to that.

I will likely do the laminate-thing on our kitchen/entryway floor in the next 5 years.
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:25 AM   #13
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You could buy a runner for the stairs--that would probably be really easy to install. The flooring CFB mentions--laminated "wood" like Pergo--sounds like it would be easier to install and would look nice. You could sprawl out on an area rug on top of it....

Even though the lower level isn't as visible as the first floor, it counts down the road when you go to sell it, if that matters to you. If your carpeting isn't still passable at that point, will it be easy for you to pull everything up at that point and "fix" it?
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:49 AM   #14
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I hear ya on the epoxy-issue CFB. I'll definitely take it easy on the glue - maybe 2 dabs per strip. I just feel more comfortable that the strip will not pull out with a combination of glue and nails.
If it makes you feel better, then sure, but epoxy is totally unecessary and a waste of your valuable time. I've never had a strip of tackless pull out in two different houses. If you're concerned that the carpet might not have enough pointy ends to pull on, or that the pull will be too strong for the tackless to hold, then you could lay down a couple parallel rows of tackless strips.

Someday someone is going to want to remove those tackless strips, and they are not going to be amused to find epoxy. Hopefully it won't be you.

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At w*rk, they laid carpet squares, and it looks pretty nice actually, but it is a little bit lacking in the cushioning. That would be a very easy option, but the hard surface is what is holding me back from choosing this option.
I'd buy the highest-quality padding you can find. Don't skimp on this step. New synthetics are much springier and more comfortable on the feet, and it'll last at least the life of the carpet.

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Has anyone else actually laid carpeting themselves, and if so, would you do it again or pay to have it done?
Thanks for all responses.
Bob
Yes, and I'll never do it again. It's well worth paying a guy who's been doing it for even a few months, who's 5x faster than us, and who knows just a few tricks.

Even the power carpet spreaders are difficult to work into all the corners & nooks, while the knee-kickers will definitely build up your muscles. It'd take me forever to have the confidence to slash into a carpet roll the way these guys do, and to make sure that all the seams are laid with the correct grain & fit. Then there's the techniques of seaming the carpet correctly.

Steps are a whole 'nother level of complexity to lay the carpet in the correct direction, go through the turns in the right way, and match the patterns. Then there's the challenge of getting everything tight on the bullnoses & risers. It's a skill that can't be learned in one pass by the average DIY homeowner. If you're as anal as you claim to be, then every time you look at those steps you'll only see the things you could've done better. You have far better ways to spend your time.

When we recarpeted an 1800 sq ft house it took a four-man crew less than half a day. While we were there we were able to spend our time working on the yard, fixing plumbing leaks, touching up paint, cleaning windows, and generally doing all the tasks that hardly anyone can hire someone to do properly. Carpeting is a high-skill task, and the money you pay those guys frees you up to do the low-skill tasks that not even a handyman or a housecleaner would want to tackle.

But I'm not trying to change your mind. If you're dead-set on doing this yourself then it will no doubt be a very educational experience...
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Old 09-25-2008, 11:40 AM   #15
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I've never installed new carpeting, but many times I took the carpeting up in living room to work on the subfloor, and then laid it back myself. After that I would never install new carpeting myself.

I found I could just barely wrangle the carpeting myself... A whole room's carpet is quite heavy and you have the problem that until it's cut it won't lay down in the room at all. I had enough trouble wrangling the already-cut carpeting back into place that I would never touch larger pieces without two people, at least one of who has done this before.

I'd estimate that if I could manage to install the carpeting myself it would take me 5 to 10 times as long as the professionals. Not worth it.
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Old 09-25-2008, 01:02 PM   #16
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Thanks Nords, and others. I am beginning to reconsider, as I have not heard nor talked with anyone who said "Sure, you can do it, and as well or better than one who does it for a living". I have just experienced SO much shoddy workmanship (and by reputable companies/contractors), even at the commercial level. Again, much of it may be because of my, um, detailed, personality. It makes me want to do it myself to get it done right - BUT the only hitch with carpeting is one bad cut and you can't cover it up. Drywall, electrical, plumbing, painting, drop ceiling, framing, all of these have a bit of "leverage". I am quite sure I can take my time and get the stairs looking great.
My concern with the tackless strips is them pulling out of the concrete - hence my thought of using epoxy (that was suggested at a DIY site). I think I will talk with HD or Lowe's people to get their opinion, buy the tack strips, begin installing them without epoxy, check them for tightness, and go from there. If it seems that they need a little more bond, use some epoxy.
After putting down the strips (carpeting installers would charge an additional $1.50 per square foot to install strips-that's almost a grand!), I may reconsider having the rest done by "professionals" - depending on how many fingers/toes I have left, and the condition of my knees!
Thanks everyone for their input.
Bob
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Old 09-25-2008, 02:07 PM   #17
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Holy cow, thats a lot of money to put down tack strips for 650 sq feet.
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Old 09-25-2008, 02:22 PM   #18
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I hear ya on the epoxy-issue CFB. I'll definitely take it easy on the glue - maybe 2 dabs per strip. I just feel more comfortable that the strip will not pull out with a combination of glue and nails.

At w*rk, they laid carpet squares, and it looks pretty nice actually, but it is a little bit lacking in the cushioning. That would be a very easy option, but the hard surface is what is holding me back from choosing this option.

I considered engineered hardwood, which, at Lumber Liquidators, would be pretty cost-effective, but again, it would be "hard" bouncing around on this floor.

Has anyone else actually laid carpeting themselves, and if so, would you do it again or pay to have it done?
Thanks for all responses.
Bob
If you use engineered hardwood it would be best to put in a sub-floor over the concrete, which will cost more money.

If you don't have the carpet yet I would negotiate a discount on an installer.
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Old 09-25-2008, 04:02 PM   #19
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We just got an estimate for $588 for a 25x15 foot concrete floor at FIL's house covered in indoor/outdoor carpeting. Sounds reasonable to me especially since my knee already hurts without kicking anything with it.

Easy decision to write that check.
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Old 09-26-2008, 08:00 AM   #20
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Holy cow, thats a lot of money to put down tack strips for 650 sq feet.
That's what I thought too. Buck and a quarter / buck and a half per square foot additional might not sound like that much, but when you do the math, it's a ton.
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