Carpet fitting: a how to guide

Carpet fitting is a service we offer for free here at United Carpets and Beds. But should you fancy having a go at fitting your own carpet, we want to give you the definitive advice to follow. This handy how-to guide has been put together to make carpet fitting uncomplicated and straightforward.

This guide will comprise of five easy to navigate sections;





Door bars


If you want to do a good job of carpet fitting, you will need to tool up. a list of what you’ll need – if you’re missing any of the kit from the list, your nearest DIY store should have it available.

  • Kneepads and safety gloves – always wear these when working with flooring.
  • Tape measure and pencil (for measurement purposes – see our guide on how to measure a carpet here).
  • Masking tape.
  • Pipe and cable detector
  • Hardboard sheets
  • Carpet grippers
  • Hacksaw
  • Hammer or nail gun
  • Screwdriver
  • Carpet tape
  • Craft or Stanley Knife
  • Carpet stretcher
  • Drill
  • Carpet tucker
  • Vacuum Cleaner

Got all that together? Let’s get started.

The Subfloor

Your subfloor – the stuff underneath your carpet – needs to be properly prepared if you want your carpet fitting and functioning as you hope.

1)      Once your old carpet has been removed, have a look at your floorboards; are they damaged? If so, pull them up and put down new ones – it’s cheaper and simpler to put new ones in than repair damaged ones.

2)      At this stage, it’s paramount you check your floor with a pipe and cable detector. Knowing where anything important is beforehand will save you a possible headache down the road.

3)      If you need to level your floor, use hardboard sheets. The benefit is twofold – they will help insulate your room from any underfloor draught too.

4)      To install: Condition these before by spraying them with water on the ‘rough’ side which will be laid facing up towards your floorboards – this is to give what’s above some texture to stick to.

5)      Leave them to air dry in the in the room they are going to be installed into; this will reduce the risk of expansion when it is fully installed. 3mm boards are the ideal size to use.

6)      Hammer the sheets in place with 19mm nails – but just be mindful that you don’t pierce through to any of the pipes or cables that you found below.

7)      When you finish a row, the final board in it will need to be cut to size – use the offcut from that board to start the next row.

8)      Ideally, place these in an irregular grid pattern to ensure the ‘end’ joint is not meeting another ‘end’ joint – maximising stability and minimise give.

Some top tips for nailing your boards in place:

1)      Start in the middle and move out to edge. The middle nail and the nail directly next to it should be around 225mm apart but the rest you can leave about 150mm. The final nail needs to be less than 15mm away from the edge. Use a spacer like a piece of wood for consistent results.

2)      Always space and secure your nails in a pyramid formation to prevent the board from cracking. Again, the benefit of following this method is twofold – the other benefit is that the floorboard underneath won’t squeak underfoot if the hardboard properly secured. Be sure to nail the edges where two sheets meet before nailing anywhere else.

3)      If you’ve followed these steps, you should be ready to put down your carpet grippers. Grippers are 1m long rods with preinstalled nails or screws to help keep everything secure. When nailing or screwing the gripper in place, remember your earlier scan with the pipe and cable detector. Anywhere you noted had a pipe or cable, use adhesive to secure instead. Use a hacksaw on the gripper if it needs cutting to size and securing.

The Underlay

It’s always worth investing in underlay when carpet fitting. It helps your carpet stay in prime condition both in structure and appearance. It cushions your step; making it more comfortable to walk on. And it also insulates your home by trapping heat.

Particularly, carpets with action backing always benefit from the comfort of a good underlay. The same is true of twist or Berber loop pile carpets.

To fit your underlay:

1)      Lay it in the area you would like it to cover with the rubber side facing downwards.

2)      Then, cut the underlay so it is the same level as the grippers using your craft or Stanley knife.

3)      After this, push the edges together and join them with tape.

4)      Make sure that they don’t overlap, are level and flat.

The Carpet

It’s now to time to fit a carpet in the room you’ve prepared.

Before you begin:

Make sure you have your following tools to hand

  • Carpet stretcher
  • Carpet tucker
  • Craft or Stanley knife
It is now time for you to start fitting your carpet. 

 1)      Loosely lay the carpet in place. You’ll remember from our carpet measurement guide that we advise you to leave 75mm of excess material.

2)      Push this excess up against the wall and smooth the carpet down with your foot so it’s flat and relatively level. It will be completely smoothed down later on when the carpet stretcher is used.

3)      Use the carpet tucker to secure the carpet to the grippers.

4)      Next, cut a vertical line into the corner of the carpet with your craft or Stanley knife. This will make the carpet easier to flex into place. Take your time and gradually cut as you push it into the corner; do it in stages if it helps.

5)      Once it’s secured in the corners, fold the excess over and cut it away. Go steady though; be careful of cutting through the excess onto the carpet you would like to keep. Leave some excess for further use.

6)      Use the carpet stretcher to roll the carpet onto the grippers you installed. To use it, leave a 25mm gap between the tool and the carpet. Then, line the plate towards the edge with the teeth facing down and use your knee to push the carpet onto the grippers. Push the carpet until the excess that remains is secured.

7)      Work around the room, securing the wall opposite where you started last. If necessary, hammer the carpet tucker onto the gripper to further flatten the edge.

8)      If the excess won’t flatten, cut into it at 45° angle vertically to further and repeat the carpet stretching process. When fitting in a doorway, make sure the carpet is in line with the next room.

The next step will be installing a door bar.

Door Bars

For a top-quality finish when carpet fitting, you will need to install door bars. Door bars are the bars that separate the flooring between different rooms. When installing a door bar, correct installation means that it is not visible when the door is closed. This is what we call installation across the threshold.

There are different door bars for different purposes. You’ll need to consider factors like height and type of flooring that is being installed before you make your choice.

Again, remember to use the pipe and wire detector before installing the door bar.

Installing a door bar is simple enough

1)      Make a pair of pilot holes where you’ll need to screw into the subfloor

2)      Place the bar with screws in over it.

3)      Then, screw the door bar into the pilot holes and secure it.

Post installation

Don’t be alarmed if your carpet sheds at first – it’s the normal thing to happen. Just vacuum as often as possible to counteract it; ideally every day. For further information how to vacuum your carpet, see our guide.

Ventilate the room for a few days after the installation in case of any odours caused by the underlay. This will pass after a few days.

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