Laying a traditional woven carpet can be a difficult task for the amateur to undertake, because the carpet must be correctly tensioned across the room by using gripper strips and a carpet stretcher if it is to wear well. Because of the cost of such carpet, it may be considered best to leave the job to professionals. However, there is no reason why you should not get some practice by laying less-expensive foam-backed carpet in, for example, a spare bedroom. It is possible to disguise any slight inaccuracies that creep into the cutting and fitting process more easily here than when using smooth sheet floor coverings such as vinyl, so a job such as this would be an excellent introduction to the general technique of laying roll floor coverings.
Start by putting down a paper or cloth underlay on the floor, taping the joins and stapling down the underlay so that it cannot creep as you lay down the carpet. Unroll the carpet right across the room, with the excess lapping up the walls. Using a sharp utility knife, roughly trim the excess all around the room, leaving approximately 5 cm/2 in for final trimming. Carefully make small cuts at any external corners such as around a chimney breast (fireplace projection), and let the tongues fall back into the alcoves, then trim off the waste carpet nearly across the face of the chimney breast.
Next, press the carpet into internal corners and mark the corner point with a finger. Make cuts to remove the triangle of carpet from the internal angle. Finally, trim the perimeter by drawing a knife along the angle between the skirtings (baseboards) and wall, and secure the edges with double-sided adhesive rape. Fit a threshold (saddle) strip across the door opening to give a neat finish.
- Before laying a foam-backed carpet, put down a paper or cloth underlay to keep the foam from sticking to the floor. Tape any joins and staple the underlay in place.
- Stick double-sided adhesive tape all around the perimeter of the room, leaving the top backing paper on the tape. Unroll the carpet and position it so that it laps up the room walls.
- Butt the edge of the carpet up against the longest straight wall in the room. Peel the backing paper off the tape end. Bed the edge into place.
- Work the carpet across the floor to the opposite wall to ensure that it is lying flat. Trim this edge against the skirting (baseboard) and then tape it down as before.
- Make cuts at internal and external corners in order to bed the carpet on to the tape. Trim excess carpet by drawing a knife along the angle, taking care not to trim away too much.
- Use adhesive seaming tape to join pieces of carpet together where necessary in particularly large rooms. Applied pressure from a wallpaper seam roller will ensure a good, lasting bond.
CUTTING CARPET TILES
Carpet tiles are among the simplest floor coverings to lay, because they are highly tolerant of any slight inaccuracy in cutting to fit. The cheapest types are usually plain in colour and have a very short pile or a corded appearance, while more expensive tiles may have a longer pile and are available in patterns as well as plain colours. Most are designed to be loose-laid, with just the edges and door thresholds (saddles) secured with hands of adhesive or double-sided tape. This makes it easy to lift individual tiles for cleaning or to even out wear.
Most carpet tiles are marked on the back with an arrow to indicate the pile direction. Align these for a plain effect, or lay them at right-angles to create a chequer board effect. When you are satisfied with the layout, lift the perimeter tiles and put down double-sided tape all around the twin. Peel the backing paper off the top of the tape and press the tiles into place. Finish off the doorway with a Threshold (saddle) strip.
- Measure the size of the cut tile required and mark the back accordingly. Cut the tile from the back on a cutting board, using a sharp utility knife and a metal straightedge.
- After cutting cleanly through the backing, separate the 2 halves and trim away any frayed pile with scissors. Lay the cut tile in place.