How to lay a carpet
Carpet can make a room feel warmer. When thinking about carpeting a room, a good cushioned underlay will make your carpet last longer, more comfortable to walk on and provide more sound insulation. Hessian or woven-backed carpets are generally of a higher quality than those that are foam-backed, and need to be stretched and attached to gripper when they're fitted.
Start by watching our great video guide below, split into 2 parts to make it easy to follow.
Carpet gripper comprises long, thin pieces of wood with small sharp pins that hold the carpet in place. Make sure you wear gloves when you handle it, as the pins are very sharp. You should fit gripper all the way around the edge of your room, except across the doorway (where you'll need a threshold bar instead). You can fit it to concrete and wooden floors, and it comes with nails in place so it's ready to fix.
Top tip - Fitting gripper in awkward areas
For hard-to-reach areas (like under a radiator), re-position the nails closer to the edge of the gripper and hold them in place with a long bar. As you can hit this with your hammer further back, you won't risk damaging your radiator.
First, check for hidden wires or pipes with a pipe and cable detector, and mark their positions on the floor. If you find any or if you need to fit gripper in places where it's awkward to use a hammer - you'll need to secure it with gripper adhesive instead.
Cut the gripper to size with a small saw or pair of tinsnips, and fasten the lengths together. You'll see the gripper is angled on one edge - this should face the skirting board. Try to leave a gap of 7mm (or roughly 3/4 the thickness of the carpet) between your skirting boards and the gripper.
Secure any lengths that you'll be sticking down. Pull out the nails using carpenter's pincers and squeeze on some gripper adhesive. You can then hammer the remaining gripper in place, taking care not to damage the skirting.
Carpets are only as good as their underlay, so it's worth investing in quality. If you also use floor lining paper it stops your underlay from sticking to the floor, and keeps dust and dirt from passing through to the carpet. It makes your carpet last longer and improves insulation, too. Remember that fitting carpet is hard on the knees, so it's a good idea to wear knee pads while you're doing it.
Start by rolling out the floor lining paper, and securing it by using a hammer tacker or heavy-duty staple gun. You could also fix it by spraying adhesive round the edges. Make sure the rows overlap slightly.
Loose-lay the underlay, rubber side face down. Then use a craft knife to cut it level with the gripper rods.
Butt the rows and join them with a heavy-duty cloth or carpet tape. Be careful not to overlap the underlay, though - it needs to be smooth and level.
Make sure you store your carpet carefully before laying it. You'll need to keep it rolled rather than folded to avoid any problems when you want to lay it flat and stretch it. Carpet is very heavy and hard to move, so it's a good idea to have someone on hand to help you carry and position it. Carpet fitters use a stretcher (or knee kicker) to stretch hessian-backed carpet onto the gripper. This has a flat plate at one end with teeth that grip the carpet, and a padded cushion at the other that the fitter pushes (rather than kicks) with one knee.
Start by laying your carpet loosely in position. Stand in the corner with one foot under the carpet, then smooth and push it into place using your other foot. Cut the carpet to size if you need to, leaving between 50 and 75mm extra at each edge.
Cut a vertical line in the excess directly above the corners, then trim the overlapping triangles so you can lay the carpet flat to the gripper.
Start fitting your carpet from the longest wall, and work back towards the doorway. Using a carpet tucker, firmly crease the carpet against the skirting to mark a fold line.
Using a dolphin-handled knife with a new sharp blade, hold the carpet flat to the floor and cut along the carpet edge. You'll need to cut slightly higher than the carpet surface (about 5mm). Be careful not to mark the skirting-board when you do this.
Position the carpet stretcher, teeth downwards, about 25mm from the skirting. Then push firmly against the padded end with your knee to hook the carpet onto the gripper on either side of the corner. Push the excess carpet down between the skirting and the gripper with the carpet tucker. Repeat this all along the first wall. Then trim, stretch and fix the carpet along the two adjacent walls, and finally the opposite wall.
For difficult shapes (such as around a door frame) make several vertical cuts down the edge, then trim the carpet flush with the knife.
If you need to fit the carpet around a pipe, make a straight cut from the edge of the carpet to the centre of the pipe. Then press the carpet around the pipe, and trim it by running the knife round the base at a 45 degrees angle until the carpet lies flat.
When fitting carpet across a doorway, you'll need to cut it in line with the edge of the flooring in the next room. Fit a suitable threshold bar in place and push the carpet edge beneath it with a bolster or screwdriver.
A door threshold bar creates a neat and safe join from the flooring in one room to the next. There's a wide choice of types and finishes. Some are ideal where floors of the same height meet, while others are ideal where the floors are different heights and surfaces.
Try and position the threshold bar centrally under your door, so it can't be seen on either side when the door is closed. Measure and cut it to the right length with a hacksaw.
Next, check for any hidden pipes and cables under your floor. If it's made of concrete, drill some holes with a power drill and masonry bit and insert wall plugs before fitting your threshold bar. If you've got a wooden floor, make pilot holes with a bradawl and screw the bar to the floor.