How to Lay Foam-Backed Carpet


Carpet with its own built-in foam underlay is much easier to lay than carpet which has a separate underlay. No gripper strips need to be fitted, underlay does not have to be cut or fitted and no stretching of the carpet is involved.

If a timber floor is level enough not to need a hardboard covering before laying carpet it should be covered with a paper underlay to prevent dirt blowing up between the floorboards and marking or damaging the carpet Paper underlay will also stop the foam backing from sticking to the floorboards. Sheets of newspaper could be used, but proper paper underlay is inexpensive and is available from most carpet retailers.

Form-Backed Carpet

Paper underlay comes in rolls and can be cut with scissors or a trimming knife. Starting at the end of the room, cut to size and lay out. Lay the next piece alongside, overlapping by around 25 mm (1 in). The last piece can be overlapped by more than this or cut down in width to size.

The paper underlay can be held down with double-sided adhesive tape (or with masking tape) or can be secured to the floor using a staple gun. It should be positioned just in from the skirting boards (baseboards) to allow room for the double-sided adhesive tape which secures the main carpet.

It is generally easier to lay foam-backed carpet as a single piece, though in larger rooms you will have to lay two or more pieces joined together.

LAYING A SINGLE FOAM-BACKED CARPET

Foam-backed carpet can shrink or stretch once it is laid out, so it is a good idea to cut it roughly to size, allowing around 25 mm (1 in) at each edge for cutting, and then to leave it for a few days before sticking it down to the floor. The carpet can be cut with a pair of scissors or with a trimming knife working from the back.

Where the carpet has to be fitted into an alcove or a bay, use the trimming knife to make a cut parallel with the sides of the alcove or bay, still allowing a 25 mm (1 in) trimming allowance. Before securing the carpet, roll it up and position it in the room across the corners so that you can get at the floor in front of the skirtings (baseboards) to put down some 25 mm (1 in) double-sided adhesive tape. Normally, it is sufficient to have tape around the outside, but in large rooms, the carpet manufacturer may recommend having strips of tape across the room at intermediate points Double-sided tape is easy to put down, but make sure you leave the top backing in place and press the tape firmly down on to the surface (a wallpaper seam roller will help here).

Now reposition the carpet in the correct place and roll it up to the wall. Push the carpet well into the join between the wall and the skirting, so that you can see where it needs to be cut and make the final cut with a sharp trimming knife – hold the knife at an angle away from the wall with the blade resting on the skirting to ensure an even cut. Apply latex adhesive to the cut edge to prevent the carpet from fraying.

Now roll the carpet slightly back and peel the top backing off the double-sided adhesive tape. Press the carpet down on to the tape making sure it reaches the wall and that it adheres firmly.

Where the carpet finishes at the doorway, screw down an aluminium cover strip to cover the carpet edge. On solid floors, drill holes for wallplugs to secure the screws.

If a radiator pipe passes up through the floor, you will have to fit the carpet around it. The best way to do this is with a piece of copper pipe the same size as the radiator pipe (usually 15 mm), with one end sharpened. This can then be used with a rotary motion to cut a precise hole in the carpet (make sure this is in the right place) and a slot is then cut from the edge of the carpet to the hole to enable the carpet to be fitted around the pipe. Put down some extra pieces of double-sided tape around the pipe to hold the carpet in place.

JOINING TWO CARPETS

Where there are two pieces of foam-backed carpet to lay, you will need a strip of 50 mm (2 in) double-sided adhesive tape at the point where they meet – any paper underlay should finish short of this length of tape rather than underneath it.

Laying Form-Backed Carpet

Butt the two pieces of carpet up against one another, checking that the edges meet all the way along. If not, overlap the two pieces by around 18 mm and then cut through both pieces with a sharp trimming knife, using a metal straight-edge as a guide and with a plank of wood under the carpet to prevent damage to the floor. The two narrow trimmed strips can then be removed leaving a perfect join.

Lay the larger of the two pieces of carpet first, centring it on the tape (with the top backing now removed). Apply latex adhesive all along the edge and then put the second piece of carpet in place along this join, removing any excess adhesive with a damp cloth or sponge.

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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