Carpet Installation

Finding a qualified carpet installer

When you´re decorating your home or office, flooring is one of the key design elements that ties the elements of a room together. In addition to appearance, carpet suppresses noise and adds to the comfort of your home. Soft, warm carpet is one of the great comforts of housing, especially on cold mornings.

You can choose and purchase your carpet from a variety of sources, then hire a carpet installer to put it in. This may save you money, because carpet stores and designers collect a tidy commission for installation. Of course if you take this approach it´s up to you to qualify your installer.

How carpet is installed

An experienced installer uses a basic process:

  1. Inspect flooring surface to assess condition.
  2. Correct any imperfections that may show through the carpet or create uneven wear patterns.
  3. Measure area, plan layout.
  4. Install tackless strip to floor next to wall.
  5. Install carpet pad or underlay.
  6. Prepare carpet for installation: roll out, measure, mark, and cut.
  7. With a knee kicker, position carpet, then stretch to fit evenly.
  8. Rough cut excess carpet.
  9. Use power stretcher to stretch carpet, then hook to tackless strips.
  10. Finish with wall trimmer.

The installer may sew or join seams for very large carpets using a special heat-activated plastic tape.

Hiring a good installer

Some states require contractor licensing for carpet installers, but most don´t. Regardless of state requirements, ask for copies of licensing or certification if available, insurance and bonding information, and Workers´ Comp if necessary. Make sure that insurance coverage is current. If there is a license, contact the licensing agency to verify that the contractor is in good standing.

The amount of time an installer has been working is important too. Most carpet pros consider five years to be the minimum amount of experience necessary before an installer can be considered a qualified craftsman. And the more complex your carpeting project, the more experience is required.

Consider the type of installations the installer is most experienced with. If all his experience is in residential and custom homes, you´re probably in good hands. If he says apartments or commercial installations, then you should qualify him further. They are not the same and there could be problems later down the line.

Speaking of problems, get references, then check them. Get at least three--more if the project is larger. Ask for a couple references that are at least six months old. Carpet installation problems may not show up right away. Contact the references to find out if problems have surfaced and if so, how the installer resolved them. Find out about the warranty your installer offers. If there is a post-installation problem, you´ll want someone you can count on.

Get an estimate in writing that specifies the exact type of carpeting, the estimated number of square yards, the grade of padding, and installation costs. Make sure each installer provides the same information so you can make a one-to-one comparison between your estimates. Research the different grades of carpet to make sure you get reasonable quality. Don´t assume that the lowest estimate with the cheaper carpet is the better deal. (And if you can afford it, upgrade the padding. The carpet will wear better and be more comfortable for longer.)

Working with your installer

Once you´ve selected your carpet installer, get everything in writing. All materials and labor should be specified in the contract as well as start and finish dates. Before the project starts, ask how many assistants your installer will be using on the project and how much experience they have. Make sure that the terms of the warranty are clear, so you understand exactly what is covered and what is not.

What about the old carpet?

Some carpet installers will vacuum, remove, and dispose of the existing carpet. And some won´t. Make sure you discuss this ahead of time with the installer. Installers who perform this service will add it as a line item on the estimate.

If you are going to remove the carpet yourself, prepare for the carpet installation by thoroughly vacuuming. This minimizes dust and dirt. Of course, even doing that may not prepare you for the dirt and dust you´ll still need to clean up after the carpets are removed. Once the old carpet is removed, vacuum thoroughly again. There is nothing quite as annoying as some little goober under the carpet that you can´t get at, but you feel every time you walk on it with your bare feet.

Carpeting and health considerations

If you have allergies or know that you´re sensitive to environmental chemicals, you should know that freshly installed carpeting made from synthetic fibers like polyesters may give off "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs). These airborne compounds may cause headaches, nausea, sinus problems including congestion, or fatigue. If this is a concern, consider the following:

  1. Buy a natural fiber carpet. Cotton and wool don´t usually produce VOCs.
  2. Request that new carpet be aired for at least a few days before it is installed in your home, then leave the windows open after the carpet installation.
  3. Avoid any installation method that requires adhesives or glues to install the carpets.

For a carpet pro to help with your installation, contact Next Step Remodeling Small Repairs .

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