Let me start first by saying that when it comes to large-scale, complicated home projects – I am the first to recommend we call up the professional. It's typically the wife who thinks we can take it on. So, understand that installing carpet and getting the tools necessary to do it is not a natural instinct – and something that I readily would shy away from. That said – after watching and participating in a carpet install – I can honestly tell you that (with some hard work and patience) you can probably handle this on your own.*
The carpet install was performed by a gentleman from Empire Today who came to our house to replace some carpet in the living room and stairs. I had never actually seen a carpet installation get done – so I decided to ask Mark (the installer) a ton of questions and have him walk me through the whole process. A 10+ year veteran of carpet installation – he provided me with some great tips and best practices.
Let's first start by talking about the tools you will need to do a successful installation. Mark had a lot of tools at his disposal, so if you don't have these on-hand – no worries. You can rent them at your local rental store or borrow them from a friend.
- Linoleum knife. There are other tools/knives you can use – but Mark swore by his linoleum knife. This thing will cut and slice carpet with ease and you can use it to tuck in the carpet if you do the stairway.
- Carpet seam roller. This handy tool will help to meld two pieces of carpet after seaming them together. You can also use it to “fluff up” carpet that needs a little life.
- Large magnet/weight. This is a dual-purpose tool that allows you to “suck up” any staples that may be on the floorboard after you tear out the original carpet. It also serves as a weight that you can place over a seamed carpet edge.
- Carpet tape. When you have to seam two pieces of carpet together – you'll need to use this tape on the underside of the carpet. There are different kinds you can get – from no-heat to fiberglass-based tape. Mark personally used the tape that required heat from an iron.
- Trowel and Trimmer. These tools will help you to tuck in the carpet against the wall and also to get a clean, crisp trimmed edge when you cut away the carpet.
- Power stretcher. Probably one of the most essential tools for carpet installation is the stretcher. Mark used one with a tail that dug into the carpet and stretched the carpet for a great fit (it almost looked like he was going to ruin the carpet with the deadly-looking thing!). You may also want a knee kicker – which essentially does the same thing but, doesn't (according to Mark) get the best “stretch”. A power stretcher can be a little spendy – so might be best to rent this one or borrow it.
- Bonding iron. Another essential tool that will heat up the carpet tape to give the two pieces of carpet a perfect fit.
Of course, you'll also need a tack strip if there isn't one present on the existing floor, a staple gun (if wood floor), and a hammer (that you can also use to roll over the tack strip when the carpet is installed so that the tacks won't affect anyone walking over them).
Hope this gets you off and running! Good luck!
(*While carpet installation can be done yourself – you are risking self-injury, a loss of pride, and foul-mouth syndrome. Be warned.)