Carpet installation is not a frequent do-it-yourself project; you would most often deal with looking for the best way to cut carpet to remove it from your home. You would most often leave the installation to the professionals who do this for a living, and installation could be included in the price.
However, there are times you could come across some carpet to repurpose, or you have two pieces where you need to run a seam, even if it is the most challenging part of carpet installation.
In our guide, we cover all reasons you could need to know how to cut a carpet. By the end, it doesn’t matter what your home renovation project entails; you can see whether you could be cutting the carpet yourself, or the task needs a professional to make your home improvement look polished.
Is It Easy to Cut Carpet Yourself?
It may seem like a straightforward job for cutting carpet, but there is a certain art to doing it right. Knowing how to cut carpet properly can save you time and money.
- A utility knife, particularly a sharp utility knife, is your best friend for this job. Cutting the carpet for a big room could mean having to change the blade more than once, but the rewards will be with it.
- When possible, work on the carpet’s reverse as the flat backing means no pile to get in your way.
- Use a straight edge to guide your marker and cut complex shapes using short, incremental cuts to improve accuracy. You can also make a cardboard template of the desired shape if it is big.
- Because older homes’ walls aren’t often perfectly square, it’s best to measure the length of the room with your tape measure in a couple of areas to get different measurements. Do the same for the width.
With these home improvement carpet cutting tips, here is a more detailed insight into how to cut and installing carpet. (Read How To Get Food Coloring Out Of Carpet)
Make a Clean Cut
Cut the carpet using a razor-sharp knife, which will be the most important tool you have for cutting carpet. You can use a utility knife with a replaceable blade; just ensure you replace the utility knife’s blade before starting.
Push Blade Against Carpet
Hold the knife with your dominant hand, the blade inclined away from you. The blade should point down, and the tip should touch the carpet. The toughest part of carpet cutting is maneuvering the hard surface against a flat floor, the carpet backing.
Avoid digging the blade too deeply in the carpet. You risk dulling or breaking your knife and ruining the subfloor.
Pull Your Blade in a Straight Line
Using the blade, draw a straight line. Once the knife’s tip has pierced the carpet, slowly pull back on the knife. You should feel the blade backing give way. Use a straightedge to guide your activities, pausing every two to three feet to adjust. If you don’t have a straightedge, feel for the backing’s seam as following a seam makes cutting straight easier.
Replace the knife blade if necessary. Your original blade will quickly lose its edge after slicing through several feet of thick backing material.
Can carpet be cut with scissors?
Although the blade is shorter than some other options, these scissors are versatile for heavy carpets and tricky cutting situations. Angled blades, spring-loaded grip, and high-quality stainless steel make these a great help. However, you only use scissors in certain situations.
1. Removing Old Carpet
Begin with an area a few feet from the wall. Make a 4-5-inch slit in the fabric big enough for your hand to slip through.
If you can’t remove the carpet in one piece due to room size or shape, cutting it every few feet will help.
2. Pull the Carpet
Pull the loose carpet with your free hand. To remove the carpet from the floor, reach inside the slit you cut. You can now finish cutting without ever touching the floor.
Hand-starting a stapled or adhesive-tacked carpet may be difficult. To grip, use a putty knife to chip away at one edge. (Read How To Cut Laminate)
Keep cutting as you pull up the carpet. Lifting and slashing simultaneously should allow you to cut large pieces quickly. Every few feet, move back and grab the loose edge again.
3. Remove the Outer Edge
Pry up the carpet’s edge. Once you’ve finished cutting the carpet, use a claw hammer, pry bar, or set of pliers to remove it from the walls and corners. Hand-walk around the room to loosen the rest of the carpet.
If you’re having issues, use a utility knife to separate the carpet from the baseboards.
Remove any staples or dried adhesive clumps with a floor scraper, then vacuum. After cleaning, you can put your new carpet.
Cutting Carpet for Installation
1. Measure the Room
- Use a tape measure to accurately measure the room’s length and width before installing a new carpet. Ensure you order 10-20% extra carpet, so you have enough to cover the floor.
- You’ll also need carpet installation tools, materials, and supplies, including tack strips, glue, and edging. Don’t forget gloves as carpet tacks are sharp.
2. Prepare the Subfloor
Preparing the subfloor for carpet installation is first.
- Remove any carpet or flooring and remove all entry doors, including doors on a closet.
- You can leave the baseboards in place for wall-to-wall carpeting. You can also replace the baseboards.
3. Install Carpet Strips
- Cut carpet tack strips to fit the room’s perimeter using a handsaw or snips.
- Face the tack points of the strips toward the wall. Wrap tack strips around door frames, although leave the doorway clear.
- Keep a two-thirds carpet-thick space between the walls and the tack strips.
- To install carpet over concrete, use masonry tacks or epoxy adhesive to secure the strips to the floor.
4. Install Your Carpet Padding
Installing new carpet means new carpet padding, and both carpet and carpet padding come in predetermined lengths, so you may have to overlap one piece to create a seam.
- Position the carpet pad on the subfloor, so seams in the carpet run parallel to seams in the pad.
- Cut the carpet pad to the room’s length using your sharp utility knife. The carpet pad should reach the tack strips on all sides but not cover them. Attach the carpet pad with a staple hammer.
- Assemble the carpet pad and staple it at the seams, alternating the staples.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for carpet adhesive when laying carpet pads on concrete.
5. Measure & Cut Your Carpet
- Measure the room’s longest wall and add 6 inches to the length. Unroll enough carpet and use the utility knife to notch the carpet at the measurement.
- Roll your carpet with the backing facing out and draw a chalk line along the carpet’s back at the notch.
- Place a board underneath the carpet, so you have a stable cutting surface. To cut the carpet, guide the knife along the chalk line using a straightedge.
6. Lay Carpet to Secure Seams
- Unroll your carpet as you come to lay it. Place the backing face-down, so it sits on the padding. The carpet seams must meet, the padding seams at right angles.
- Keep 3 inches of carpet against the wall and add relief cuts in the corners to keep your carpet flat.
- Unroll more carpeting to cover the floor, and make certain the carpet pile runs in the same direction for all pieces.
- To join pieces, use heat-activated seaming tape, and ensure the adjacent edges are straight but not overlapping.
- Lift and rebend one seam so you can slip it halfway under the carpet.
- Place a heated seaming iron in the seam and slide it along the seam as suggested by the tape maker to activate the tape adhesive. Keep heavy things on top of the adhesive as it cures.
7. Fasten the First Wall
- Place a knee kicker, so it is 3 inches from a long wall corner.
- Stretch and pull wrinkles or slack from your carpet as you connect it to the strips.
- Trim any excess carpet from the edge of the first wall using a wall carpet trimmer. To do this, set the wall trimmer to carpet thickness.
- Push against the carpeting, so it is snug against the baseboard as you guide it along the wall.
- Now, use a carpet tucker or stair tool to tuck the cut edge underneath the installed baseboard.
8. Stretch Your Carpet
- Move the carpet along the first wall to the opposite wall and stretch it over the floor using a carpet stretcher with a lever and make sure the stretcher’s head is several inches from the wall as the fangs grip the carpet.
- Pull the lever to stretch the carpet and then hook the carpet on the tack strip in front of the power stretcher.
- Trim carpet using your wall trimmer and tuck the edges as you did before
- Repeat the process to stretch, anchor, cut, and tuck on all the remaining walls.
9. Fit Your Transition Strip
- Install carpet transition strips at carpet-to-flooring areas to finish your DIY professional carpet installation. You can use a latex seam sealer to prevent any unraveling of the carpet’s edge. (Read How To Get Hair Dye Out Of The Carpet)
- Install a binder bar or transition strip over the edge with a brad nailer before you go around and replace any removed doors, baseboards, and trim.