How to Stretch Carpeting
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How to Stretch Carpeting

How to stretch your carpeting to remove wrinkles and bubbles to extend the life of your flooring and improve the look of your home.

As carpeting gets older and experiences normal traffic and wear, the backing stretches causing the carpet to buckle or wrinkle. At this point if the carpet is in relatively good condition, you may need to re-stretch it. Aside from normal wear, errors in installation or water damage can also cause a carpet to loosen and require re-stretching. Re-stretching your carpet will also help protect the carpet backing and extend the life of the carpet.

Not only will this extend the life of your flooring, if you are planning on selling your home you can save money by having your carpeting cleaned and then re-stretching it to increase the resale value of your home.

Stretching carpet requires a few specialized tools, some skill, and a plan. When most people think about carpeting tools, they picture a knee kicker. This tools is used for making small adjustments in corners and up against walls. The tool that you actually need is a power stretcher or simply a carpet stretcher. This has a pad that is set against the baseboard and a spiked head that grabs the carpet. There is an adjustable tube that can be extended out from 4 to 20 feet. Once the head and base are set, there is an arm that is pushed down to stretch the carpet. A carpet stretcher can stretch the carpeting around 1 percent of the length, while this doesn’t sound like much, even a room 8 feet wide can be stretched about an inch.

Tools and Materials

Carpet

Knee pads

Tack strips

Knee kicker

 

Power stretcher

 

Wall trimmer or utility knife

 

Stair tool

 

Scrap 2x4

Vacuum

Carpeting tools such as kickers, trimmers, and stretchers can be rented at home improvement stores or rental centers.

Instructions

Check the layout of your room. Look for any seams in the carpeting and be careful not to pull them apart when stretching. Look for any floor registers in the carpet. You will want to be careful not to stretch the carpet so much that the holes do not line up with the cut out in the floor. You may want to make the wall with the floor registers your base wall and stretch to the opposite side of the room. If not you may have to patch the hole.

1. Remove all the furniture from the room. Stretching should be done over the entire carpet at one time.

2. Pull up the carpeting off the tack strips around the perimeter of the room. Inspect the tack strips to ensure that they are secure. Attempting to stretch the carpet with loose tack strips will cause the carpeting to return to its original state.

3. Remove the carpet from tack strips at doorways and entrances.

4. Roll back the carpet and inspect the carpet padding. Replace any worn areas with new carpet padding of the same composition and thickness. Tape any tears in the padding and staple it in place.

5. Attach a small section of carpet to the tack strip in a corner section of the room. Position the toothed end of your knee kicker tool about 3 inches from the wall in front of the tack strip. Drive your knee into the padded end of the knee kicker tool to drive the carpet forward. Note: The tack strip on this wall holds the carpeting in place while it is being stretched.

6. Position the carpet stretcher with one end against the wall where you attached the carpet with the knee kicker. Place the head of the stretcher approximately 6 inches from the wall directly across from the carpet you have already attached. Adjust the extension tubes, if necessary, to reach across your floor.

 

7. Close the lever of the carpet stretcher to push and stretch your carpet over the tack strips on the opposite side of the room. Attach a section of carpet using the knee kicker and the carpet stretcher, and then stop to trim your carpet.

8. Trim the excess carpet using a wall trimmer or utility knife. Tuck the edge of the carpet behind the tack strip and under the baseboard trim with a stair tool.

9. Install metal strips or tack strips in doorway if removed. Vacuum along the walls to clean up any carpet trimmings.

Tips

  • Do not over stretch or you will risk tearing seams or even the carpet itself.
  • Adjust the length of the teeth on the knee kicker with the dial on the head.
  • Do not attempt to use only a knee kicker to stretch your carpet.
  • You cannot stretch a carpet that has been glued down.
  • You may need to glue the edges of old carpeting to keep the pile from fraying or pulling out.

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Comments (2)

Thank you for this valuable flooring information so well presented.

Very thorough - great pictures! This makes a lot of sense, as new carpeting can be very costly.

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