Which Way to Lay Carpet Padding?

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Laying carpet is a big, expensive job, and one crucial part of it that often isn't considered carefully enough is laying the carpet pad. Quality padding is the foundation of your carpet and, correctly installed, can add years to the life of your new floor covering. Here are some guidelines about how to lay padding properly.

Preparing the Floor

  • Make sure all remnants of old carpeting are removed and the floor is cleaned. If the floor is concrete, you must seal it first before gluing down the pad, then glue tack strips around the edges. If the floor is plywood, you'll need to nail tack strips around the edges. Plan how you will cut, seam and lay the new carpet so you'll know how to lay the pad.

Cutting the Pad

  • The thickness of the pad is up to you, but generally, thicker, denser pads are easier to cut accurately. Cut the pad so that the edges will cover the tack strips. Measure the pad by laying it out on the floor so that the seams run perpendicular to the new carpet's seams.

Laying the Pad

  • Lay the carpet pad so that it is perpendicular to the direction you have planned to install the carpet. Both layers support each other in this way against the constant assault of daily traffic. Tape all pad seams to keep them from shifting or creeping beneath the carpet.

Fastening and Trimming the Pad

  • Using a staple gun or staple hammer, tack the carpet pad along its seams. Alternate staples on opposite sides of the seam so that no two staples face each other across a seam---otherwise the pad might tear when subjected to the stress of traffic on the carpet. Use a carpet knife to trim the pad as close to the edge of the tack strip as possible, leaving the tacks bare for attaching the carpet.
    If the floor is concrete, simply cut the pad to the size of the room. Using a caulk gun, spread low volatility glue along the edges of the pad and stripe the areas inside the edges so the pad will be evenly attached to the floor. Apply X's or back-and-forth squiggles of glue to the back of the pad and then lay it down. As the glue dries, push the seams as close together as possible to prevent wear along the seams.

    If the carpet is to be attached with tack strips, install them along the walls first, then lay the pad, trimming it close to the inside edge of the strips.

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