Carpet should be stretched to an additional 1–2% of its cut dimensions during installation. This means that if you are carpeting a room 100 inches (8 feet, 4 inches) wide by 200 inches (16 feet, 8 inches) the carpet should be stretched to at least 101 inches wide by 202 inches long before it is trimmed and secured to the floor. Stretching carpet requires a power stretcher and knowledge of how to use it correctly. It should be done by professionals only. Carpet stretching is not a DIY task.
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Why Does Carpet Need to Be Stretched?
Carpet must be stretched prior to installation to prevent loosening over time. New carpet is typically stretched by at least 1% in all dimensions to prevent lumps, wrinkles, and bubbling carpet.
- Carpet that has not been stretched correctly will form lumps, ridges, and bubbles.
- DIY methods of carpet stretching will not prevent carpet flaws.
- Work with a professional carpet installer to make sure your new or existing carpet is properly stretched.
Carpet that is installed without proper stretching will soon develop lumps and ridges. These flaws are unsightly and become a tripping hazard. Using a knee kicker or a hand-stretching method will not stretch your carpet adequately. Only a power stretcher used by an experienced professional will ensure the carpet is stretched properly.
When Should You Stretch Your Carpet?
You should contact a professional carpet installer if you notice your carpet is bubbling, lumpy, or uneven. Additionally, lines or ridges in the carpet are signs that your flooring is in need of professional stretching. Loose carpet may even begin to pull up at the edges and corners of a room.
- You see lumps, bubbles, or waves in your carpet.
- Your carpet forms ridges, often in doorways or other transition areas.
- The carpet is coming loose from the tack strip at the edges and corners of the room.
A loose carpet creates a tripping hazard, is difficult to clean, and ruins the appearance of your home. It’s best dealt with quickly. A professional service can stretch your carpet in a short time. They will then use a carpet cutter to trim the excess carpet before securing it back to the tack strip.
Causes of Loose Carpet
Typically, improper installation is the cause of loose carpet. If the carpet was installed by hand or with a knee kicker, it is prone to loosening. Professionally installed carpet that was installed with the aid of a power stretcher seldom loosens.
- Improper installation.
- Water damage and flooding.
- Very heavy foot traffic.
- An overly soft or thick layer of padding beneath the carpet.
Water damage, such as floods, can cause your carpet to stretch and warp. Heavy foot traffic on carpet, especially in hallways, can cause it to loosen over time. Additionally, a carpet pad that is too soft or thick can lead your carpet to stretch and loosen.
Is a Power Stretcher Necessary to Stretch Carpet?
It’s necessary to use a power stretcher whenever you are installing or repairing carpet. Attempting to stretch carpet by hand or with a knee kicker will result in a poor installation. Improperly stretched carpet can become loosened and lumpy due to regular foot traffic.
- A power stretcher must be used whenever carpet is being installed or repaired in your home.
- Carpet installed without a power stretcher will loosen very soon after installation or repair.
- Novices should not attempt to use a power stretcher—they must be used according to a specific pattern to properly stretch carpet.
In addition to using a power stretcher, the individual must be well-versed in the process of stretching carpet. It’s not enough to simply stretch a carpet lengthways and widthways. A pattern must be followed to stretch the carpet adequately in every direction. This is the only way to ensure the carpet won’t pull loose over time.
Can Carpet Be Stretched Too Much?
A power stretcher is the only acceptable tool for stretching carpet, but it can damage your carpet if it is used improperly. Stretching carpet too much can cause the carpet to tear. This is especially bad because there’s no good way to repair carpet that has torn in the middle of a room.
- Carpet can be overstretched and torn if a power stretcher is used improperly.
- A ripped piece of carpet cannot be repaired.
- Prevent serious carpet damage by hiring an expert carpeting service.
Because power stretchers are more than capable of ripping carpet, they should only be used by professionals. It’s much cheaper to hire a professional crew to install carpet than it is to buy all-new carpet.
Should You Clean Carpet or Stretch it First?
Carpet installation should be preceded or followed by a thorough cleaning. Some experts believe that cleaning before stretching allows carpet to flex and stretch more easily without tearing. Although this is up for debate, it’s best to go with a company that cleans your carpet either before or after stretching. This ensures the carpet that was brought from the warehouse won’t bring debris or pests into your home.
- Some installation experts believe cleaning carpet before stretching helps the carpet flex during stretching.
- Reputable carpet install companies include cleaning in their service—either before or after stretching.
Speak with your carpet installation service to make sure cleaning is included in their service. Whether they clean the carpet before or after stretching, a company that cleans carpets as part of the installation service is a sign of a quality business.
What is the Correct Tightness When Stretching Carpet?
Carpet should be stretched and installed by professionals only. Make sure you use a carpet service that cleans carpet before or after stretching. Also, make sure the service uses power stretchers during all carpet installation and repair. Using a reputable, experienced company is the best way to make sure your carpet does not form wrinkles or come loose at the edges.