It is important to keep in mind that carpet installation is a difficult and physical job; to do the job right, it takes time and can be costly. The lowest price comes at the sacrifice of quality by cutting corners in order to maintain the bottom line. Cutting corners means hiring less expensive labor that is often times less experienced, less training, or uses poor quality material. Time is money; less expensive laborers often make their money from quantity of installations performed, therefor installations are performed more quickly and with less attention to detail. As a result, I find installations that are rushed and skip important steps.
Good installs will follow this step-by-step process…
First step is to prepare the floor. Sweep the floor and vacuum the edges.
Second is securing tack strips around the perimeter of the room. The wood tack strips should be 3/8 of an inch from the baseboard, not closer, not farther. Then, a separate strip of tackless should be used around door trim. Three separate pieces should be used on each side of a doorway if the doorstop goes to the floor. Every small piece of tackles needs at least 2 nails to secure it to the floor. Only 1 nail would allow the tackles to move. Tackles should be reinforced with roofing nails or masonry nails on concrete. This reinforcement allows the installer to stretch the carpet tight enough so that the carpet will not need to be re-stretched after installation.
Third, the edge of the carpet should be sealed with a seam sealer on any carpet but especially loop pile carpet like Berbers and looped commercial carpet. Have you ever seen carpet in businesses where the seams have unraveled? This is an example of what happens to carpet when the seams aren't sealed.
You should ask questions such as, “what is the width of seam tape used? The best installers use 6-inch wide seaming tape on all seams that are located in the center of rooms. The wide tape hides the appearance of seams when properly stretched.
Carpet needs to be power stretched in the length and width of every room. All hallways, closets and stair landings also need to be power stretched if you don’t want them to loosen later. A power stretcher is a tool with a wide stretcher head on one end with a long pole that spans across the entire room and a rubber heal at the opposite wall. This pulls the carpet not only taught but stretched before securing it to the tack strips so it won’t have room to move, loosen, or become wavy. Carpet can not be over stretched! If you were to pull up a properly stretched carpet it would be short of the wall. Stretching a carpet is similar to those Chinese finger handcuffs we played with as kids. When we stuck our fingers into the tube, the harder we tried to pull them out, the more it locked in. The primary carpet backing works the same way, the tighter the carpet is stretched, the tighter the backing locks the yarns in.
As a certified carpet inspector, I find only 5% of the jobs I inspect are installed properly. Cutting cost by skipping steps or using poor quality material will reduce the longevity of your carpet and begin to loosen, bubble, unravel, and split at seams. Often times paying more up front for a quality carpet installer that will take the time to do the best job possible, means you will be paying less later on for repair or installation of new carpet.