Carpeting Over Cement

A cement floor might be durable, but there’s nothing like the lush feel of carpet underfoot for pure comfort. While carpet installation might seem like a job best left to the pros, you can actually get the task done with a little know-how and a bit of work. Carpet is one of the most affordable types of flooring, and by installing it yourself, you can save even more.Gather Your SuppliesRemember to measure your room carefully before purchasing supplies! For this job, you’ll need:

  • Carpet and under padding (get a little more than the exact dimensions of your room)
  • Gripper strips
  • Knee kicker (this can be rented)
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Masonry screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Tin snips
  • Chisel
  • Putty knife
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Waterproof epoxy sealant
  • Concrete repair caulk
  • Underlayment adhesive
  • Duct tape
  • Carpet stretcher (optional)

Prep Your Floor

A solid concrete floor is an excellent foundation for a new carpet, and with a little bit of basic preparation, your floor will be ready for a brand new carpet. You might want to rush ahead to laying the carpet, but it’s worth your while to spend the time prepping the space first.

Visually inspect your concrete floor for bumps, dips or cracks. A bump might not seem too prominent, but you’d be surprised how easy it’ll be to trip over once it’s covered in carpet. Remove any bumps with a hammer and chisel, and sweep away any dust or debris. Fill any dips with thin-set mortar (taking care to smooth the surface well), and fill in cracks with concrete repair caulk.

Once the floor is smooth and dry, paint your concrete floor with one or two coats of waterproof epoxy sealant. This will keep your carpet safe from moisture that could cause mold, smells and permanent damage.

Lay Strips, Adhesive and Under Padding

Use masonry screws to attach your gripper strips to the newly sealed cement floor. Your strips should be installed around the entire perimeter of the room, placed about ½” away from the wall. Make sure that the tack points are facing the wall. Use your tin snips to cut the strips as necessary, and place screws every 6-8” along each strip.

Next, spread a portion of underlayment adhesive around the perimeter of the room. This is just to hold the padding in place, so you don’t need to cover the entire floor with adhesive. Lay padding strips across the length of the room, keeping your rows snug but not overlapping. Close the seams with duct tape, and trim any excess with your knife.

Lay Your Carpet

Roll out your carpet smoothly, leaving about six inches of excess carpet all the way around. If you are carpeting a large room, you may need to lay the carpet in sections. To connect the sections, use seam tape along the underside of the carpet. Once the seam tape is lined up properly, you can use a steam iron to activate the adhesive, and then join the sections firmly.

Smooth the carpet out as well as you can with your hands, getting it spread as tightly as possible against each wall. Now grab your knee kicker, and place it at the farthest corner from the door. Use your knee to knock the kicker toward the wall, and use your hands to press the carpet down onto the tack strips. Continue this process around the entire perimeter of the room, working your way toward the door.

Once the carpet is smooth and firmly attached all the way around, use your knife to trim off the excess carpet, leaving just ¾” extra beyond the tack strips. Use your putty knife to push the remaining ¾” of carpet under the baseboards. This will leave your room with a professional, finished look.

Final Tip

Many folks get the whole job done with a knee kicker, but if this is too tiresome, you can rent a carpet stretcher to make the job easier.

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