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Can You Lay Carpet Over Plywood?

I’ve been doing some DIY lately and was wondering whether I can lay carpet over plywood. So, I did a bunch of research and here’s what I found.

As a general rule, you can lay carpet over plywood. Plywood is very similar in strength and durability to hardwood, and for that reason makes a great subfloor for carpet. You can also install the carpet yourself, however, you need a few specialized tools.

Carpet installation on stairs

Whether you’re interested in whether you SHOULD lay carpet over plywood or want to know exactly how to install it, this article will cover everything you need to know about laying carpet over plywood.

Should You Lay Carpet Over Plywood

Female confused with her hands up

There are a range of different types of flooring you can use as the subfloor for carpet, however, I was curious whether it’s a good idea to lay carpet over plywood.

Generally, laying carpet over plywood is a good idea. Plywood is strong and durable and works well as a subfloor for carpet. Wood underlayment is more comfortable to walk on than concrete or tile because it is flexible.

Therefore, plywood makes a great underlayment. The main thing is to ensure you prepare the surface, and lay the carpet correctly. There is overall, one preferred method for laying carpet, but it can be a bit tricky to get exactly right the first time without some expert guidance.

Below, I’ll explain exactly how it’s done, however, once you understand the steps involved you may prefer to get a contractor to install it for you.

How To Install Carpet Over Plywood

Carpet installation tools

In this section I will provide a complete guide for how to install carpet over plywood from start to finish. But, first here’s a quick summary.

As a whole, the major steps involved in laying carpet over plywood are to prepare the surface of the plywood by sweeping and vacuuming it, as well as removing any nails, screws or staples. Then laying the underlay, and finally laying the carpet.

Before getting started here’s a list of tools you will need:

Tools Needed

  • Smooth edge also called tack strips
  • Hammer
  • Tucker
  • Hoop nails
  • Kneel kicker
  • Small saw
  • Carpet trimmer
  • Knives
  • Staple hammer
  • Scraper
  • Knee pads for safety
  • Underlay
  • Ripple trim
  • Carpet

Cleaning the surface of the plywood

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure the plywood surface is level and clean. Use a scraper to remove any dried plaster, tape, or anything that can be stuck to the surface. Next, use a bubble level to check how level your plywood floor is. After that vacuum or sweep the entire surface.

If the floor is uneven you can build up certain areas using a filling compound such as a timber floor levelling compound. However, there are a range of different products you could use that would do the same thing.

You can also install another brand new piece of thin wood over the top to get a really nice flat surface. In both cases, it can be a good idea to talk to your local hardware store about what options they have available.

Install the tack strips/smooth edge

The next step is to install the tack strips around the perimeter of the room. Tack strips are a thin piece of wood about 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide that has metal sticking out that acts like velcro. It grabs onto the carpet and holds it down securely.

You don’t want to install the tack strips hard up against your wall but instead want to leave a small gap. The small gap is required later when you tuck the free edge of the carpet in to get a really nice finish.

It’s generally recommended to leave around a quarter of an inch (5 mm) space between the tack strips and the wall. Along the way you will need to cut the tack strips into shorter pieces to go around the wall and door ways. You can use your saw to cut them to fit.

The easiest way to install tack strips is to spread out all the pieces of tack strip around the perimeter of the room. Then go around the room and hammer them all in using hook nails. Once that’s done you’re ready to lay your underlay.

Lay down underlay

There are three broad types of underlay that are considered the best for carpet. They are foam, rubber, and felt. All of them work very well. The most popular option is rebonded foam carpet pad (source: Flooring Inc). When you buy it, it comes in a big roll. You start by rolling it out along one of the walls. You then cut it to fit.

The underlay only needs to be secured so that it doesn’t move, therefore you can use staples around the edges. About once every foot (30cm), you also want to add a few sparingly in the center of it so that it doesn’t move.

The carpet on top will largely hold it in place, you just don’t want it to move or fold as you’re putting your carpet in place. Then use your knife and cut it to fit so that it doesn’t sit on top of the tack strips.

Lay your carpet

You’re now ready to lay your carpet. Start by centering the carpet in your room. In the corners you should make relief cuts to push them into place. To make a relief cut, cut the corner of the carpet at a 45 degree angle about an inch. That will allow you to press the carpet into the corner.

Optional – using a stretcher

The ideal carpet setup is to use a stretcher. A stretcher will reduce the chances that wrinkles will form in your carpet. Over time, the carpet will stretch and contract which can cause wrinkles therefore using a stretcher is a good idea for high traffic areas.

The most high traffic areas are staircases, lounges, and hallways. However, in any other room you can get away with not using a stretcher. I would refer to the video above about how to stretch the carpet as it is very involved and you need to do it very precisely.

Trim the edges

As part of the previous step and following the instructions in the video you will now want to trim the edges of your carpet. To do that take your carpet trimmer and run it along the edge of your carpet to perfectly remove the excess carpet.

Tucker in the edges

After you’ve cut the edge of the carpet you need to tuck the edges of the carpet behind the tack strips. Simply take your tucker and press the carpet into the space between the wall and your tack strips.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 22, 2021.

There you have it, exactly how to lay carpet over plywood.

Related Articles

How to Install Carpet Without Tack Strips

Can/Should You and How to Install Vinyl Plank on Plywood

Can You Lay Vinyl Flooring Over Plywood

Can You Lay Tile Over Plywood

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 22, 2021.

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