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Can You Put Carpet Over Concrete?

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Carpet is soft, comfortable, and warm and comes in many different colors and types. But, I was doing some renovation work and wondered whether I can lay carpet over concrete. I got the opinion of some experts and here’s what I found…

As a general rule, you can lay carpet over concrete. Concrete provides a stable subfloor for carpet, and carpet can be installed on it using the tried and true method that virtually all carpet installation contractors use. You can also install it yourself, however, you need many specialized tools.

Carpet installation

There are a few different subfloors you can use underneath carpet. Interestingly carpet is the most forgiving type of flooring.

If there are minor imperfections in the concrete surface the spongy underlay will make them less noticeable. With tile or hardwood, on the other hand, the floor needs to be perfectly flat.

In this article, I’ll explain whether it’s a good idea to lay carpet over concrete, and exactly how to do it.

Should You Lay Carpet Over Concrete

Carpet installation tool

There are a few different flooring options that all look good. But, is it a good idea to lay carpet over concrete, or is there something better?

As a whole, it’s perfectly fine to lay carpet over concrete. It’s done in houses and office spaces regularly and it’s a popular flooring material to use. Carpet for the most part is warmer and more comfortable to walk on than hardwood or tile flooring.

The type of flooring you decide can be a big decision, and because you normally keep flooring for many years, you’ll want to take your time. Carpets are affected by wear and tear. And staircases and hallways typically will show signs of wear the fastest.

But, that’s true regardless of what kind of flooring you use. And you should ultimately decide on what kind of interior design look you are going for, and what kind of heating or cooling system you have in your home.

Now that you’re aware of the main considerations when installing carpet over concrete, here’s exactly how to install it, and the tools that you’ll need.

It’s important to note that, once you know the overall process of installing carpet over concrete you may decide that getting a specialist contractor to do it will be easier at the end of the day.

How To Install Carpet Over Concrete

Remodeling room with carpet

There are three broad steps to installing carpet over concrete. And I would say the difficulty of installing carpet over concrete is about a 5 out of 10. If it’s your first time installing carpet you may want to spend a day alongside a carpet contractor on the weekend to learn how to do it.

The overall steps are to first clean the surface of the concrete and get it level. Then you install the smooth edge, also called tack strip. After that you lay the underpad. And finally you spread out the carpet, secure it to the tack strip, cut off any excess, and tuck the edges of the carpet in.

There are a range of specialist tools that you’ll need to install carpet over concrete. Here’s a list to the tools you’ll need to do, and a brief description of what they’re used for:

Tools/Materials Needed

Tool

What it’s used for

Hammer

Driving in the nails on the tack strip

Tucker

Tucking in the edge of the carpet

Knee kicker

Pressing the carpet hard up against the wall and securing it to the tack strips

Bubble level/spirit level

Checking how level the concrete is

Levelling compound

Making the floor level if required

Underpad

Protects the carpet and makes it more comfortable

Carpet

Carpet knife and blades

Cutting the carpet and underpad

Carpet trimmer

Cutting the edge of the carpet

Carpet stretcher

Pulls the carpet tight, making it more durable

Scraper

Removing any plaster or tape from the surface of the concrete

Vacuum

Cleans and removes dust and debris from the concrete

Preparing the surface of the concrete

Before putting down your carpet, spend some time inspecting the surface of your concrete. If there are any large cracks you can fill them in with levelling compound or filler.

Vacuum the area, and use your bubble level also called a spirit level to see how level the floor is. Fingers crossed it was installed really well. If there are any parts that you aren’t happy about you can make them level by using some levelling compound.

The general procedure is to mix it up as a paste, add it to the areas and flatten it out using a trowel. But, each individual product will have detailed instructions. Next, you should remove any nails or screws from the concrete using a hammer.

You can also break up bits of concrete that are sticking out by hitting it with your hammer a few times to shatter it. If there are any holes you can fill them in with a concrete filler.

Once you’re happy with the surface you can move on to installing the tack strips.

Lay out and install the tack stripes/smooth edge

Tack stripes are also called smooth edge and they are a thin strip of wood with pointy metal like the sharp edges sticking out of it at the top. The sharp edges grip the underside of the carpet and hold it in place.

It’s important to get concrete tack strips rather than wooden ones. The nail that you drive into the concrete needs to be the correct size. They will be labelled as concrete tack strips or concrete smooth edge. Sometimes they call them cement tack strips or smooth edge as well.

Lay it out around the perimeter of the room and leave about ¼ inch (5 mm) between the wall and the edge of your tack strip. That extra space between the wall and the tack strip will be needed to get a really nice finish at the end. After you can install the smooth edge you can now lay your underpad and carpet.

Here’s a short video showing an overview of the whole process:

Install the underpad/underlay and carpet

Now roll your underpad out and cut to fit. Rebonded foam is widely considered the best underpad for carpet. But, any type of foam, as well as rubber and felt work well. Lay it down starting from one wall, and then cut it at the opposite wall.

You want to let the underpad float on the surface of the concrete rather than gluing it down.

After you’ve got it all spread out you trim the edges so that the edge is behind the smooth edge.

It’s important to make sure the smooth edge is exposed so that it can grip the underside of the carpet. Then simply tape the seams together using duct tape.

Next, lay out your carpet and cut it roughly to fit. Make sure not to cut it too short. In general around 1 foot (30 cm) of extra carpet at the edge is about right. That way you can get a really precise edge when you cut it off later using your carpet trimmer.

Stretch the carpet into place

You can skip this step if the carpet job is not a high priority. For example, you know you’re going to sell the house soon. On the other hand, if you’re going to keep the house for sometime then it’s worthwhile to stretch it.

Using a stretcher is a very complicated process and you need to follow exact instructions to do it correctly. Refer to the video above in this article to see exactly how to do it.

Final step – Trim and tuck

Now that the carpet is stretched into place, you need to trim and tuck the edges of the carpet. To do that use your carpet trimmer along the entire edge of the wall.

After that use your tucker to tuck the carpet in the space between the smooth edge and the wall. Repeat this process around the entire wall and that’s it, your carpet is now fully installed!

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