The key to a professional finish on carpet installation is to have neat, straight seams and edges. A straight neat cut can be achieved on both classic and cushion back carpeting with a carpet knife. However, tools such as a cushion back carpet cutter make getting a neat cut quick and easy. This guide has all you need to know on how to use this tool.
The steps for using a cushion back carpet cutter are as follows:
- Score a path on the carpet.
- Lower one blade on the carpet cutter.
- Align the tool with the scored line.
- Apply pressure and cut along the row.
If your carpet piles are high, use a screwdriver or row finder instead to clear the cutting path. After using the carpet cutter, apply a seam sealant to protect the edges.
Cushion back carpet cutters are the perfect tool for both classic and cushion back carpeting. They are easy to use and much more effective than most cutting methods. Keep reading for instructions and tips on using this carpet cutting tool.
How do you use a carpet back cutter?
1. Score a path on the carpet
First, before you use the tool, you will need to clear a path through the carpet pile. Pile refers to the density of the fibers in the carpet. If the pile height of your carpet is short, it will be much easier to cut. The carpet back cutter includes a built-in row separator that will work perfectly.
Raise both blades on the tool to use it as a row separator. For added precision, you can use a straightedge as a guide. Apply pressure and run the tool along the line several times to get good pile separation. However, if your pile height is taller, you will want to use a longer tool.
These row separators are pointed at one end which allows for more precision. It can plow through dense piles and long, shaggy carpets. The same method applies to these row separators; apply pressure and go over the line several times.
2. Lower one blade on the carpet cutter
Next, you will prepare your tool for cutting. Cushion back carpet cutters are equipped with a blade on both the left and right sides. You will want to use the blade on the proper side for precise cuts. Lower the blade that is on the same side of the carpet that is staying.
To lower the blade, simply slide it out with your thumb. You will need to lower the blade enough to get through the padding on the underside of the carpet. If you are using this tool on classic carpet, make sure your blade is not too low to avoid damage to anything under the carpeting.
The carpet cutter shown above allows you to see precisely how far the blade is sticking out. In order to adjust this blade, unscrew the knob keeping the blade in place. Then, tighten the screw when the blade is where you want it.
3. Align the tool with the scored line
After your blade is down, place the cutter along the scored line. Place the nose of the tool in between piles to avoid cutting through carpet fibers. This is a small step, but placing the tool directly on the row will help the plow push carpet fibers away from the blade.
The built-in plow is helpful for keeping your blade in line with your row as well. However, for longer cuts, you can use a straightedge to keep yourself on track. If you lay it along your row, you can slide the tool against it for a perfectly straight cut.
4. Apply pressure and cut along the row
Lastly, all you have to do is apply pressure to cut through the carpet. This tool works especially well on cushion back carpeting because you can extend the blade. Carpet backing can be up to a half-inch and this tool can extend to cut straight through all layers in one pass.
While you are cutting, keep the tool straight to avoid jagged edges. If you did not lower the blade enough, you can go over the cut again to sever the pieces completely. The video below gives a demonstration of how to use this cutter:
What to do after cutting the carpet
After cutting your carpet, you will want to seal the new raw edge. Sealing will prevent the carpet from unraveling. The most important thing to know when finding a sealant is that it cannot be water-based.
A water-based adhesive will not hold up if the carpet gets wet. Products like gorilla glue are water-resistant and will have no problem sealing your carpet. If you need assistance on joining two carpet seams, read our guide on how to glue a carpet edge.
What is a cushion back cutter used for?
A cushion back cutter is marketed specifically for cutting cushion back carpeting. Despite its name, you can also use this tool to cut standard carpeting. This tool combines a row finder and a carpet knife to create an all-in-one carpet cutter. Using this tool gives a neat, professional cut for carpet installation without having to use multiple tools.
However, if you have standard carpeting without padding, your carpet can be easily cut with a few other tools.
By using a straightedge and a carpet knife, you can cut through single layers of carpet easily. A cushion back cutter may be preferred over a carpet knife due to it separating carpet fibers as you cut. A carpet knife will cut through any fibers in its path.
What is cushion back carpet?
Cushion back carpeting has built-in padding on the underside. This padding is used to absorb pressure put on the carpet fibers and extends the life of the carpet. Cushion back carpeting is a smart choice for longevity in your carpet fibers. Although padding will always help, not all cushion back carpeting is created equal.
There are two kinds of cushion backing: open cell and closed cell. Closed-cell cushioning absorbs impact well but is easily worn down over time. Open cell cushion backing acts similarly to running shoe insoles. After compression, the cells "reinflate" to withstand more pressure; this will hold up well over time.
The picture above shows a layer of carpet with a layer of padding underneath. If your carpet does not have a cushion backing, you can install padding yourself. If you are interested in installing padding, read our article on how long carpet padding lasts.
What is the easiest way to cut carpet?
The easiest way to cut carpet is with a tool like the cushion back carpet cutter. This cutter is easy to use, effective as well as safe. Both blades are retractable and the handle keeps your fingers away from the blades. Tools like the one below are perfect for carpet without padding but feature a fixed blade.
The only way cutting carpet can get easier is if it were automatic. Luckily, there are a lot of power-cutting tools on the market. If you have a large carpet project, power tools will be the fastest way to get the job done.
The best thing about this power tool is that it is battery operated, the batteries can be recharged when needed, so there is no power cord involved. This is especially useful for carpet projects where you want your hand to be able to move freely. For more cutting tools, read our article on the ten best tools for cutting carpet.
If you are using a cutting tool without something to split the carpet fibers, you run the risk of cutting through some loops. This can cause shedding of the carpet and jagged edging. A simple solution to this problem is to cut through the bottom side of the carpet. The following video shows how to cut carpet with a utility knife:
Cushion back carpet cutters are unmatched when it comes to cutting cushion back carpet. It is simple to use and can get the job done faster than other methods. If you are going to use any other tool to cut carpet, you will still need to use a row finder and straightedge for neat lines. Cushion back cutters are the perfect two-in-one tool!