Carpet is high on the list of easy ways to transform an unused basement or garage into a living space. Taking an uncomfortable concrete floor and adding carpet will go a long way in creating a living space. Due to the concrete, however, you're going to need to install a layer of carpet padding onto your floor first. Knowing how to get started can feel challenging. But we here at HomeDecorBliss.com have pulled together all you need to know on the subject for you down below.
There are a handful of steps to installing carpet on your concrete floor:
- Patch and level the concrete as necessary. Extremely saggy areas will show through the carpet.
- Clear your concrete floor of any debris.
- Install tackless strips around the perimeter of the room.
- Cut the padding to fit the entire room (including strips).
- Apply carpet adhesive directly to the floor.
- Apply carpet padding from one side of the room to the other.
- Continue applying strips of carpet padding until the area is covered.
- Trim away extra padding covering the tackless strips.
- Cover the seams in the padding with duct tape.
Though these seem like many steps, the process is fairly straightforward, and we've gone into more detail below. Continue reading to learn how to translate a hard concrete floor into a soft carpeted space.
Starting Steps: How Do You Prepare A Concrete Floor For Carpet?
Even though you'll be covering it with padding, making sure your concrete is foundationally sound is important to a lasting floor. This includes making sure it's ready before even laying down a single piece of carpet. Make sure not to skip on these steps, or your whole project will suffer for it.
Level your subfloor as needed
Looks aren't so much the concern here, as your carpet will cover the subfloor. However, if your concrete is excessively saggy or bumpy in spots, you'll need to fix this. Carpet and padding won't be enough to cover the damaged concrete. Chip away at any saggy spots with a hammer and chisel. Once the damaged concrete is removed, fill in the holes with a self-leveling compound.
Likewise, if your concrete has any high spots, you can sand these down with a sander. The goal is to have the floor be as evenly level as possible. This will even out your subfloor and allow for a smooth installation.
Clear your floor of any debris
After smoothing out your concrete, the next step is to clear your area completely of debris. Sweep the area thoroughly before going over it with a vacuum cleaner. Leave no mess behind as you will be using adhesive and aiming for as smooth a carpet as possible.
Apply tackless strips
Buy yourself enough tackless strips or grippers made specifically for concrete to go around the entire perimeter of your space. Install them, leaving a gap of approximately 2/3rds the thickness of the carpet between the wall and the strip. Point the tacks towards the wall and secure the strips to the floor using at least two masonry nails per strip. Ensure that the strips sit flush against each other, using a hacksaw to cut them down if necessary.
Once your floor is level and your strips are securely fastened, you can begin the process of laying down your padding.
Applying The Padding
Cut the padding
Cut out your padding first. Measure for the total length of the room to be covered with padding. This includes the area covered by the tackless strips. You'll cut this part out later, but it's better to cut off some excess than risk gaps in the floor.
Apply your adhesive
Now's the time to apply your carpet adhesive directly to your cement flooring. Apply it evenly and smoothly and as instructed on the labeling. Your carpet manufacturer should have suggestions for what adhesive to use along with your carpeting. Move quickly when applying so as not to waste time drying the adhesive.
Place the padding
Start at one corner of the room and begin unrolling your carpet, applying it to the adhesive-covered floor. Apply it as smoothly and evenly as possible, leaving no bumps. Place the side with the waffle pattern facing upwards, and work quickly. This is again so as not to have the adhesive dry too fast on you. If need be, go back over the padding to smooth out bumps. You want everything as flat as possible.
Lay a second strip of padding next to the first strip, with the second edge flush to the edge of the first one. You want zero gaps between the strips but also no overlap. The goal is to have the floor completely covered and level. Continue laying strips of padding in this fashion until your entire flooring area is covered. Trim off excess if needed.
Clear off the tackless strips
Now comes the time to trim off the carpet padding covering your tackless strips around the perimeter of your floor. It's recommended to leave around 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch gap between the edges of your tackless strips and the edges of your carpet padding. Don't have the gap be any larger than this or your carpet will have an uncomfortable strip around the perimeter.
Secure with tape
Lastly, secure the edges of your padding with tape to make sure they stay in place. Duct tape should work just fine, as appearance is again not an issue. This will ensure a uniform feel to your carpet padding and thus a more comfortable feeling.
You're now ready to install your actual carpet!
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Should You Seal A Concrete Floor Before Carpet?
Along with patching and leveling your concrete, sealing adds another layer of protection. Sealing your concrete before applying carpet padding means you're helping keep it from potential moisture damage down the road. Sealing helps protect your floor from spills and moisture accumulation which is frequent in areas such as basements.
After patching and clearing up your floor, apply a concrete sealer to the corners along the walls with a brush. Work backward from a corner of the room to a door so you don't paint yourself into a literal corner. Allow the sealer 24 hours to dry before starting the padding process.
Do You Need A Vapor Barrier On Concrete?
Vapor or moisture barriers are lesser-known materials that you can install during the carpeting process. A thin plastic sheet, vapor barriers stop moisture from moving through a wall or subfloor. These are typically installed in areas prone to dampness and moisture. If any water vapor penetrates the carpet flooring, the vapor diffusion retarder slows the moisture movement, preventing damage to the floor.
A few factors are important to consider when thinking about whether or not to use a vapor barrier. Weather plays a big role in the usefulness of a vapor barrier. In milder climates, their use is lessened, but their use is much greater in climates with more drastic snowy winters, a lot of rain, and general humidity.
Grade level is another factor to consider in your area. If you're carpeting in a basement or other below-grade area, you're more likely to have problems with moisture. Vapor barriers help protect your concrete against these issues.
The reason why concrete in particular benefits so well from vapor barriers is because of the material's porous nature. That coupled with humidity's propensity to move from high-humidity to low-humidity areas, even if it requires moving through concrete, makes a vapor barrier a smart choice.
What Type Of Carpet Is Good For A Concrete Floor?
Now that you know everything from vapor barriers to padding and sealant, it comes down to choosing a good carpet for your concrete flooring. Generally, synthetic fibers will serve you well when it comes to both backing and actual carpet fibers. These types of fibers are breathable and won't absorb moisture as much as other types of fabrics.
While your padding will help your backing out in the moisture department, consider the humidity levels in the room itself when choosing carpet materials. Nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and triexta are all synthetic fibers you could consider for your carpet.
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Padding your concrete floor before carpeting helps in multiple ways. Not only does it add an extra layer of padding for comfort, but it also helps with the tricky issue of managing moisture levels. Taking the time to engage in these extra steps will keep your floor safe and comfortable in the long run and looking good for years to come.