The Three Types of Carpet Installation.

Glue Down Carpet Installation

Glueing down carpet. Installers gluing carpet directly to a concrete floor.
There are two main types of glue down carpet installation. Carpet can be directly glued to the floor, or carpet can be glued to a pad that is itself glued to the floor.

Direct glue down carpet installation

Direct glue down installation is the most popular carpet installation in commercial settings. In this type of installation, the carpet is glued directly to the floor. The floor needs to be very smooth. Any imperfections in the floor will telegraph through the carpet and be visible. Imperfections in the floor may also cause wear spots. Advantages of glued down carpet are:
  • The carpet is solidly supported and has minimal movement. It provides a good solid base which is better for rolling traffic, including wheelchairs.
  • Suitable for ramps.
  • Low profile. Stores transitioning from carpet to linoleum will find this to be the lowest profile, safest transition.
  • Minimize buckling in buildings that have climate control turned off for periods of time.
  • Seams do not peak, and are more durable due to lack of flexing.
  • Suitable for large areas.
Disadvantages of glued down carpet are:
  • Lack of pad is less comfortable.
  • Lack of pad means less insulation.
  • Carpet is less durable without pad. Pad acts like a shock absorber and can greatly increase the life of a carpet.
  • When replacement is necessary, removal is more difficult than stretch in installations.

Double glue down carpet installation

Often called double stick installation. This is similar to direct glue down installation, except that we first glue a pad to the floor and then glue the carpet to the pad. The pad for this type of installation can not be any carpet pad, but a densified pad made specifically for this type of installation. Advantages of double glue down installation over direct glue down are:
  • More comfortable.
  • More insulation.
  • The pad will extend the life of the carpet.
Disadvantages are:
  • Higher costs #1. Even more difficult removal than direct glue down when replacement is necessary.
  • Higher costs #2. Double glue pad. Pad costs more than no pad. And the densified double stick pads cost more than ordinary pad.
  • Higher costs #3. We are gluing down the pad, and then gluing down the carpet. It's like doing the installation twice, which the installer is paid for.

Stretch In Carpet Installation

Partially dressed stairs. Partially dressed stairs being prepped for runners. You can see the tackstrip at the back of the stairs, and the pad. Rooms look just like this, but the tackstrip goes around the entire room perimeter, and the pad covers the entire room.
Stretch in carpet installation is the most popular installation methods in homes. In this installation, strips of wood (called tackless strip) are nailed (or sometimes glued) to the floor around the edges of the room. These strips have hundreds of nails that are angled in towards the wall. Padding is secured to the floor in the middle of the room. The carpet is then attached to the pins around the room. The installer then stretches the carpet tight across the room. Advantages of stretch in carpet installation:
  • A quick, efficient installation method.
  • Pad is more comfortable.
  • Pad is more insulating.
  • The pad extends the life of the carpet.
  • Easier to remove than glued down carpet.
  • The only installation method that allows the installer to effectively work with patterned carpets, especially when the pattern has minor problems such as bow or skew (which they always do).
Disadvantages are:
  • Not suitable for very large spaces due to concerns of buckling or rippling.
  • Not suitable for heavy rolling traffic, or extensive light duty rolling traffic.

Cut To Fit Carpet Installation

A cut-to-fit carpet installation is not a bona-fide installation. An installer will cut the carpet to fit a room exactly, but the carpet is not attached to the floor. The carpet is laid loosely over the floor. A cut-to-fit installation can be laid directly on the floor, or over a pad. If a pad is used, it should be a firm dense pad (like felt) to minimize the possibility of buckles or ripples. There are several reasons someone may choose to have a loose laid carpet including:
  • Landlord will not allow carpet to be installed.
  • Bathrooms, so the carpet can be easily removed for cleaning or drying.
  • Porches that get occasional water, so the carpet can be removed to facilitate speedy drying.
However, cut-to-fit carpet installations (or loose-lay carpet installations) are not guaranteed. Here are several disadvantages associated with loose-laid carpet:
  • Because the carpet is not attached to the floor, it can shift or move.
  • Changes in weather can affect the size of the carpet. Hot humid weather can cause the fabric to expand, causing ripples. Cool, dry weather can cause the fabric to shrink, leaving gaps.
  • Buckles or ripples may develop, which is not the responsibility of the installer.
The reason carpets are glued or stretched in is to avoid these disadvantages.