Installing Seamed and Stretched Carpet

If you must seam your carpet, this story shows you how to install the carpet so the seam isn't obvious.


If you must seam your carpet, plan to put the seam where it's least obvious and where there will be little foot traffic. Light shining across a seam can emphasize it, so run it in the same direction as the largest window in the room. Equally as important is matching the carpet grains. Join the pieces so that they both face in the direction that they came off the roll.


20 minutes per square yard, not including subfloor preparation

Tape measure, carpet knife, straightedge, knee kicker, power stretcher, wall trimmer, hammer, chalk line, row cutter, seaming iron

Measuring, lifting, laying, cutting, and stretching carpet

Repair and level subfloor.

Carpet, pad, tackless strips, binder bar, transition moldings, hot melt seaming tape, seam sealer

Step 1

Seam the carpet in a spot where there will be little foot traffic and so that each piece of carpet is at least 4 feet wide. Align the pieces so that the carpet nap and pattern (if any) will match. Once you have determined the best place for a seam, snap a chalk line on the subfloor where the seam will fall.

Step 2

Using a carpet knife trim about 1-1/2 inches off the seam edges of the existing carpet pieces (an existing cut edge of the carpet usually results in a visible seam

Step 3

On the larger piece of carpet, put a pen or a screwdriver between two rows of tufts about an inch from the seam edge. Drag the pen or screwdriver the entire length of the seam, keeping it between the same two rows of tufts. This creates a visible valley in the carpet.

Step 4

Using a carpet knife begin the cut in the valley and complete the cut with a row cutter. As you cut, angle the row cutter about 5 degrees so that you are cutting away slightly more backing than tufted fiber.

Step 5

Put the second piece of carpet in place, positioning it so the first piece overlaps it by about 2 inches. The left edge of the piece, as it came off the roll, should be against the right edge of the other piece as it came off the roll.

Finding the Right Spot for a Seam

You cut and join carpet seams before you actually install the carpet. Once you create the seam, you'll install the carpet as if it were a single piece.

Resist the temptation to put the seam in the middle of the room. While it makes planning easier, it also makes the seam obvious. Given the choice between putting a seam below a sofa or near the doorway, place it under the sofa. Walking over a seam will cause it to show more and more over time.

Not all carpets are candidates for do-it-yourself seaming. Before purchasing your selection, ask a carpet professional about the requirements for seaming pieces.

An unavoidable problem with seams is seam peaking, also referred to as seam lifting. No matter what you or a professional carpet layer do, a seam has a tendency to lift slightly off the floor. This is because the carpet stretches everywhere except along the seam where it is backed by tape. Because the problem is unavoidable, the seam's location is all the more important.

The unavoidable seam in this carpet is tucked beneath the sofa.

Step 6

As you did in Step 3, on the second piece of carpet put a pen or a screwdriver between two rows of tufts about an inch from the seam edge. Drag the pen or screwdriver the entire length of the seam. Align the cut edge of the larger carpet piece with this new valley. Using a carpet knife, begin the cut in the second valley and then use a row cutter to complete the second cut.

Step 7

Check for gaps, sliding the pieces back and forth as necessary to form a perfect seam. If you have to force edges together to make them fit, you may need to recut.

Step 8

Apply seam sealer to the cut edge of the large piece of carpet, squeezing a bead the thickness of the backing onto the actual backing, taking care not to get any of the adhesive on the nap of the carpet. The sealer keeps the carpet from unraveling. The sealer must remain wet for the next step.

Step 9

Lay a piece of 3-inch-wide seaming tape along the entire length of the seam. Slip a 4-foot-long board under the tape at the end of the seam where you are starting and melt the tape with a seaming iron. As you work move the iron down the length of the seam, pushing the edges into the hot adhesive. Move the board down as you work.

Step 10

Once you have taped the entire seam, clean up any stray sealer with the recommended cleaner. Allow the seam to dry and then stretch and install the carpet.

Comments (1)
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