Being a DIYer is sort of like eating at a buffet: you want to try a little of everything to see what you like, for better or for worse. You come across the food you know you love to eat (for me, that’s crab legs). Then, there’s the dish that can either be good or bad depending on the temperature and your mood (I’m looking at you, eggplant). Finally, you come across the one food you know for certain you never want to try again (never again, coleslaw). Once consumed, there’s a visceral reaction that you never forget. Instantly, you know you never want to repeat that experience. Well, let me tell you about my coleslaw of DIY: carpet.
Warning: Some old pre-smart phone cell phone images are included in this post. Side effects may include: headache from pixelated, blurry, and dark images. I didn’t know back then I’d include these images on a blog nine years later. 😀
It was about 2011, back in the days when I was still touting my slide phone and thinking I could do anything. Actually, WE thought we could do anything – the “we” being my sister and me. My parents were long overdue to get rid of their 1970s shag carpet and got a deal on some new carpet remnants. The catch: we had to install it ourselves. In hindsight, of course you will save money in this scenario because you are only paying for materials and not labor! Forgive us; we were green and trying to be cheap.
By this time, I personally had tile laying experience, so I thought, “It’s just another flooring!” My sister is a MacGuyver, so she could help figure it out! Heck, my dad is a former construction worker and roofer! We figured if we needed brawn, we had our three cousins coming for back up. What could go wrong?
What went wrong
Unfortunately, I failed to do enough research on how to install carpet. I read all the articles and saw the step-by-step pictures. I priced out all materials and even rented the vital knee kicker tool. However, I never actually watched the knee kicker in action.
The time came to adhere the carpet onto the tack strip using the knee kicker tool. In 2011, I was about one hundred and twenty pounds and had, in general, the strength of a feather. I had strong legs due to biking, so I gave the knee kicker a go. I gave it all my strength and finesse to avail!
See, there is spring inside the tool, and without the strength to make it compress, you cannot stretch the carpet properly onto the tack strip.
Why does one tool matter so much?
It is absolutely imperative that the carpet is stretched taut onto the tack strip for two reasons. First, you don’t want the carpet lifting. Lifted carpet is not only unsightly, it can be a tripping hazard. Secondly, when the carpet is not properly stretched, ripples can appear. Again, rippled carpet is ugly and can be a tripping hazard under certain conditions.
I tried time after time, figuring my young knees were the ones to sacrifice on the knee kicker. Besides, I was the one who did much of the research! I was supposed to figure it out! I flailed around until my cousin stepped in and took over. Little ole me must have been one tragic sight!
I’ll never install carpet again!
My poor cousin did all of the knee kicking that fateful day in 2011. The job got done, but there were some areas where the carpet was not fitted tightly onto the tack strip. Even though I now know there is a such thing as a power stretcher, considered me scarred by the experience. I knew instantly I would never do that again!
Plus, I like my knees. Ramming my knee into a tool over and over with brute force isn’t something I want to put my body through. That’s part of the reason why I respect carpet installers so much (and construction workers in general). Quality professionals know the right technique and force needed to use the knee kicker and other tools in a sustainable way.
When it came time for laying new carpet in my own house, I knew carpet installation would be the one job the honey and I would definitely be hiring out! Next, I will detail key tips for hiring quality carpet installers!
In conclusion, I learned a lesson in my carpet installation experience. You will never know in which areas you will excel if you never try and fail. I know for certain that I suck at carpet installation, but, boy, I know I can sand and repair some doors! I would never know this if I didn’t try various projects. Maybe you’ll move ahead with your DIY carpet installation plans, or maybe you’ll heed my warning. I don’t know. It’s all up to you. Just remember, this journey is one big buffet. Decide for yourself if you enjoy coleslaw.
Thanks for reading! Until next time, follow me on social media!