What Is Carpet Stretching and How Does It Work?

Carpet stretching is a process that utilizes specialty tools to stretch and secure carpets to tack strips at the edge of the room. Carpet stretching is required upon initial installation. Professionals can also stretch older carpet that’s sagging or bubbling to make it look new again.

Carpet Stretching

Why Consider Carpet Stretching?

Stretching carpet is necessary if there are visible ripples. It’s suitable for carpets in areas with high foot traffic. Bumps occur when moving furniture on a carpet. Wrinkles also result from poor installation and the use of the wrong carpet padding.

Increases the carpet’s lifespan

Restretching an old carpet removes wrinkles and bumps. Stretching makes it easier to vacuum out dirt and stains. An even carpet pile lasts longer since it wears out evenly. Stretching also reinforces the carpet to the tack strips.


Carpet stretching costs between $100 and $300 — much cheaper than carpet replacement. 

Increases floor safety

Carpet wrinkles and bumps pose a safety hazard and could result in serious injuries. Carpet restretching is essential for homes with children, seniors, and pets.

Carpet Stretching Specialty Tools

Power Stretcher

A carpet power stretcher is a long pole that extends across a room. It helps remove ripples from a wall-to-wall carpet. A tail block anchors the tool on one end of the carpet and connects to a pole that extends to the stretcher head.

The power stretcher’s head grips the loose end of the carpet and pulls it tight. Using the lever, a user pulls the carpet across the room.

Knee Kicker

Stretching carpet with a knee kicker is feasible in small rooms measuring 100 square feet or less. It also works on stairs and closets. A knee stretcher’s head holds the carpet in place while the user kicks the tool using their knee. The force applied to the back of the tool causes the carpet to stretch out.

Carpet Cutter

A carpet cutter gets rid of the excess carpet after stretching. A carpet knife resembles a utility knife and easily cuts through the carpet grain. Electric carpet cutters are popular because they are easy to use and durable.

Other Tools and Materials

  • Work gloves
  • Tack strips
  • Tin snips
  • Carpet stapler
  • Staples
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Carpet tucker
  • Flathead screwdriver

DIY Carpet Stretching: How to Stretch Carpet in 8 Steps

Before carpet stretching, clear the room of all furniture and gather the necessary tools.

Step 1: Peel the Carpet From the Tack Strip

Loosen the carpet from its tack strip using a pair of pliers. Free the carpet from one edge, and pull it away from the wall. Repeat the process for all sides of the room.

Step 2: Pull the Nails

Pull out the nails that hold the tack strips to the subfloor. Wear protective gloves to protect your hands from the tack strips’ preinstalled fixing nails. Leave the tack strips if they are in good condition.

Step 3: Add New Carpet-Gripping Tack strips

Nail down new tack strips 8mm away from the skirting board. The gap is used to tuck in the carpet during installation. Make sure the angled tacks face towards the wall. Cut the tack strips on the corners of the room using tin snips.

Step 4: Reset the Carpet

Place the carpet back into place. Leave 3 inches of extra carpet along each side, which you’ll later trim. Check that the carpet grain runs in the same direction, towards the room’s entrance.

Step 5: Press All Edges Using the Kicker Head

Set the kicker head six inches from the wall. Rest the knee kicker’s teeth in the carpet pile and adjust the teeth depth. Use your knee to kick the carpet towards the tack strip, and leave some excess carpet along the perimeter.

Step 6: Use a Carpet Stretcher

First, attach the extension poles to the carpet stretcher. Center the stretcher on the carpet and firmly press its teeth into it. Next, lay the stretcher head against the wall where the carpet will be installed at one end. Push down the lever to stretch the carpet across the room.

Use a carpet stretcher per the manufacturer’s directions to avoid carpet damage and injury. Find someone to help you stretch and place the carpet evenly.

Step 7: Knee Kick the Tight Areas

A knee kicker is also helpful for carpet areas that a power stretcher can’t access. Use the dial on the powerhead to adjust the depth of the teeth in a pile. Use your knee to kick the carpet stretcher’s padded end. Repeat this step until the carpet is tight.

Step 8: Cut the Excess Carpet Material

Cut the excess carpet material using a carpet cutter or sharp utility knife. Use one hand to press down the carpet to the tack strips and trim the extra length. Repeat these steps along the carpet perimeter. Make sure you leave at least an ⅛-inch of carpet for tucking under the skirting board.

Step 9: Reattach the Carpet

Use a carpet stapler to secure the carpet to the padding. Tuck the carpet between the skirting board and the tack strip. For this step, you’ll need a carpet tucker. Repeat until the whole length of the carpet is tucked under the walls.

DIY vs. Professional Carpet Stretching

DIY carpet stretching is cheaper than hiring professionals. Professional carpet stretching or repair costs between $100 and $300 per room. For DIY, you only have to rent out the carpet stretching tools. Professional carpet stretching is viable if you are not handy or can’t access specialty tools.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How long should carpet stretching take?

The size of the room, type of carpet, and experience of the stretcher all affect how long it takes to stretch a carpet. Stretching a carpet in a mid-size bedroom should take an hour or less. It can take several hours to stretch an entire living room’s carpet.

Do I have to clear my room before stretching the carpet?

Yes. You’ll have to remove all the furniture in your room before stretching a carpet. Moving furniture gives room for pulling the carpet and using a carpet stretcher. Also, use a vacuum to clean any dirt and dust on the surface.

How many times can a carpet be restretched?

A new carpet lasts for three to five years before forming wrinkles. Carpets should be stretched when bumps and ripples form on the surface. Carpets in high-traffic areas need restretching more often.

How much does carpet stretching cost?

Carpet stretching costs between $100 and $300 for the first room. Professionals charge an extra $45- $80 for the other rooms. Most companies have a flat rate of $100, no matter the room size.