Wall and Floor Tiling Tips : A Complete Guide
Laying tiles or putting down a floor may sound like difficult tasks to tackle, but they are, in fact, both surprisingly easy – especially if you’ve read our wall and floor tiling tips guide first!
We take you through the process of tiling your walls or floors, from preparing your surfaces to doing all those tricky bits, like going around corners or windows.
Laying a floor can be just as simple, whether you’re putting down sheet vinyl, installing laminate flooring or fitting a new carpet. We’ll guide you every step of the way, to help you create something that will transform the look of your home.
- 1 Preparing to Tile
- 2 Tiling Walls & Floors
- 3 Laying Sheet Vinyl
- 4 Woodstrip Flooring
- 5 Soft Floor Tiles
- 6 New Carpets & Offcuts
Preparing to Tile
As well as creating a practical surface, tiles are good for covering up damaged plaster or dated tiles. Before tiling, make sure the surface is dry and reasonably smooth, although minor cracks and bumps will be covered by the adhesive.
If there are traces of damp on a wall or floor, the cause must be identified and remedied before you start to tile.
Working in either metric or imperial throughout, measure the height and width of the area to be tiled and multiply these figures together. Divide the result by the area of a single tile to give the number of tiles you need (add 10% for cutting and wastage).
For example, working in metric, an area of 4 m by 2 m is 8 sq m, which equals 80,000 sq cm. If your tiles are 10 x 10 cm, they are each 100 sq cm. Dividing 80,000 by 100 gives you 800, which is the number of tiles required before adding the extra 10%.
A useful reference is that you need 100 tiles measuring 10 x 10 cm/4 x 4 in each to cover 1 sq m/10 sq ft. The bigger the tile, the fewer you will need.
Buy all the tiles at the same time to avoid any differences between batches, plus a few extra so you can keep spares for replacing broken or damaged tiles in the future.
It’s almost impossible to match the colour exactly if you buy from a different batch. Shuffle packs of natural or handmade tiles to ensure any colour or pattern differences are spread evenly over the walls or floor.
Grout is the fine filler that is forced between fixed tiles to form a smooth surface. Check the packaging to make sure you use epoxy-based, waterproof grouting in areas likely to get wet.
You can also buy coloured grouting, either to contrast with or match the tile colour.
Wall-tile adhesive comes ready-mixed in a tub. Again, use an epoxy-based waterproof sealer for bathrooms and kitchens.
For floor tiles, choose a dry powder mix, a stronger adhesive that is mixed with water and spread with a trowel. Your tile supplier should be able to recommend the best brand of adhesive for your tiles.
The sealant should be used to form a flexible joint around the edges of a bath or lavatory, for example. Choose a silicone-based clear or white sealant with a fungicide additive to discourage mold.
Most are sold in a cartridge, but you can also buy rubberized strip that is fixed with a silicone adhesive/ sealant. The rubberized strap is neater but only works well for narrow gaps of a uniform thickness. Sealant in a cartridge is better for uneven walls or awkward areas.
- Old tiles. These are a good base for new tiles. Rub down the glazed surface of the old tiles with coarse silicone-carbide paper to give a key (surface) for the adhesive. Arrange the new joint lines, so they don’t line up with the joint lines on the old tiles.
- Paint. Wash with warm water and detergent and allow to dry.
- Plaster. Repair any large holes with plaster filler and brush on a coat of plaster-stabilizing solution if the surface is powdery. Chip off any lumps with a cold chisel.
- Wallpaper. Strip back to the bare wall before tiling.
See also the video below..
These are ideal for tiling as long as there is no damp. New floors have a damp-proof membrane fitted, but if you suspect damp, the floor may need to be coated with a waterproofing compound. Call in a professional for advice.
Otherwise, fill any large holes or cracks with self-leveling compound, a powder that is mixed with water and poured over the cracks and hollows to form a smooth, flat base for the new tiles.
Brush a coat of concrete floor sealer over the whole floor. Remove skirting boards and door thresholds before starting work.
Tiles must be laid on a level, firm base because any flexing will crack the grouting. It’s essential that there is a flow of air under the floor to stop condensation forming.
Check that the airbricks around the external walls aren’t blocked with debris or earth. If they are, clear them and check under the floor for signs of damp or mould . Such problems will need professional treatment before the tiles can be laid.
Replace damaged or rotten boards and cover the floor with sheets of 12 mm (1/2 in) exterior-grade plywood, fixed with rustproof screws at 300 mm (12 in) intervals. Pay special attention to the edges and joints.
Next, brush on two coats of a PVA-based sealer to stop the plywood absorbing the floor adhesive. Remove skirting boards and door thresholds so you can tile under these. You will probably need to trim some timber off the bottom of the door as well.
Tiling Walls & Floors
Tiling a wall or floor requires the same basic skills, and it’s essential to get the setting out of the tile positions right before starting work. If you plan to lay thick floor tiles, it’s worth hiring or buying a diamond-disc cutter.
These are very accurate and will cut down the number of wasted tiles. Always wear ear and eye protection when using powered tile cutters.
Tiling a Splashback
A splashback consists of several rows of uncut tiles fixed to the wall at the back of a bathroom or kitchen fixture or work surface.
Even a novice can tackle this job with confidence, as setting out is straightforward and just a few rows of whole tiles should complete the job. You will probably not even need to cut them.
- Place a tile on the wall, level with the work surface. Rest a spacer on the corner of the tile and pencil a mark along the horizontal edge of the spacer. Repeat at one-meter intervals along the wall.
- Join up the pencil marks to give a guideline. Using a spirit level, check the line is horizontal. If it isn’t, draw an accurate horizontal line. You will then have to trim slivers off the bottom row of tiles to fit (see point 7, below).
- Temporarily nail a batten to the wall right under, and aligned with, the line you have marked. Lightly hammer the nails into the wall so that the batten is held firm but the nail heads are left protruding so that you can lever the batten away later.
- Spread the adhesive over the area above the batten. It’s important that the adhesive doesn’t dry out too much, so spread enough to fix only the first row of tiles to start with.
- Start to tile, pressing the tiles gently onto the wall until you see adhesive squeeze out around the sides. Press spacers into each corner and hold a spirit level across the surface of the tiles to check that it is even.
- Add more adhesive for a second row above the first, then fix the tiles. Carry on until you have reached the top of the splashback. When all the tiles are fixed, wipe off excess adhesive and leave to dry for at least four hours.
- Complete the tiling by removing the timber batten and adding the bottom row of tiles, trimming a sliver off the bottom of some tiles if needed.
- Use a squeegee to force grout into the gaps between the tiles. Wipe off the excess grout with a damp sponge, rinsed out regularly in clean water. When the grout has dried, polish with a soft cloth.
- To form a flexible waterproof seal between the new tiles and the worktop or fixture, run a thin strip of waterproof sealant between the lowest tile and the work surface.
See also video below for more info
Tiling a Wall
Use a tile gauge, held vertically, to plan the positions of the tiles, starting at the top of the skirting board.
If you are left with a sliver of tiles at the top, adjust the position of the first row of tiles so that neither the bottom nor the top row is too thin – avoid having less than about a third of a tile’s depth. If you want to tile half the wall, for instance up to a dado rail, use the tile gauge to space the tiles so that there is always a whole row of tiles at the top. Make any cuts at the bottom.
Temporarily nail a guide batten to the bottom of the wall, level with where the top of the bottom row of tiles will fall.
This batten must be horizontal, so check with a spirit level. If you’re tiling over tiles, you can drill holes through the tiles to screw on the batten – you will need a masonry drill bit for this.
To make sure the tiles are spaced evenly across the wall, find the centre of the wall and mark it with a vertical line.
Nail a second, upright batten (use a spirit level to make sure it’s vertical) along the outer edge of where the last complete tile on the bottom row will be.
This will make an exact right angle for you to begin tiling. Work outwards and upwards from the corner formed by the two battens, about 1 sq m/10 sq ft at a time.
Use a tile-cutting jig to trim tiles to fit around edges or awkward areas. Measure the gap to be tiled, allowing for any spacers.
Using a thin fiber-tip pen, mark the tile to be cut and place the tile on the cutting jig. Hold the tile firmly and use an even pressure to score along the line. Break the tile along the line by pressing down on the arm of the tile cutter.
Watch also this video about how to tile a wall below.
Tiling Around a Corner
The rows of tiles at the adjacent faces of an internal corner will have to overlap so that one is behind the other.
Lay the tiles along the face that will fit behind the others first, measuring and cutting each tile to fit the gap. Leave enough space for grout at the edge.
It is best when setting out tiles to plan for whole tiles at each face of an external corner. If this isn’t possible, try to have the whole tile on the face you look at the most. Overlap the tiles at the corner so that the row along one face hides the edges of the row on the other.
Again, you should aim to have the full tile on the wall you look at most. You can also buy a special tile trim that fits around the corner and provides a rounded surface between the two rows of tiles.
Another tutorial video
Tiling Around a Window
Start tiling a wall with a window from the window recess so that most of the cut tiles can be positioned in less conspicuous areas of the wall.
- Set out your tiles as for a normal wall, but adjust the height of the horizontal starting batten so that there is a complete row of whole tiles flush with the bottom edge of the window recess.
- Also, adjust the vertical batten position so that the tiles will be evenly spaced on either side of the window recess.
- Tile the recess so that, if possible, whole tiles are used at the front, and any cut tiles are against the window frame. Work along the window ledge and then up the sides.
- Fit the tiles at the edge of the window ledge in the same way as at an external corner, with the tiles on the ledge overlapping the edges of the tiles on the wall.
- Fix the tiles in the normal way. You may need to add a third batten flush with the top of the window recess to support the tiles directly above the window.
Tiling a Floor
Floors have to take a lot of wear, and tiles provide a good, hardwearing surface, especially for kitchens and bathrooms. Once you have planned the design and prepared the floor, tiling a kitchen or hallway of around 10 sq m/100 sq ft should take a couple of weekends.
It’s not a job for the complete novice, but if you have basic DIY skills, you should be able to tackle plain floor tiles. There’s usually less cutting around awkward shapes than with wall tiles, and you’re not fighting against gravity.
However, if you want to use expensive natural stone, or want a particularly complex pattern, it may be worth calling in an expert.
In the setting out stages, it’s important to make sure the tiles look straight from the entrance to the room. Often walls are bowed or out of true so check your measurements in several places along each wall.
- Find the midpoints of the two longest walls. Stretch a chalk line (a length of line covered in chalk) across the room between these points and ‘snap’ it, tugging it sharply so that it snaps against the floor, to mark a line on the floor halfway along the room.
- Repeat for the shorter walls but adjust the line so that it passes through the centre of the first line at right angles.
- Try to work with as many whole tiles as possible, even if it means adjusting the grout line width slightly. To do this, you could either use thicker spacers or simply make the gaps between the last few rows of tiles at the most inconspicuous end of the room slightly further apart or closer together.
- Lay tiles along the two lines to check they look right from the doorway. If any gaps at the walls are less than half a tile wide, shift the line across to make more of a gap.
Laying the Tiles
- Spread about 1 sq m/10 sq ft of tile adhesive or combined adhesive/grout into one of the right angles made by the two crossing chalk lines. Scrape the notched edge of the spreader across the mix to form ridges of the same thickness.
- Lay the first few tiles along the edge of the longest centre line. Gently press the tiles into place, making sure they also line up with the other centre line. Add plastic spacers at each corner.
- Work outwards from the middle of the room until you have laid all the whole tiles on one-half of the floor, using a spirit level over every three or four tiles as you lay them to check the tiles are at the same level – not necessarily perfectly horizontal, but all surfaces should be flush. Then move across to the other side of the longest centre line and add the rest of the whole tiles.
- Leave to set for 24 hours and don’t walk on the tiles during this time.
- Use the tile cutter to trim the edge tiles to the right shape. Measure the space at both ends of each run of the wall in case the walls are uneven, and remember to allow for the grouting gap. Always wear safety goggles and gloves when you are cutting tiles.
- Leave the adhesive to set for at least 12 hours, then seal the surface if necessary and allow the sealer to dry for at least two hours. Ceramic floor tiles don’t need a coating, but unsealed stone, terracotta, slate, and quarry tiles should be protected with a sealer, available from tile stores or DIY centres.
- Grout between the tiles. Force the grout into the gaps with a squeegee, working from side to side and up and down the tiles. Wipe any grout from the tiles with a damp sponge before it sets hard.
This long video also could give you information about how to tile a floor.
Laying Sheet Vinyl
Vinyl is easy to wipe clean, waterproof, warmer than tiles and can deaden noise. Simple, light-colored designs make a small room feel larger, while bigger patterns are better suited to large rooms.
Cushioned vinyl is comfortable underfoot but can be damaged by heavy wear. Thinner sheet vinyl is harder on the feet but longer-lasting.
Lino is a ‘solid’ sheet flooring similar to vinyl but much more difficult to work with, so best laid by a professional.
Putting Down Vinyl
Vinyl flooring is quite soft – uneven areas underneath will soon show through and spoil the appearance. Before laying the vinyl, vacuum the floor thoroughly and take off your shoes to reduce the chances of grit being trapped under the vinyl and showing through later.
The best solution is to lay an initial covering of hardboard before the vinyl. This provides a smooth surface underneath and will reduce the chance of excessive wear at high points.
Leave the vinyl sheeting in the room for at least a day before laying it, either opened flat or loosely rolled. Vinyl is easier to work if warm, so turning on the central heating for a few hours will help.
Laying a Single Sheet
- Lay the sheet out in a flat, open area and transfer the markings for the room shape on to the sheet, allowing at least 100 mm/4 in overlap all around. Cut off the larger pieces of waste before taking the vinyl into the room.
- Unroll the sheet of vinyl and lay the longest edge against the longest straight wall in the room. Allow about 100 mm/4 in of the vinyl to overlap the wall. Adjust so that any pattern is parallel with the wall.
- Cut slits at right angles to the edges of the vinyl so that it can be pushed into recesses, around chimney breasts, and so on.
- Press the vinyl firmly into each corner, making a downward cut in the vinyl where it overlaps the wall, directly into the corner. Trim the waste from each side of this line until the vinyl fits into the corner.
- Where the vinyl overlaps the wall, use a felt-tip pen to mark a line about 25 mm/1 in from the floor. Trim off the waste above this line with a craft knife.
- Work around the edge of the room, pressing a straight edge against the joint between the floor and the skirting. This will make a crease along which you should cut with a craft knife to give an exact fit. Keep the knife upright.
- Work around door frames or other awkward shapes by pressing the vinyl flat with a paint scraper and cutting around the shape.
- There are always a few shallow air bubbles at this stage, so use a soft broom to push them out.
- Use double-sided tape to fix the vinyl to the floor at a doorway, and fit a threshold strip across the doorway to protect the edge of the sheet.
Wood strip flooring not only looks good, but it’s also simple to maintain and doesn’t harbour dust or other allergy-inducing irritants. Solid wood flooring is the most expensive option and because it’s quite complex to do properly, laying it should only be attempted by very competent DIY enthusiasts.
Laminated and wood-imprint planks, though, are easy to lay. Once the planks are in place, they form a continuous ‘floating’ floor, with a gap around the edge that’s concealed with lengths of wooden beading.
This gap allows the wood to expand slightly if there are changes in temperature or humidity.
Types of Woodstrip Flooring
These are the three main types, but individual products can differ. Some are pre-glued, for instance. So check the product details and the manufacturer’s instructions.
This is where a thin veneer of hardwood sits on top of a cheaper wood, and can only be laid over an existing floor. They are already varnished or finished with a vinyl coating, so need no other treatment.
Made by putting a photographed image of hardwood grain onto thin wood and covering it in hard-wearing resin. They are cheaper than laminated planks and laid in the same way. They also need no extra treatment.
Solid Hardwood Planks
The most expensive wood strip flooring option. Substantially thicker than laminated planks, they can be used in place of floorboards, which will be a more complex installation. Most can be sanded and refinished when the finish has worn. Check with the manufacturer.
Laying Laminate Planks
Laminate flooring needs a resilient underlay whether you’re laying it over a timber or a concrete subfloor. Your flooring supplier will recommend what to use – usually its thin foam. Unroll the underlay across the room, trimming it with a craft knife to fit round any obstacles, and tape the lengths together along the seams with heavy-duty adhesive tape.
Check whether you’ll need to cut any planks lengthwise. Lay the first row of planks against the wall, with the tongue side facing out and the spacers provided with the flooring against the skirting board. Use a sliding bevel to transfer the angle of the end wall to the first board so that it can be sawed to fit. When you reach the other end of the room, measure and saw the last plank to size, allowing room to add a spacer at the end. Slot the plank into place and use the plank puller and a hammer or mallet to make sure that all the joints between the planks are tightly closed.
Start the next row with the offcut from the previous row to ensure that the end joints between planks are staggered. Apply PVA wood adhesive along the grooved edge of each plank, fit it under the tongue of the adjacent plank, and use the tamping tool or a board offcut to protect the edge as you tap the plank against its neighbour.
When you reach the far side of the room, measure the distance between the last row and the skirting board, then cut planks to the width required, less about 6 mm (1/4 in) to allow room for the spacers. Use the plank puller to ensure the last row of planks fits tightly against those in the previous row, and insert the spacers against the skirting board.
If you need to trim a sliver off the bottom of the door frame to insert the flooring, use a tenon saw held parallel to the floor. Cut the plank that will fit at the side of the opening to shape and slip it into place.
When you have finished laying all the planks, saw lengths of quadrant beading (wooden moulding that in cross section is a quarter of a circle) and fit them to the skirting boards all around the room to conceal the expansion gap. At the corners, saw the beading at 45° (you’ll get best results using a mitre box, where the saw is guided at set angles) to create a 90° angle where the two pieces meet. Fix the lengths of beading to the skirting board (not the floor) with panel pins or instant-grip adhesive.
Watch also this video below for another source of info
Cutting to Fit Around a Pipe
To fit the end of a plank around a radiator pipe, first cut the plank so that it reaches all the way to the skirting board.
To mark where to cut a plank on its short side, lay the plank lengthwise alongside the pipe, with the end of the plank touching the skirting board, and mark where the centre of the pipe is on the side edge of the plank. Then move the plank so that the width end touches the pipe, butt the plank up against its neighbour, and mark the position of the pipe centre on the end of the plank.
Draw two straight lines on the plank from the marks, so they meet at a right angle. The meeting point marks the centre of the hole you need to cut for the pipe. Use the same method to mark where to cut a plank on its long side.
Drill a hole at the meeting point of the two lines, with a flat wood bit fractionally larger than the pipe diameter. With the saw, cut a piece out of the plank at right angles to the edge, as far as the centre of the hole so that you can join both pieces of the plank around the pipe. Glue the joint for a neat fit.
Soft Floor Tiles
Soft floor-tiles are the simplest form of floor covering to lay. As they are flexible and relatively thin, it’s important to spend time making sure the floor is smooth and flat – covering floorboards with hardboard is essential to avoid ridges wearing through the tiles.
When you set out the tiles, loose-lay the first rows to check that the edges are parallel with the walls.
- Prepare the floor in the same way as for sheet material.
- Find the middle of the two longest walls and mark across the room between these points with a chalk line.
- Do the same for the shorter walls, marking the second line on the floor. The centre of the room is where the lines cross. If you have a dominant feature in the room, such as a fireplace, centre the line in the middle of the feature instead of the middle of the wall.
- Place the corner of one of your tiles in the angle formed by the two lines to check that they are at right angles to each other, adjusting the shorter line if needed.
- Lay out the tiles, without adhesive, from the point where the lines cross, to check the setting out is correct. If there are thin gaps left at the edges of the room, adjust the lines. If necessary, remove one row of tiles and shift all of them either to the left or the right, leaving a larger gap at the borders. You should aim to leave more than half a tile width at each edge.
Laying the Tiles
- Temporarily nail a straight timber batten along one of the guidelines so that you can butt the tiles against the edge to make a straight line.
- Use the point where the two lines cross as the starting point for tiling. For self-adhesive tiles, peel away the backing paper of the first tile and press it into place against the batten, flush with the other chalk line.
- Lay the second tile on the other side of the chalk line, again butted against the batten. If you are using a tile adhesive, spread enough on the floor to fix around 0.5 sq m/5 sq ft of tiles at a time.
- Work outwards from both tiles, checking that each tile is a tight fit against the fixed tiles. Fit as many whole tiles as possible in one-half of the room.
- Return to the middle of the floor and repeat for the other side of the room. When you have fitted all the whole tiles on this side, work around the wall edges, cutting tiles to fill the remaining spaces.
- Screw a threshold at each door opening for a neat finish.
Cutting Tiles at an Edge
You are unlikely to be able to fit whole tiles around the edges of the floor area and will have to cut them to fit.
- When you have fitted all the whole tiles possible, lay a loose tile on top of one of the last whole tiles at an edge.
- Lay another whole tile on top of this one, and slide it towards the wall until it touches the edge.
- Mark along the line where the top tile overlaps the loose tile underneath it, then cut this middle tile along the line. The cut-off section will fit into the edge.
- Cut the tiles along a straight edge with a craft knife held upright.
Fitting Carpet Tiles
Carpet tiles are much easier to lay than carpet, and if an area becomes worn or stained, the affected pieces are easy to replace.
Prepare and lay the carpet tiles using much the same method as for vinyl, with the following differences:
- Adjust the tiles so that you have full-size tiles at the door entrance.
- Lay the tiles in the same weave direction (using the arrow on the back of each tile as a guide) or make a chequered pattern by laying alternate tiles with the arrows in opposite directions.
- Cut border tiles by making a cut at each edge and scoring across the back with a craft knife (use a metal straight-edge as a guide for scoring) before cutting.
New Carpets & Offcuts
Carpets add a touch of luxury to any room, as well as reducing noise levels in the rooms below. Choose a grade of carpet according to the amount of wear and tear it will receive. Hallways and stairs need to be very hard-wearing, but bedroom carpets can be lightweight.
There are moisture-resistant grades available for kitchens and bathrooms. New carpets are expensive so fitting them is best left to a professional.
However, using a remnant to cover a small floor, or cutting down a larger carpet to fit a new space, is well within the scope of the novice.
Fitting a Carpet Offcut
- If you’re buying new, prepare the floor in the same way as for sheet vinyl. If you don’t prepare with hardboard, make sure you hammer down any protruding nails and staples in floorboards.
- There is only one proper way to secure carpet edges. This is to nail gripper strips (lengths of thin plywood batten with angled metal spikes on the upper face) around the edge of the room, about 6 mm (1/4 in) away from the bottom edge of the skirting board so that the carpet can be pushed into the gap to form a neat edge.
- If you’re fitting a separate underlay, do this now. Align the edge of the carpet with one wall of the room and roll out the carpet. Use a knee kicker (which can be hired) to stretch the carpet between this wall and the opposite wall, and push the carpet on to the gripper strip spikes or fold it over.
- Smooth the carpet from the centre outwards, fixing it along the remaining walls. Use a bolster chisel to push the carpet into the gap between the skirting and the gripper strips.
- Join sections of carpet with double-sided carpet-tape. Fix the tape to the floor directly beneath the joint and press the edge of each section of carpet on to it.
- Trim off the excess carpet with a craft knife held at 45° to the wall. If possible, tuck the cut edge under the skirting board with the bolster chisel.
- Cut the carpet to fit around the door frames, and screw threshold bars across the doorways for a neat finish.
It’s vital that a good underlay is used under all but foam-backed carpets. It adds to the warmth of the carpet, reduces wear, and helps dampen noise. Never use old newspapers instead. Where there are small gaps between floorboards, put down a layer of building paper (a tough, water-resistant paper sold at builders’ merchants) and place the underlay over the top.
Buy the best quality underlay available because the foam on cheaper varieties can harden and crumble. Tufted carpets may have their underlay backing, so check before buying.
- Try to use a complete piece of underlay for the whole floor.
- If you have to join sections, butt the edges closely together and fix with a strip of carpet tape (as described in step 5, Fitting a Carpet Offcut).
- Trim the underlay with a craft knife to fit the edge of the skirting or the inner edge of the gripper strips.
- Make sure there are no bubbles or creases in the material, as this will show through the carpet.
Choosing and Laying a Threshold Bar
To form a neat edge across doorways, fit a threshold bar. DIY stores and flooring specialists stock these bars in a variety of finishes, including chrome and gold.
If you are laying carpet, choose threshold bars with upturned spikes on the bottom fixing plate. For laminate or vinyl floors, look for a threshold with a smooth fixing plate.
Double-sided bars have a raised T-shaped centre section that overlaps the floor coverings on either side of the doorway.
- Measure the exact width of the doorway and trim the bar to size with a small hacksaw.
- Fix to the floor by screwing through the holes in the fixing plate.
- Tuck the flooring edge into the bar.
Fitting Offcut Stair Carpet
Fitting an offcut of carpet on a stairway isn’t difficult, providing you don’t rush the work. You will need an extra half a meter (about one and a half foot) of carpeting in length – this allows the carpet to be moved later to even out wear and tear (see step 4).
- Prise out tacks and nails from old floor-coverings, and repair loose treads (the horizontal ‘steps’) and risers (the upright sections between each step).
- Cut a gripper strip to fit at the bottom of each riser and another to fit the back of each tread – fit them so that they abut each other at right angles in the corner of each step, with the spikes facing into the angle made by the strips. Fit on all except the bottom step.
- Cut a separate piece of underlay to fit on each tread, or buy underlay pads from a carpet supplier (who will cut them to fit your specifications). The front edge folds over the front lip of the step and is tacked to the underside of the tread. Tack the back edge just in front of the gripper strip.
- Start laying the carpet at the bottom of the stairs. The carpet’s pile should face down the stairs so that footsteps don’t rub the pile the wrong way. Hide enough extra carpet, by doubling it behind the bottom step, to allow for the carpet to be moved occasionally to spread wear on the nosings (the rounded fronts of the steps). Tack the carpet to the back of the first tread. Add tacks at the bottom of the first riser and then work up the stairs.
- Using a wide-bladed cold chisel, push the carpet tightly into the angle formed by the gripper strips at each step.
- When you reach the top of the stairs, take the carpet to the top of the last riser and trim it with a heavy-duty knife. Tack it in place. You must allow enough upstairs hall carpet to fold down over the lip of the top stair.