Saturday, February 20, 2010

How to put in carpet tack strips

If you're reading the title of this blog post and thinking, 'Why is putting in carpet tack strips newsworthy enough to deserve it's own blog entry?' well then, you've probably never done it before.

See, installing carpet tack strips is a big, huge, pain in the butt. It beats just about any other project we've done in terms of frustrating, and if you get it wrong, you've got chunks out of your slab from the concrete nails and chunks out of your fingers from the tacks. Not fun.

I invite you to review this short article on how to install carpet. See the first picture of the guy hammering on a tack strip, followed by the photo of the neatly attached tack strip? There are even concrete nails pre-installed in the strip so you can just hammer them into the slab, and volia! your tackstrip is installed.

Ha. Ha. Ha. NOTHING could be further from the truth of how it actually happens.

First of all, when you have a 60 year old slab, any attempt to hammer a nail into the concrete is going to result in a small divet in the concrete shattering into a million little pieces. So, wear safety glasses. Next, those little tack strips are the flimsiest, crappiest pieces of wood possible, so if you the likelihood of breaking or splintering the wood is high. And remember, this is what's holding your carpet down, so you've got to get it more or less right. Finally, those little tacks that stick straight up are FANTASTIC for grabbing an unsuspecting bit of skin and ripping it wide open. I'm fairly certain that you're required to bleed on your new carpet for it to install correctly.

Enter the Ramset, a relatively benign looking piece of equipment that actually uses 22 caliber shells to drive nails into concrete.

Because we needed ANOTHER tool. Really we did! Oh well, at least it won't take up much space.

Yeah, you read right. It uses 22 caliber shells.

Does this make it a firepower tool?

Basically you load the thing up with a shell and a special nail (in the orange box), put on your ear protection, put on some more ear protection (oh and don't forget your safety goggles), clear everyone from the house, and then gently tap on the end of the Ramset until the powder explodes. They you hope you haven't blown a hole through the tack strip or chipped the concrete. Lather, rinse, repeat. It drives the nail in correctly about 2/3 of the time... if you're lucky.

So the hubby managed to install the tack strips and then the carpeting in the guest bedroom, which will be our bedroom until we get to the addition. I should note that installing carpet is another job that we've done before and swore we wouldn't do again... so I'm still not sure how it happened that we were installing carpet at 9:30 on a Thursday night, but it's done now. And after we were done, I had to paint over the powder burns from the Ramset.

Powder burns on the fresh paint from the Ramset. There is something vaguely unsettling about this...

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