Carpet is a common type of flooring material used in indoor and outdoor applications for homes and offices. While it is simple enough to cut carpet with a utility knife or carpet shears, there are methods you can use to streamline the process and ensure that your cuts are efficient and clean, rather than ragged and time-consuming. With the proper tools and methods, you can easily cut carpet to fit in any installation area.
Carpet shears are the preferred method for cutting large areas of carpet, as they are far more efficient than using a carpet knife. You can use hand-held shears or electronic shears, depending on your personal preference and the amount of carpet you are cutting. Carpet shears allow you a clean edge, which is ideal for butting two seams together, such as in the middle of a room. Shears are also the ideal method for cutting marine-backing on outdoor carpets, as well as turfs which can unravel when cut with a knife.
Carpet knives are similar in theory to regular utility knives, but they are specifically designed to cut carpet. They are ideal for areas where you need to cut around things such as heating vents, doorways or cabinets, or for trimming up edges such as around walls where you may have cut a little long with your initial measurements. Carpet knives, as well as utility knives, can be used for cutting backed carpet, regardless if it is indoor or outdoor, although the sharper the blade the less likely for carpet ravels to accidentally snag on the blade and come undone rather than be cut through.
Straightedges are the perfect tool for cutting long, straight sections of carpet where you need to ensure the overall straightness of the actual cut. Placing the straightedge along the edge you need to cut allows you to press your carpet knife or carpet sheers directly against the tool, giving you a guide as you cut your way across a section of carpet. This applies to both indoor and outdoor types.
While it is possible to cut the carpet from the top side, you can achieve a cleaner cut by flipping the carpet over and cutting it from the back side of the material. The back of the material may also be marked with pencils, markers or a chalk line for reference points while cutting, which is more accurate than trying to cut from the top side. This method is useful for carpet that has backing. Carpet without backing can be cut regardless of the direction of the piece.
Tim Anderson has been freelance writing since 2007. His has been published online through GTV Magazine, Home Anatomy, TravBuddy, MMO Hub, Killer Guides and the Delegate2 group. He spent more than 15 years as a third-generation tile and stone contractor before transitioning into freelance writing.