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Carpet stretchers are simple hand tools that are used in the installation of wall to wall carpeting. The main function of the stretcher is to make sure the carpeting is flat and tight across the surface of the floor, with no wrinkles or folds that would make it unsafe to walk across the carpet. A carpet stretcher is often used in conjunction with other carpet tools to ensure the carpet installation is completed professionally.
The basic design for a carpet stretcher involves a long body that is equipped with one or more rows of teeth along the bottom side of the device. An activation lever makes it possible to use the stretcher to make sure the carpeting is taut before the last side of the carpet is tacked into place. While the length of the stretcher makes the tool somewhat difficult for one person to move around with ease, it is lightweight enough that an individual can move the device into position if necessary.
When installing carpeting, a carpet stretcher is often used in tandem with another tool known as a knee kicker. The knee kicker is much shorter and as the name implies is moved across the surface of the carpet using the knees. Once the carpeting is secured along one wall, the installation crew will use a knee kicker to advance toward the opposite wall, smoothing wrinkles along the way. After reaching the opposite wall, the carpet stretcher is then called into service.
To use the carpet stretcher, one end of the device is placed against the wall where the carpeting has already been secured. The other end is aimed toward the opposing wall. Because the teeth on the underside of the stretcher grab the carpeting, it is possible to use the lever to stretch the carpet in the direction of the opposite wall. As the carpet stretches, any folds or wrinkles that were left after using the knee kicker will smooth out.
Once the entire length of carpet has been stretched, the edging of the carpeting can be secured along the opposite wall. The carpet stretcher can be used as often as necessary to create the smooth flow of the carpeting desired, although in many cases one round is sufficient. Once the carpeting is tacked into place, the lever can be used to release the grip of the teeth on the carpeting and the tool can be used to stretch and secure the carpeting along the other two walls in the room.
It is possible to purchase a carpet stretcher at many building supply stores, as well as a number of hardware stores. Some designs call for teeth set into a hardwood body, although most stretchers today are made of heavy duty metal. A good quality stretcher can easily last through many years of use, provided the tool is cleaned and stored properly.