Professional carpet installers should use both a knee kicker and a power stretcher. So, what’s the difference?
A power stretcher is a long tool that stretches from one side of the room to the other. It’s used to stretch carpet in large areas. The head is placed by the loose edge of the carpet and grips the carpet in order to pull it tight. A long pole is placed from the head to the opposite wall. A lever is then pumped by the arms, which creates pressure and stretches the carpet with greater force than a knee kicker is able to create.
A knee kicker is a smaller tool, generally used to stretch a carpet in a small space, like in a closet or on stairs. It can also be used to position the power stretcher. What’s considered a “small” room? Generally, a knee kicker is suggested for rooms 10’ x 10’ or smaller. To use a knee kicker the installer will get on the floor and “kick” the tool with his knee. The head grips the carpet and the kicking on the back end stretches it. A knee kicker, by itself, doesn’t have the power to effectively install carpet in a large room. It will leave too much slack in the carpet. This slackness, unseen at first, will appear in the form of carpet ripples, possibly in a matter of months, depending upon the room’s use. If you find that your installer stretched a large carpet with a knee kicker, you will most likely have to get someone to come back with a power stretcher to fix the ripples all too soon.
You’ll want to note that most carpet manufacturers state their carpets must be power stretched when installed. Installing a large, high quality carpet with a knee kicker causes you to lose some of that quality. Not to mention, improper installation may invalidate your warranty with the manufacturer. Carpet can be a large investment. To ensure your investment, always make sure your installer is using the proper tools for the job.
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