How to Cut Carpet Properly [Easy Step-By-Step Guide]

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how to cut carpet

Cutting carpet is one of those jobs that looks easy at first glance. All you really have to do is cut it with a knife and move on, right?

In actuality, the process of cutting carpet accurately and in a straight line is fairly complex. 

The technique requires some practice and proper preparation before you can get a clean, straight cut. Once you get the hang of it though, you can make the intricate cuts needed to professionally carpet a room. 

In this guide, we have put together some preparations to take before you start cutting that new piece of carpet. By following these suggestions, you can get neat, precise cuts for your carpeting project. 

Cutting Carpet: Basic Idea

It may take some practice, but to get yourself started on the right foot with cutting carpet, you should: 

  • Use a sharp utility knife
  • Break the carpet into workable pieces
  • Cut on the backside
  • Use a double-blade wall trimmer on the edges

Why is it Important to Cut Carpeting Properly?

cut carpeting properly

When you are laying carpet in a home, accuracy and precision is key to a professional-looking job. 

Carpet that is crooked or looks skewed can ruin the aesthetic of an entire room. Crooked cuts can also throw off your measurements. 

Should you improperly cut carpet that you are laying, you could end up having to throw it out and start over. This can impede the process and end up costing you a lot more. 

The key to doing any home improvement job is to do it right the first time. By knowing how to accurately cut carpet, you can save yourself time and money by not wasting product. 

Start With a Sharp Utility Knife

A utility knife is a razor blade that is meant to withstand pressure and be easy to use precisely. 

It has a large grip that is angled in order to get the most leverage on things that are tough to cut through. They are especially effective on carpeting and carpet padding. 

Before you begin a new carpet cutting job, equip your utility knife with brand new blades. Dull blades are not only harder to precisely cut with, they can be incredibly dangerous. 

Do not try to cut carpet with a standard X-Acto knife. They are meant for cutting things like paper and cardboard and you can not get enough leverage with them. 

Separate the Carpet Into Smaller Pieces

Most carpet comes on a large roll when you buy it from the supplier or flooring store. 

This large roll can be difficult to work with and unwieldy for measuring and cutting. 

To be able to accurately measure and cut the carpet, cut it into smaller pieces. You will then be able to flip it over and move it around easier to make the precision cuts. 

Always cut off more than you think you will need for the job at hand. The old adage, “measure twice, cut once” applies to carpet just like it does to anything else. 

By getting a ballpark idea of how much you will need for a job, you can cut it to measure. Then, you can make your precision cuts as needed to fit it perfectly in the room. 

Make Precision Cuts on the Backside

The most important thing to remember when cutting carpet is to not cut it on the actual carpet side. 

Carpeting has a mesh backing that is usually made of polypropylene. The carpet fibers themselves aren’t difficult to cut, but this backing is incredibly sturdy. 

By cutting on the backside, you can get the knife in the backing first and can bypass the fibers. You can always cut the fibers on the top after you have made your precision cuts on the backing. 

The backing is also flat, so you can mark off your cut lines where you can see them.

Trying to accurately cut on the fiber side is too difficult and you risk marking up the carpet itself. On the backside, you can make as many marks as you want and they won’t show in the final product. 

Use a Double-Blade Wall Trimmer Along Stopping Points

double blade wall trimmer

Once you get the carpet put in place, you will probably have to trim some excess along the walls. 

This excess can be difficult to accurately cut in a straight line with a utility knife. This is especially true since getting to the backing will be harder once it is in the room. 

To make accurate cuts along walls and stopping points, use a double-blade wall trimmer. 

This tool has a handle and a fence that runs along the wall. You will be able to get good leverage on the fiber side, so you don’t need to turn it over. 

The double-blade wall trimmer will fold the carpeting along the wall and cut where the fold is. 

By using this tool instead of the utility knife, you can make clean, accurate cuts along walls and thresholds. 


faq how to cut carpet
  • How do you stop fraying when cutting carpet?

To mitigate fraying of the fibers when cutting carpet, tape along your cut lines. The tape will hold the fibers in place as you cut and they won’t rip out from the backing. 

This is especially helpful on lines that are butted against walls and other stopping points. 

  • How do you cut carpet padding without tearing?

To cut carpet padding without tearing, make sure your knife is very sharp. Carpet padding rips easily and you need the knife to cut it more efficiently than tearing would.

 Apply lots of pressure and make firm cuts. 

  • What side of the carpet padding faces up?

There are two sides to carpet padding: one that is smooth and one that is rough.

The rough side of the padding will be face down so it can grip the wood flooring slats. The smoother side should be face up so you can maneuver the carpet over it while installing. 


Cutting carpet can be frustrating if you are not using the right tools and have not done the proper preparation. This is especially true if you are installing a large amount and having to make long cuts. 

By following these simple steps, you can focus on getting a clean install and not worry about inaccurate cut lines. 

Photo of author


Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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