How To Place Tackless Strip

How to place Tackless strip Correctly
by Michael Lassetter
June 10, 2009
A section of architectural tackstrip abutted correctly to the cushion
M-D Building Products 75312 Extra Wide Tack Strip 1"x48"  

Tackstrip layeded correctly around the perimeter of the room.

Tackless strip is just tackstrip, right?  No! Tackstrip has a very important role in the installation of carpet in many applications.  Following is an explanation of the types of tackstrip, its various uses, and tips to remember when selecting and installing tackstrip.

Types of Tackless strip

Tackstrip correctly positioned around each spindle on a stair.

Q.E.P./Roberts 10-750 Carpet Installation Tool Kit

First, lets identify the various types of tackstrip.  They each have an important role to play in the installation of carpet. Until tackstrip was developed in the 1930s, most residential floors were made of hardwood.  Carpets that were available were either loose laid or turned and tacked and fastened to the floor with upholstery tacks.  The new innovation of tackless carpet gripper revolutionized the carpet industry by making carpet both easier and more economical to lay.  Today, the product is known as smoothedge, carpet strip, tackless strip, gripper, tackless carpet gripper and tackstrip.  Whatever you call it, there are several important factors to consider when selecting the tackstrip that is most appropriate for the job.  These include the width of the strip, the type of anchoring nail, the length of the strip, the type of wood, the pin height, the bevel angle and if aluminum strip is considered, the type of substrate and the height of the carpet.

1. 1-inch wide and -inch thick with two (2) rows of pins -- meets the minimum requirement The type of tackstrip that is recommended by CFI, the CRI-105 and the CRI-104 is the most commonly used.  The plywood is one full inch wide.  Front and back rows of pins are moved farther apart for extra strength and easier hooking with heavily-latexed backed carpets or thick cushion. 

2. 1-3/4 inch wide and -inch thick with (3) rows of pins Architectural/Commercial            This is the type of tackstrip used for difficult installations.  Three rows of pins are spaced equally over a 1-3/4 inch wide strip.  Anchoring nails are positioned closer to the wall to prevent the strip from lifting during stretching.  This is the tackstrip to use when holding power is required both commercially and residentially.  According to standards, Use architectural tackstrip for stretches exceeding 30-feet in length or width, heavily-latexed backed carpets most woven and Berber style carpet.

3. 1-1/4 inch wide and -inch thick with (3) rows of pins Tri-Tack tackstrip Introduced in the mid-1990s, Tri-Tack is the fastest growing type of tackstrip sold today.  With a full 3 rows of pins set in a 1-1/4 inch wide plywood strip, it is an economical alternative to double-stripping and full width commercial tackstrip.  Tri-Tack provides extra insurance on difficult residential installations and is excellent for use on Berbers.  It is available in pre-nailed wood, pre-nailed concrete, heavy-duty concrete and dual purpose pre-nailed.

Pin Height

All types of Tackless strip are available in several different pin heights in order to accommodate even the most exacting carpet installation requirements. 

Long Pin (C-Pin) -- -inch pin height is used for carpets with rough or heavily latexed thick backings where extra penetration is required.

Medium Pin (E-Pin) -- 7/32-inch pin height of the most commonly stocked tackstrip.

Short Pin (D-Pin) -- 3/16-inch pin height to use with dense pile carpets to avoid pins penetrating through the face pile of the carpet.

Extra Short Pin (J-Pin) -- 5/32-inch pin height to use with low-profile carpet, wovens, fine velours, and velvets with thin backings.

Length of the Tackless strip

Tackstrip is held back from the edge on the riser to allow the carpet to be folded in place.

The four-foot tackstrip is the traditional length because the American standard plywood panel is 4 x 8 feet.  Plywood panels that are imported from Russia are 5 x 5 feet, which require fewer lengths per installation, less cutting time and is often more economical than the four-foot tackstrip.

Bevel Angle of the Tackstrip

Carpet folded in place and not on top of the tackstrip.

Bevel angles on most brands of tackstrip vary between 19-degrees and 30-degrees.  The higher angles create a larger space to tuck the carpet between the tackstrip and the wall.

Aluminum Tackstrip

Aluminum tackstrip is an effective alternative when layinging carpet in areas where water damage, termite damage and other types of damage to plywood strips are risks.  It is also a practical solution for high traffic areas such as entry ways and doorways where tall pins penetrate through carpet and pose danger. 

Shorter than J-pins, aluminum strips 1/8-inch pins are angled to grip through the carpet instead of sticking up through it.  Aluminum carpet tackstrip can be installed with any carpet, but it is particularly useful with low-profile carpet.  The tackstrip is 1-inch wide, over 240 pins per 4-foot length and contains a groove for adhesive beading when nailing is not feasible.  It will not rust or rot and is made with 100% high strength aluminum. 

Problems That Can Occur When Using the Incorrect Tackstrip

1. The one-inch strip contains nails that are farther from the wall.  Tackstrip that is  narrower in width can cause more missed hits and increased damage to the wood or painted wallbase.

2. Tackstrip that is narrower than one-inch in width makes it more difficult to attach the carpet to the tackstrip, especially with heavily latexed carpet backings or over a thick cushion.  Note:  Cushion should never be higher than the tackstrip.

3. Narrower widths of tackstrip are not a strong as wider ones, causing a greater risk of broken tackstrips and an increased need for double stripping.

Tackstrip Use


Appropriate tackstrip must be used for different substrates and carpet backings.

Gypcrete, also called elasticel or acoustical concrete: tackstrip is available prenailed with a 1-1/4 inch spiral shank concrete nail for this specialty concrete.

Architectural and Tri-tack tackstrip are to be used with most woven carpets, carpets with heavily latexed backs, berber style carpets and on any areas that exceed 30-feet in length.  It is acceptable to double the 1-inch tackstrip.

Installation of Tackstrip

1. The tackstrip is securely fastened around the perimeter of the room with the pins pointing toward the wall.

2.  The gully, which is the space between the edge of the tackstrip and the wall, is slightly less than the thickness of the carpet; not to exceed 3/8-inch.

3. lay the tackstrip to follow the exact contours of the walls.  The tackstrip must be cut to the  proper lengths to accomplish this. 

4. A minimum of two (2) nails must be used to secure each section of tackstrip to the floor. 

5.  The tackstrip may be glued to certain types of flooring when nails are not an option, such as with radiant heated floors or drainage systems.  Tackstrip nails cannot be driven into  conduit or tubing.

6. Urethane construction adhesive sets up quickly and is stronger than normal construction adhesive.

7. Tackstrip can also be layeded using hot-melt adhesive designed for this procedure.

8. Carpet should never be stapled to the tackstrip.

9. When installing carpet onto all substrates, the tackstrip must be properly secured.

10. Do not place tackstrip in doorways or across openings to rooms where the carpet flows continuously and is not interrupted by different types of flooring surfaces.

11. Avoid installing tackstrip to join two carpets at an inside doorway or across door openings. 

12. The carpet sections are to be seamed.

Tackstrip Recommendations for Double-Glue Installations

1. Tackstrip can be used, but is not necessary.  If tackstrip is not used, it is recommended that wallbase be layinged.  If vinyl or rubber wallbase is used, it must have toe.

2. If tackstrip is used, the carpet edges can be tucked into the gully and secured without the use of wallbase.  This procedure positions and holds the carpet in place during the curing of the adhesive.

3. The use of tackstrip is determined by the thickness of the cushion and carpet to assure that the pins do not penetrate through the carpet.  If tackstrip is used, the cushion must be at least as thick as the tackstrip or at least -inch in height or it will create a picture framing appearance because the cushion is thinner than the tackstrip.

4. Tackstrip also assists during patterned carpet alignment by maintaining stretch as needed.

5. If difficult situations should arise, the use of tackstrip will assist in solving the problem.

6. Use shorter pinned tackstrip with lower-pile height carpets.  If not available, shorten the height of the pins by using binding tape, ActionBac backing or similar products.

Tackstrip Recommendations for Aligning Patterns

Matching patterned carpet is ALWAYS a challenge. The tools that CFI has introduced or re-introduced to installers in the last 16+ years have certainly made a difference.  Should you encounter pattern elongation in a direct-glue installation; a situation that exists when a pattern on a breadth of carpet is larger than the pattern on the adjoining breadth, use the information that appeared in an earlier issue of Floor Covering Installer.  This method is designed to take the place of stay nails.

Tackstrip on Stairs

1. Tackstrip placement is very important and must be secured to the riser and the tread.

2. The gully is less than twice the thickness of the carpet.

3. Measure the width of the riser to determine the length of the tackstrip.

4. The tackstrip pins point down on the riser, approximately to 1 above the tread.

5.  The proper gully must be maintained throughout the tackstrip installation.

6.  Secure the tackstrip to the tread with the pins pointing toward the riser above.

7. Next, secure the tackstrip evenly around each spindle, leaving a gully of 3/8 or less.

8. Hold each section in place with a minimum of two nails, pointing the tackstrip pins toward the spindles.  

As you can see, tackstrip and the correct application of the tackstrip are the trademarks of a professional flooring installer.  If you have discovered additional uses for tackstrip, let CFI know so we can share this information with other installers.  



Michael Lassetter
Michael Lassetter is National Director of Technical Services for CFI. He is the recipient of the Charles R. Gress Award, CFI Certified Intstaller #3411, and is very proud of his long association with CFI.