Replacing the carpet in your classic can make a big difference when it comes to look of your interior. Carpet wears out, get dirty, shrinks, and fades, but installing a new molded carpet is a fairly economical way to freshen up that dingy interior. With a few simple tips you will be “cutting a rug” in no time.
1. Buy Quality Parts – In the means of carpet, quality is not hard to come by. Companies like Ecklers, Year One, and Classic Industries sell carpet that is usually comparable in price and quality. When choosing a molded carpet make sure to buy one with the jute backing attached. The jute works as an insulation and sound deadener, while also helping with way it forms to the contours of the floor. As with any aftermarket part that is mass produced, make sure you inspect it for defects and sizing before installation. I suggest having all seats and trim removed and lay the carpet in place to make sure there is plenty of material hanging over the edges.
2. Get as much out of the way as possible – I suggest removing as much as possible. This means kick panels, consoles, shifters, seats, seat belts, and rear trim panels. Even if the carpet only tucks underneath it is still easier to remove the item rather than try to work around it. Once the carpet is cut, repairing it is not really an option you will want to consider, so having plenty of room to work with is a much safer alternative.
3. Re install all of your bolts – Once you have removed the old carpet and cleaned the floor, re install all the bolts that were holding down the seats, seat belts, console, shifter and any other part that may have been bolted to the floor. These bolts will be your guide as to where to cut the holes in the new carpet. Make small cuts. You can always remove more material, but it is very hard to repair if a cut has been made to large. After you have reinstalled all of the bolts and before you install you new carpet it is a good time to add another form of insulation, like Dynamat or Hushmat. These supplemental sound and heat barriers can make a world of difference when it comes to road noise coming from the floor.
4. Steam to shape – Most molded carpet sets are folded, rolled, and shipped in a box that is not as big as you might think. This will cause the carpet to crease, wrinkle, and become slightly deformed. For a carpet to fit and lay down as best as possible an upholstery steamer works wonders on these areas. I recommend laying the carpet out on a flat surface for a couple days prior to installation. This gives it time to relax from being bound up inside the box. An upholstery steamer can work wonders on your new carpet. Before installation, place the steamer underneath the folds and creases while the carpet is still on the floor. Pull and stretch these areas until the crease as unnoticeable as possible. The steamer will also allow you to stretch and massage the carpet into contoured areas during installation.
5. Work inside out – When you are finally ready to start cutting on the carpet, start from the center and work your way out. Make sure you are centered, I like to start in the middle and install each component as you work your way out, moving from side to side. Make sure your last cut is on the outside edges. New carpet usually has enough material add to the edges to overhang the rocker panels. This will give you more than enough room to make and accurate cut. For example after you have cut you hole for you shifter, re install it. If you do this with each component, it will hold you carpet in place allowing for more accurate cuts. I also only recommend using a minimum amount of contact glue. The seats, seat belts, and sill plates will help hold the carpet in place so only a small amount is really needed.
6. Sharp knives work best – When cutting carpet I have always used a brand new sharp razor knife. A dull blade requires you to force the knife when making cuts. When this happens you run the risk of cutting yourself. (Or worse your CAR!!) Carpet and the jute backing will dull a blade in a hurry, so don’t be afraid to change blades often.
As with and installation, taking your time is the number on aspect of make each and every install look as good as possible. Using these few tips will ensure that you can “cut a rug” with ease.