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My living room is carpeted. I'd like to install a built-in bookcase/media center along one wall. Should I cut out the carpet and install the bookcases directly on the slab, or is it safe to install them over the existing carpet? At some point we'd like to replace the carpet with laminate, but this is probably a few years down the road.

If I do need to remove the carpet, what can I do to ensure that it cleanly fits in with the bookcase after I'm done?

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2 Answers 2

I think you can go either way regarding the carpet. Installing the book case is really not much different from moving a piece of furniture shelving along a wall, filling it up with things and then letting it stay there for 10 or 15 years.

Since you are installing a built-in unit it is probably being custom made. As such you may want to consider how the bottom of it designed so that it has a base that is a nice streamlined rectangular shape. This would greatly simplify cutting carpet now or dealing with future flooring installs. This would be as opposed to having shelf sides or back panels that come all the way to the floor where the carpet or new flooring would have to be fitted all around the shape of the unit's foot print.

My recommendation is that since you are planning floor covering replacement within the time frame that you will have to deal with it that you get the footprint to be "as easy as possible" like I discussed above and then cut the existing carpet, tack strips and padding away from where the new unit will sit. Then set your unit right down on the sub-floor. Doing so will necessitate that you install new tack strip along the front of the unit (and maybe the sides) to re-stretch and hook the carpet to for the duration of the time you keep the existing carpet.

Cutting the carpet is relatively easy. Measure carefully where the cuts need to be made and then lay down a metal carpet cutting guide. Use a carpet cutting knife to slit along the metal guide down into the carpet and pad. Note that sometimes it can be helpful to use heavy weights or medium sandbags to hold the cutting guide in place during measurement and placement.

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I built bookcases right on top of the carpeting and I've been perfectly happy with the result. I was a little concerned when we decided to replace the carpeting but the installers simply cut away the carpet at the bottom of the book case and went ahead with the install.

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