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Carpet Installation

Correct installation is imperative for any carpet to perform successfully, both during use and after cleaning. Here are some points to consider any time carpet is installed or reinstalled.

Most residential and some commercial carpet is installed over a cushion or pad and is fastened to the floor by stretching the carpet onto pins protruding from wooden strips around the perimeter of the installation area. The wooden strip with projecting tacks or pins is known as "tackless strip," so named because it contrasts with the now-obsolete installation method whereby carpet was tacked directly to the floor.

A properly installed carpet must be fully stretched according to the manufacturer's specifications. All the "give" in new carpet must be removed during installation, so that no buckling, rippling or "growth" occurs during use. Unfortunately, many carpet installers now use a "knee kicker" device rather than a proper power stretcher. The knee kicker is seldom, if ever, capable of adequately stretching carpet to correct specifications. With use, the carpet shifts, especially in high traffic areas, and appears lumpy, with buckles, bumps and waves (or worse), and often requires reinstallation.

Another carpet installation problem is poor seaming when carpet sections are joined. Over time and with wear, the defective seam comes apart. A seam is no better than the quality of the seaming tape used and the care taken by the installer who joins the carpet sections.

Cut carpet edges first must be beaded or "buttered" with a line of carpet adhesive. The edges are then brought together, forming the seam, which is held in place with hot-melt seam tape or other manufacturer-specified method. Very few carpet installers do this step properly, if they do it at all. Low quality installation usually involves the use of a poor grade adhesive seaming tape, with the least amount of glue. The result is a weak seam, prone to break open when subjected to normal use or to the ordinary mechanical action of carpet cleaning.

Some woven carpets, such as Axminster or Wilton, call for specialized seaming methods. Many are made with natural fiber backing, such as jute or cotton, and even minimal shrinkage during wet cleaning may be enough to break open seams. These special woven carpets, and certain custom-made carpets, require either hand-sewn seams or use of only top grade seaming tape to properly join carpet sections. A split seam is the likely result of improper or insufficient seaming during installation; usually it is not the fault of the carpet cleaner.

Stretched-in carpets absolutely MUST be power stretched to avoid buckles and ripples later on. Alternately, many commercial carpets may be glued down, using a contact-type adhesive, which is a better method for carpet in high-use areas or under moving furniture. Proper trowel-notch size and "open time" (time it takes for the adhesive to develop "legs"), as well as proper floor preparation and adhesive selection are all required for a successful installation. A newer method of contract carpet installation is "double glue down." In this process, the cushion is glued to the floor, then the carpet is glued to the cushion.

Many consumers find "new carpet odor" objectionable. To minimize odor, it helps to air a new carpet before it is installed. The carpet retailer or the installer may be able to unroll the carpet and air it for a few days prior to delivery and installation. An in-plant rug cleaner, with controlled drying room facilities, also may be able to assist with airing new carpet. Once the carpet is installed, keep all areas well ventilated. Open windows, open the air conditioner's fresh air vent, keep inside doors ajar, and move as much fresh air as possible through the newly carpeted area. In a short time the new carpet will be "right at home," bringing great pleasure to all.

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