Insurance work: the replacement (of equal value) due to a catastrophic and/or unforeseen happening that warrants the replacement of the insured goods. We have all done this type of work or worked for someone who does. It is not the most glamorous end of our business due to the job site conditions we have to work in and the scheduling nightmare it causes because they needed it done yesterday. Sometimes it is flood damage; water-soaked rug and pad are not the easiest to remove. Sometimes it's fire/smoke damage; you and your van will smell like a wet fireplace for weeks.
The upside to insurance work is that it can be very lucrative; good money is paid, in a timely manner, for good work performed. This is the story of one replacement job that I was indirectly involved with when a very good friend (who owns the place of business) called me regarding the workmanship of the installation.
The job was in a professional office environment where clients would come for services performed on site, like a doctor's office. The old carpet and pad was removed; this was a strip-and-pad job that had 15-20 good years on it. The new carpet was to be double-stick with commercial grade unitary latex-backed carpet and padding. The concern was the aesthetic appearance of the carpet where it met the walls. (Photos 1-4)
The photos show a sizeable hump where the carpet appears to be tucked in the gully, space between the tack strip and the wall. As I ran my fingers down this gully, I found that the pins on the tack strip are protruding through the backing and into the face yarn. This is not a good situation from a maintenance standpoint because it makes it very hard to clean this v-shaped gully (Photos 5, 6, and 7).
Now hold on; some of you are probably already blowing the horn because tack strip is not normally used in a glue down type install. And you are right, but there are times when you need it for pattern match or bow/skew problems you encounter while in the field! But is this one of those problem jobs that needs a few "tricks of the trade"? And, do you find this to be an accepted installation technique?
You Make the Call!
Now let's look a little closer at the cause, because we can see the effect. Photo 8 shows the gully; it measures out at 1/2 inch or more in some areas. Is this the correct gap for a low face weight level loop? Call CRI and get your free set of CRI 104 and 105; everyone is allowed one freebee. It does stand to reason that the thicker the face of the carpet is, the larger the gully should be to accommodate a proper tuck. Photo 9 illustrates very well that this is not the proper gully size for this carpet. Now what about the use of a unitary carpet in a double-stick installation? Is this a recommended type of installation technique for this type of backing?
In most cases, this is not always true; glue direct, yes. Hint: If you're not sure about the application, then "you make the call" to the mill and find out; our industry has been shying away from some unitaries being used in double-stick applications. But if the traffic is light, the drops are small, and the pad is rated for double-stick, you might get away with it.
. Also, it must have a premium (rated for double-stick) adhesive used for carpet to pad, and pad to subfloor should have the same, if not better. Releasable adhesive for the pad at this point is not a good idea, and will only waste money unless you go into it wet; then it's really permanent. When installing woven or stiff unitary carpet, a more permanent adhesive should be used. I will be more than happy to suggest a premium adhesive manufacturer. For some of you old timers, you will of course notice the manufacturer of the tack strip! This strip is at least 15 years old. And for the new bloods, if your strip looks like this, replace it!
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Bill Baxley has been a floor covering inspector, specializing in resilient, wood, and carpet products, for the past decade. He is certified by the Floor Covering Institute of Technical Services, and is CFI certified for residential and commercial installations.
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