In June, I had the privilege of speaking at the one-week session of the Advanced Flooring Specialist School for Commercial Carpet
Inspectors in Dalton, Ga. Inspectors from all over the country were signed up for the school, which covered the following subjects: Commercial Carpet Tiles; Maintenance Related Commercial Claims; Commercial Installations; Commercial Adhesive Installations; and Commercial Carpet Defects, as well as visits to mills and sessions on laminates.
The inspectors in attendance were there at their own expense, looking to increase their knowledge and their ability to do a better job when inspecting complaints.
I have continued to think about the school, and have wondered why someone in the industry, the CRI or the mills doesn’t hold schools like this for carpet installers so they can update their installation knowledge and skills. I know that some of the mills have schools that provide information on their products and how to install them, and that the CFI has certification schools, but I am talking about schools that will update installers on the changes have taken place in the industry in the time since they attended apprentice courses, or since they first learned how to install carpet as a helper at their father’s, uncle’s or friend’s side.
During my presentation that day in June, I discussed the principles of bonding and why adhesive installations fail (see FCI June/July 2001, pg. 22). I also discussed the ASTM adhesive performance standard that the FCAMC is working on that will provide test procedures to determine if an adhesive meets the requirements for adhesion, cohesion, tensile strength, peal strength, cleavage, freeze-thaw stability and other factors that a floor covering adhesive must meet in order to be designated as “premium.”
Some other topics of discussion included the importance of using the correct trowel-notch size for the backing of the carpet being installed, the problems associated with using partial pails of adhesive on a job, and the use of clear thin-spread instead of vinyl adhesive on vinyl tile installations. An inspector will look at these and other factors, and by determining if the installer paid proper attention to them or not, he can uncover whether the failure was caused by the installer or the product.
During the time that I was responsible for reviewing floor covering adhesive, patch and underlayment complaints at Durabond, I found that the majority of the complaints involving the installation were the result of the installer not taking factors such as temperature, humidity, the substrate and the carpet backing into account before starting the job. In other instances, the building temperature had not been brought up to the level requested by the installer, the elevator designated to transport materials was being used by another contractor, the floor was covered in plaster from the dry wall contractor or another contractor was already working in the same area where the floor covering was to be installed.
It happens all the time, and the only way I know how to minimize problems is to visit the jobsite the day before the job is scheduled to be sure that you can begin the project you are contracted to do.