Inspector Bill Baxley takes a look at the ups and downs of a less-than-satisfactory carpet installation.

Six months after carpet was installed in a newly constructed nursing home, the facilities manager places a frantic call to the floor covering contractor.

“We have a big problem with the carpet,” he exclaims. “There are wrinkles everywhere! Can you come out and take a look at it?”

The commercial contractor contacts his mill representative and requests that he accompany him, along with an independent inspector, to examine the carpet in question.

Upon arrival, the contractor sees immediately that this is a BIG problem. Throughout the entire installation, wrinkles or bubbles can be seen in nearly every inch of carpet on each of the three floors where it was installed. Some 80,000 square feet of carpet is anything but “wrinkle free” (photo 1). To get a better idea of what’s going on, the contractor opens up one wrinkle/bubble 6 inches wide by 3 feet long (photo 2).

What caused the wrinkles?


Upon opening the carpet up, the contractor finds no sign of adhesive transfer to the back of the carpet, and very little adhesive residue on the concrete subfloor (photo 3). Another area of the installation, one where no wrinkles exist, is pulled back. The contractor finds the same thing: no transfer, and very little adhesive (photo 4).

The inspector begins photographing the area, the mill representative gets on his cell phone, and the contractor digs into his file to determine who in the world installed a straight row unitary with a 1/16”x ¼”x 1/16” trowel (photos 5 and 6).

I believe Michael Hetts put it best, after he heard about the problem. “This is most definitely a glue failure. Failure of the glue to get out of the pail and onto the floor.”

Do you know the proper trowel size for this type of backing? Should a low-end or high-end carpet adhesive be used? Should you set the carpet in wet, or let the adhesive flash off?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you better “make the call” to the Carpet and Rug Institute and request a copy of CR104 and CR105, or attend the next CRI-sponsored certification in your area. You’ll meet great people who care about their trade, and if you’re good enough to get certified, you’ll receive a free copy of both 104 and 105.

What’s the best way to go about it?