A Carpet Installer's Notebook: The Importance of Being Sealed
May 27, 2008
I asked Jon what I should title this article. He said, “Seal all your %$#@* seams all the *&^@#$ time.” I told him I thought it was a good title, but I didn’t think my editor John Moore would print it.
If you are not sealing all your seams all the time, it’s time to start. There are really no excuse boys. It’s not the mills fault if the seam ravels or de-laminates -- it’s yours for not sealing it. I mean think about it, you are cutting into the body of the carpet with knives of varying degrees of sharpness leaving a raw edge. If it were woven material sealing the edge, then there would be no question. Tufted goods do not easily fray as woven, but the same principle applies. If you don’t seal that edge, you leave it exposed to wear because the seam tape is only attached to the backing, not the cut edge. It’s not unlike making cut-offs from an old pair of jeans. If you don’t hem or seal the cut edge, then they will fray.
Blah, blah, blah. I know, you have heard this before so why should you listen now? Well, I am going to show you how to fix your screw-up when you don’t seal your seams to begin with.
It was my column in the last issue of FCI (titled “Rumble With the Jungle”) where I shared with you a job Jon and I did with a face-to-face Wilton in a media room (with a nice explanation of seam-sealing how-to, if I don’t say so myself). Downstairs, the lady was unhappy with the seams of her cut-and-loop that were fraying and asked if I knew of a solution. The installer had been back twice over the last year and steamed the seams but, the problem continued.
It was my perception that the seams were either poorly or not sealed at all. The installer did a nice job of installing a difficult 6-ft. by 6-ft. pattern (Photo 1). The pattern was straight, the seams looked good, except for the raveling problem. So what to do to fix it?
First thing needed is a mini-stretcher with the “seam repair attachment” (Photo 2) to force the seam open. Then, a row separator to open the seam more. (Photo 3-Crain 365), (Photo 4-Carder 107)
At this point, there are a couple of ways to attack the sealing. One is using latex, for which you will need to make a needle applicator. Inflater needles for basketballs are threaded both on the outside and the inside so you can thread one onto a seam sealer bottle. But, they need to be adjusted a bit as the holes at the end are on the sides, so the tip has to be cut off so the glue comes out the end. (Photo 5 and 6)
Then the latex can be applied, carefully being the buzzword, to the base of the opened seam. (Photo 7)
Those who know me and read this column are aware of my use of hot glue guns. In this case, it is my adhesion choice to once again use a hot glue gun. Why? Primarily for the speed of the adhesive setting. The extension tip must be adjusted to our needs of a small controlled amount of applied adhesive. (Photo 8)
Inserting a sewing needle into the tip to hold an opening and squeezing the remainder closed with pliers creates a small opening for adhesive delivery. (Photo 9 and 10)
Then using the wire wheel on my grinder I buffed off the burrs from the pliers so the pinched closed portion of the tip will glide through the parted seam like a row separator and not snag on the yarns (Photos 11 and 12).
Pulling the gun toward me, the pinched portion of the tip glides through the opened seam allowing me to apply a small amount of hot glue at the seam edge and the base of the yarns (Photo 13).
Once the seam is pressed down the glue will grab almost immediately, sealing the seam edge and locking the base of the yarns together (Photo 14). Remember, a small amount is key; you don’t want to create another problem with too much glue. So practice a bit to get the feel of how much trigger pressure relates to how much glue flows out of the gun; they are all different.
I know you are thinking, “Good grief, that is a lot of time and effort!” Well, yes it is and it all could have been avoided if the installer had as Jon said, “Seal all your %$#@* seams all the *&^@#$ time!”