Commercial carpet is much like today’s couture. Take a fine men’s suit, for example. Freshly pressed and steamed, a suit gives its wearer an air of sophistication. On the other hand, wrinkled and worn, the same suit would likely give off the impression of sloppiness. Working in the carpet industry, I do not claim to be a fashion guru, but I do know that when you’re dealing with any product – whether it’s a suit or a carpet – it won’t perform to its full potential unless it is laid out correctly.
Proper installation is the key to maintaining the integrity and quality of a commercial carpet. By following a few simple but crucial tips, specifiers and installers can contribute to creating impeccably designed spaces that will serve their facilities and end-users well into the future.
Accessorizing Can Make the Carpet
The difference between carpeting success and faux pas is decision-making. When beginning a new project, certain questions must be considered: what are the expectations? Where will it be installed? These responses play a critical role in choosing the best color, pattern and backing system.
Colors and Patterns
Colors and patterns are more than just aesthetic accessories, they are also performance features. For example, high-traffic open office areas are served well with multi-colored carpeting, which can hide those inevitable stains that can’t always be treated right away. In settings such as schools with large windows where the threat of stains and fading from sunlight run high, additional technology options should be considered. Look for manufacturers that offer protectants incorporated into the fiber of the carpet during the manufacturing process to permanently protect against these nuisances.
Choosing the appropriate backing system for the intended space is critical to providing long-term, high performance. Carpeting in high-traffic or wheeled areas like hallways should have a backing that offers lifetime performance warranties covering edge ravel, delamination and tuft-bind loss. Moisture-prone areas such as foyers, cafeterias, or healthcare interiors, require backings that ensure tuft bind integrity and delamination protection even in wet conditions.
Measurement Makes for Successful Installation
Planning goes a long way toward making the most of any installation. Specifiers and installers should assess and test the areas where the carpet will be laid to ensure a perfect project every time.
Seams and Moisture
Seams can be an area of concern, particularly with patterned broadloom carpet where patterns need to be matched at the seams. Many recommend developing a seam drawing to ensure the best results. To minimize potential installation problems, installers should review manufacturer specifications. Wherever moisture is a factor, pH and moisture tests should be performed at least 72 hours before installation. This will show if the subfloor is suitable for the installation or if sealers are necessary to ensure a proper installation.
Wasteful glue buckets, messy transfer papers, inefficient downtime and costly procedures can create a sticky situation with traditional carpet adhesives. Fortunately, there are several new technologies worth investigating that can make installation a breeze – from pre-applied adhesives to ones that enable carpet to be installed directly over existing flooring.
Eliminating the need for heavy buckets and associated shipping costs, installers can even skip the step of applying adhesive altogether by choosing a carpet tile that features a pre-applied adhesive. Since the adhesive is part of the carpet construction and applied during manufacturing, off-gassing and waste is eliminated as these tiles can be picked up and put down repeatedly without losing adhesion.
Knowing the Market Can Improve Results
The carpet color may have already been selected, but today “green” is the industry hue of choice. Manufacturers are meeting the call for more eco-friendly design solutions with PVC-free carpet tiles that are 100 percent recyclable, feature increased recycled content and require less virgin raw materials to produce. It is important to note that the difference in polymers between traditional PVC and new generation non-PVC tiles require different installation techniques. Installers must adhere to the following methods:
Follow manufacturer instructions: Installation techniques including the use of related products should be recommended by the manufacturer of the carpet being installed. If a manufacturer calls to use its own adhesive this is not a marketing ploy. To ensure a proper installation always use the manufacturers recommended adhesive.
Place cut-ins and fill pieces into position: Since PVC tiles contain plasticizers, they are more susceptible to contraction. To accommodate the contraction, installers historically cut full and either push or situate the tiles tightly into position, realizing they will compress and eventually settle into place. Non-PVC tiles do not contract at all! Its EVA polymers do not incorporate plasticizers, making it essential for PVC-free tiles to be placed into position in a natural grid to ensure seam integrity. The cut-ins should not be cut full nor should the fill carpet tiles be forced into position.
Place and press the carpet tiles into position: As the tiles are placed into position, installers should start with the lower tile corner and press the tile into place in an upward motion with the palm of their hand. The entire tile should be pressed with the installers’ palm one corner at a time.
Measure and assess the installation. To ensure that tiles are placed into the correct position and not compressed, installers should measure tiles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You do not want tiles to be too tight as this could cause an installation’s failure.
Maintenance is the Key to Everlasting Style
Once the carpet is installed, there are a few last minute words of wisdom to keep the carpet looking great. You should plan a maintenance program, which includes frequent vacuuming in high traffic areas, routine vacuuming in lower traffic areas, and spot cleaning when necessary. It is also a good idea to perform a deep cleaning hot water extraction approximately twice a year. These simple preventive guidelines will help ensure a long-lasting and trouble-free carpet installation that will endure for years to come.