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In the beginning of my career as a floor covering installer, when we received a glue-down installation from a retailer, it was a rubber-back printed pattern for a kitchen, restroom or family room.  We carried solvent-based adhesive, one trowel size and solvent-based seam sealer.  We had little or no flash time; we glued and dropped after we had patterned everything out we were working with vinyl.

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We did not consider room temperature (if we did not see our breath, it went down), relative humidity and substrate temperature.  RH, PH, metering devices, moisture tests, vapor barriers, types of secondary backings, acclimation and variance in height of the secondary backings.  These terms were not in our vocabulary.

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The thought of using our deadman and a cottonhead on the powerstretcher to align patterns did not occur to us.  We stretched our printed patterns to match by kicking or using stay nails.  If our fill piece pattern was longer than our field, we made adjustments in our cross joints.

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As you can tell from the above paragraphs, I started in the time before “training in carpet installation” was heard of much outside of the unions.  In today’s market, it is a necessity to be well trained and knowledgeable about every detail concerning your job.

Today we have many more options in training; with the internet the opportunities are endless.  There are numerous seminars and manufacturer trainings available.  CFI, since 1993, has offered certifications and trainings that have benefited tens of thousands of installers.  Time spent at any educational event will pay dividends far beyond time lost installing flooring.  The following photos will illustrate the value of education and planning.  Remember, carpet is a fabric and it is virtually impossible to manufacture a perfect piece of carpet.

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Photos 1 and 2 show that in the installer’s first two rolls, starting with a pattern count, he measured from 9’9” to 9’6-¼” throughout the entire length of two rolls.  He started with his longest 9’9” for his first breadth and subsequently, installed cuts with the following pattern measurements:  9’8”, 9’7-¼”, 9’6-¾”, and 9’6-¼”

This installer averted a major problem by taking the time to check the length of the identical number of patterns, before he installed the 9’9”, 7 pattern count to the 9’ 6-¼”, 7 pattern count.

Photos 3 and 4 show a 1-5/16” bow in the finished seam that was not corrected by during the installation.

Photos 5 and 6 illustrate installers using a Jiffy Steamer to release the carpet and correct the seam bow nine months after the initial installation.

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Photos 7 and 8 display carpet rolled back on both sides of seam.  Note the fresh floor patch; this was necessary because stay nails used by the previous installer caused several areas of “spalling;” the chipping or flaking of the concrete substrate.  It is always best to minimize the use of stay nails in a concrete floor.  This can be accomplished by using a “floating” deadman and seam clamps.

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After applying fresh adhesive, Photos 9 and 10 show the tremendous pressure placed on the carpet that was softened by steaming.  Always retract the teeth on the mini- stretchers and kickers, and use a cottonhead on the powerstretcher and deadman combination.  This allows the pressure of pattern alignment to be distributed in a method that causes less tearing than is caused by using the retractable teeth in the pattern alignment tools.

Photo 9

Photo 11 displays carpet that was torn by the initial installers because they did not retract the teeth in the knee kicker when the initial pattern alignment was attempted.

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Photo 12 displays a 1-5/16” bow straightened out on the right hand side. Note the distortion on the left side of the straightedge.  Notice the steamer going far beyond the freshly glued seam area because it was necessary to align and straighten the 1-5/16” bow across 8 or 9 feet; not just the 3’6” to 4’ of the seam we reglued.

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Direct Glue Specifics

When measuring and preparing a bid for a direct glue-down install, this is the time to prepare for the entire job.

1. You must know the:

• Carpet

• Fiber

• Dye method

• Secondary backing

• Pattern match

• Pattern elongation

• Bow and skew tolerances

• Type of adhesive required

• Trowel size required

• Acclimation time

• Manufacturer’s recommendations

2. You also must know the:

• Substrate

• Previous floor covering

• Calcium chloride or RH test

• pH test

• Slab temperature

• Porosity

• Composition

2. And know the:

• Layout

• Lighting sources

• Traffic patterns

• Seam placement

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It is very important to explain and review with your customer why you recommended the placement of seams in the areas.  Get the customer’s approval!  Involving the end user in these decisions helps give them ownership of the choices that you both made. 

Speaking of ownership, as professional installers, we should take ownership of every building in which we work.  This is our “artwork” on display.  Be proud of it!