Resilient Installation Corner: Pattern Scribing
March 22, 2010
When an installer is confronted with a difficult or complicated area, they will resort to the use of a pattern felt to make a pattern of the area and transfer the pattern to the flooring material to get an exact fit. The object is to cut the pattern felt to within ¼ inch of the outline of the room or the object to be fit; place a scribe line onto the pattern felt a specified distance, move the pattern felt onto the material and move the scribe line back onto the flooring material.
Photo 1 – Layout and establishment of reference marks
Prior to the start of placement of a felt pattern, you must layout the area to be pattern scribed by establishing a reference mark. Reference marks are generally on a seam line or along a wall or fixture. The reason for a reference line is to be able to place the material in the exact place the felt pattern was in.
Photo 2 – Positioning of the felt seams
When placing more than one width of pattern felt together, place a reference line at the seam of the two pieces of pattern felt. When the pattern felt is moved onto the material, this will ensure that the pieces of felt are placed together exactly as they were in the room.
Photo 3 – Cutting in the pattern felt
Cut the pattern felt to within ¼” of all walls and fixtures. Be sure not to cut the pattern felt too tight as it will interfere with the transfer scribing process.
Photo 4 – Anchoring the pattern felt
Cut “V” slots in the pattern felt and use masking tape to secure the felt to the substrate. This will prevent the pattern felt from shifting while working on it.
Photo 5 – Setting the dividers
Set your dividers to a specific size. I prefer mine set at ¾” but some like their dividers wider. Remember, the wider the dividers are set the greater the margin of error. Once the dividers are set, place reference marks on the pattern felt to double check your settings as needed.
Photo 6 – Scribing the pattern felt
Always start at the reference (set) mark and work your way around the pattern. It is your preference to work from left to right or vice versa. By working in a continuous path around the pattern, it will help eliminate the omitted area from being scribed. Keep the dividers at a right angle to the object being scribed. Place a scribe a mark onto the pattern felt. Allow the other leg of the dividers to ride against the object being scribed, not the leg of the divider. It does not need to be even with the wall; it can ride up slightly. When you come to a door trim or offset, use a square or straight edge to extend a line running parallel to the legs of the dividers. These lines will later be extended from the pattern felt to the material.
Photo 7 – Transcribing the pattern to the material
The piece of material to be fit into the area that was pattern scribed should have been laid out in a larger area that is smooth, clean, well-lighted and warm. This should be done prior to the scribing of the pattern felt. When selecting a work area, avoid areas of direct sunlight. Now that all of the objects in the room have been extended onto the pattern felt, it is time to carefully remove the pattern felt and place each piece on the material that is going to be used. If there is more than one piece of pattern felt, align the seams with the positioning marks and tape the pieces of pattern felt together. Position the pattern felt on the material and adjust the pattern felt to pattern alignment and balance. Once in position, anchor the pattern felt with the same tape used to anchor the pattern felt onto the floor.
Start the scribing process with the placement of the reference marks. That will indicate the exact position for the material when placed into the room. Then continue the moving of the marks from the pattern felt to the material.
Photo 8 – Cutting the material
When you complete transcribing the lines onto the material, it is time to start cutting out the material. This is done normally, clockwise around the material for right-handed people. Doing so will impart a slight undercut to the materials edge, allowing for a better fit. When completed, remove the pattern felt and the piece of material; it is ready to be installed.
Photo 9 – The final fit
Pattern scribing is the most accurate of all fitting methods. Any time an accurate fit is required, the pattern felt will deliver. Installers sometimes feel it is an added effort to get the pattern felt out of the truck, but the final fit is worth the effort. You will also find pattern felt used for other flooring installations such as stair treads and stringers, countertops, and difficult tile cuts to name a few.