A Carpet Installer's Notebook: Stump the Chump
August 9, 2011
Whenever I do a Crain Tool seminar for one of my distributors there are always installation tips, tricks, and techniques woven throughout the presentation. I always encourage people to bring a piece of carpet that is giving them trouble. Now bear in mind that I do not profess to know it all or like Janet says, “I’m not the sharpest cheese in the fridge.” But, over the last forty years on the floor I have learned a little more than “fuzzy side up.” So it’s always fun and the boys bring me some interesting stuff.
This particular seminar was for CDC Distributors in Louisville, KY co-sponsored by the local CFI chapter. My friend John Schofner, president of the Louisville CFI chapter, brought me an interesting piece of carpet; with I might add a big grin on his face.
It seems this particular piece of woven commercial carpet (for direct glue) has an overstitch and you can not follow a row (Photo 1) without cutting loops that overlap the row you are cutting (Photos 2 and 3). The problem of course then is woven carpet fuzzing like crazy at the seam.
John had called the mill and also spoken to installation experts about how to seam this product without it looking like a horror show. The best advice he got was face cut with a straight edge or double cut. Use a “universal acrylic seam sealer,” because they dry clear. Seal the edge not just at the cut edge, but up into the nap to lock the edge. He really didn’t like that idea, but the job had to get done and the mill said so.
When faced with situations like this I try all kinds of ways of cutting the seams. If I can’t run a row from the face, usually you can cut between rows from the back with a hook knife (Photo 1). Not this time.
The next thing to do is start taking the carpet apart to see what you are dealing with. (Photo 4) Use a scrap not the main shots you have to seam together; no sense committing yourself to a course of action until you are sure it will work. School of hard knocks; I’ve been there, and it hurts to fail a lesson.
Once you strip some of the rows back you can see what you are dealing with (Photo 5). The spaced loops that are sitting on top have no locking chains. That is the white threads you can see at the base of the solid row. Those threads wrap around the weft yards (the ones sticking out) and lock the weave in place. Without those locking chains the carpet has no stability and will fall apart easily (Photo 6) and the seam edge will fray (Photo 7).
Ok so there is the problem how to stabilize the seam edge so it doesn’t fray when you cut off the exposed weft yards. Run a bead of seam sealer down the edge on the back of the carpet. (Photo 8)
CAREFULLY push the seam sealer into the edge (Photo 9). LET THE SEAM SEALER DRY. This will lock in the edge; now you can carefully use your cushion back cutter to cut off the weft yarns. (Photo 10).
Cut the other seam edge the same way. I would seal both edges again just to be sure, then seam weld when it is glued down. Belt and suspenders, remember? Also bear in mind this weave has a “Big Loop/Little Loop” pattern. (Photo 11) The finished seam is shown in Photo 12.
I know, I know, “Holy Crap Hetts that is a lot of work and time, seal it twice then seal/weld when gluing it down! You have been out on the deck already?” Yes, it is time consuming; you know I would never tell you to go to these lengths for free. This is just what this piece of carpet needs to be seamed properly. So when would you like to know how to seam this piece of material? Before the job starts, or when it’s done and everyone is looking at you?