The Art of Installing Patterned Carpet, Part Two
August 8, 2011
Prior to cutting of the material, make sure you have inspected the material for any pattern deviations as covered in Part 1 of “The Art of Installing Patterned Carpet” (FCI, Jan-Feb. ‘11) and have communicated any issues to the provider of the material. Arrange cuts / rolls as to accommodate any elongation issues. Be sure that if you have to resort to going with pattern sequence and jumping out of roll sequence, once again document and communicate this to the provider of the material prior to starting the installation.
Now that we have properly identified just exactly what we have to work with, let’s get started. The following items are simply a few extra tools that are generally required to perform the installation of patterned carpet. Along with all of your other basic tools needed to install glue direct carpet, you will also want to have a power stretcher, (with locking mechanism if possible), a dead man, mini stretcher/crab stretcher, dry line or laser, carpenters square, straight edge, hammer and nails, some commercial tackstrip and of course a lot of patience. Again this is only a basic list. You still may need several other items that may pertain to your individual project.
Installation of a commercial project, glued direct on a concrete substrate
At this point let’s assume your material is cut, seams have been trimmed and material is laid out ready to install. In most cases when pattern deviation is not too severe, the material is treated very much like any standard non-patterned glue direct installation. Once the pattern has been properly aligned, the material is folded back on both sheets approximately 6 feet across the width. This is best performed in a three-part motion on each sheet. First dog-ear the corners and then fold back the center. You may want to first drive several stay nails on the backside of each sheet. This will keep the material from moving around on you during the folding back process, especially with larger breadths of material.
Once adhesive is spread and proper open time has been given, lay your first sheet down into the adhesive center first and then the ends. Rub/roll all bubbles working from the center out to the edges. At this point you will apply the seam sealer along the cut edge of the material. Pay close attention that you are actually getting the adhesive on the cut edge and not just on the floor. Remember, the purpose of the sealer is to “seal” the edges of the material to help prevent the edges from raveling and not just to add a little extra adhesive to the floor. Improperly sealed seams are just as bad as not sealing at all.
Now lay your second sheet in place. Starting in the center of the seam, work your pattern in line from the middle to the ends. Keep in mind that any elongation must be corrected all the way across the entire breath and not just at the seam area. If not you may have corrected the elongation but now have created a bow. In most cases neither are acceptable to the end user. At this point simply roll the material with the proper roller, trim it up and your home free. WOW, if only they were all that easy.
The procedures mentioned above are assuming that the material has very little deviation and can be performed with what I would consider “Standard Installation Methods for Patterned Carpet.”
Now let’s assume we receive the material and it has a 1-inch bow, ¾ of an inch of elongation every 12 feet and even a slight skew. All well within those dirty words; “The Manufacturers Tolerance.” The breadths in this room are 65’ long, the area is over 100 feet wide and the architect has never heard of or been educated as to what “manufacturing tolerances” even are and expects it to look like the sample they picked out. Is this starting to sound familiar? At this point you can pretty much throw the standard procedures above out the window. This installation will now go far above and beyond “Standard Installation for patterned Carpet.” At this point your responsibility is to properly check the material, photograph the procedure you used to determine the amount of deviation and turn this information over to the provider of the material. The provider (in most cases this is the retailer or dealer) should then be contacting the manufacturer. All three parties should be involved at this point to determine the course of action. The material in the pictures had a bow of 2 1/2 inches (Photos 1A and 1B), was skewed and had elongation of over 1 1/2 inches in 12 feet. This is NOT recommended for the weak at heart.
Once the material has been laid out, patterns have been centered in the area and the seams have been trimmed and matched in the middle of each breath. Take two breadths (more depending on your experience and manpower) and roll the breadths back up just past the center point in the room. (Photo 2) Spread a band of adhesive approximately 3 feet wide along the center line next to the breaths of carpet. Stop the adhesive about 3 inches from the outer edge of each sheet. At this point you should have a band of adhesive approximately 3 feet wide and just under 24 feet long going along the width of the 2 breadths. Just how wide you should spread this band of adhesive will depend greatly on the amount of correction that is needed. (Less correction the wider the band, more correction the narrower the band) This will keep you from getting yourself in over your head. Once adhesive is spread roll the two breadths of material into and just past the adhesive line. NOTE: Open time is critical for most adhesives. However, depending on the amount of correction needed you may have to push the envelope a little on the open time to allow slippage in the adhesive in order to make the necessary corrections. Drive a concrete pin into the concrete on each side of the two breadths and exactly in the center of the room.
Pull a dry line or shoot a laser across the top of the material along the center line from these two nails. Using your crap stretchers, knee kickers, and a bit of sweat, align the pattern of the two breadths perfectly along the dry line. As the pattern is aligned take some architectural tack strip and after pulling the drive nails, turn it upside down and fasten it to the top of the material using 1-inch concrete nails to the concrete substrate. Use of the tackstrip helps you hold the pattern alignment in place using far less nails. It also gives you a better base to nail in to so that nails are not deflecting when driving them and causing severe injury. (Photo 3) Make sure that the material is perfectly lined up along the dry line across both breadths. Once this task is complete you are ready to move on down the breadth. Roll the 2 breadths back just enough to expose the edge of the adhesive. You are now ready to repeat the process for another 3 to 4 feet. Spread your band of adhesive, roll material into the adhesive, set your dry line and correct the pattern alignment. You will find that once the pattern has been aligned on the first initial correction, the following alignments are a bit easier. In most cases you would now use your power stretcher and dead-man and be stretching away from the center line. (Photo 4) Be sure to measure off of your original center line when placing your dry line/drive nails for the next alignment. This will ensure that the pattern stays perfectly aligned across the entire room and when you reach the wall the pattern should also be perfectly parallel with the wall. Note: When fastening the tackstrip to the floor, with the exception of the first original row of tackstrip, make sure that the pins are angled in the direction you are taking the stretch. This insures that the material will not move back once it has been aligned. Once you have reached the wall on one side now go back to the center and repeat these steps to the other wall.
At this point you should have two breadths perfectly installed wall to wall in the length and all pattern deviation corrected. (Photo 5)
When adjoining the adjacent breadths use the same procedure with the exception that you will now have to spread the adhesive just up under the adjoining previously installed material. As always, be sure that all seams are properly sealed.
In closing, I will mention that I have personally used these techniques to correct deviated materials all over this country as well as others. While I do not wish it upon anyone, I will say that I have used them to correct deviations as much as 4 inches of bow, 5 inches of skew and elongations as severe as 7 inches in 15 feet. Obviously, all materials are different and you will not be able to achieve those types of results all the time. I will also say that the time and labor involved in doing so was extreme and suddenly had nothing to do whatsoever with a per-yard price. This type of work is far above and beyond what I would consider “Standard Installation for Patterned Carpets.”
For those that are looking for a great class on just how to learn and better understand the installation of patterned carpets, I recommend a class taught by the Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI). Keep your eye out for Part III of “The Art of Installing Patterned Carpets,” where we can cover some tips when installing woven carpets and others conventionally over cushion. Thanks for reading and good luck.