The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recently announced updates to its 104/105 installation standards for commercial and residential carpet, respectively. We spoke with Joe Yarbrough, CRI president, and Jim Walker, president of American Floor Covering Institute, about what these changes mean to the carpet installer.

In announcing updates to 104/105, CRI stated “these changes address industry innovations that require new approaches to carpet installation, particularly planning and subfloor preparation.” A lot of people believe substrate prep for carpet is relatively forgiving compared to hard surface products. Can you tell me a little more about this focus for the updates?

Yarbrough: Carpet has more tolerance for surface imperfections in terms of substrate cracks, but new technologies with backings and adhesives make subfloor prep important. The moisture content in a concrete floor still must meet certain specifications with carpet. The array of products in both the residential and commercial sectors have expanded quite dramatically in the last 10 years or so, and there are varying degrees of requirements necessary to successfully install these products.

How often do you update these standards?

Yarbrough: The last time was 2011. Here it is, almost 2016, so we decided it was time to have an update to make sure the information is the most current. We wanted to make it easy to read and readily available. We will still be offering printed copies of the documents, but they can also be downloaded from our website to be viewed on a cell phone, tablet or other mobile device.

Our plan is to eventually be able to include short video clips that address some of the more tricky procedures. These will be references that provide a refresher very quickly. These enhancements will be provided over time, and as they become available we will provide further notice.

In electronic form this becomes a living document that we can refresh on an ongoing basis to make it more user-friendly and more helpful. Our end goal is to provide residential consumers and commercial customers a satisfactory experience for selecting carpet as their flooring choice.

What’s the process for coming to a consensus on these updates?

Yarbrough: We reach out to experts across the industry. We develop a core task group within CRI membership, reaching out to carpet manufacturing members, retailers, installers, customers who are repetitive consumers of carpet, and testing laboratories that have experience about the most acceptable best practices. We draw upon the practical and technical experience of these people. We aim to make the information succinct but valuable.

Is there a specific reason why the updates are happening now?

Yarbrough: I think it’s just time. We’ve had a version of these standards in place since the mid-‘90s, and they’re updated every five or six years. During our last update, in 2011, we combined the commercial and residential portions into one document standard. But by reaching out to a wide array of interested parties, we felt the market was best served by providing the information in two formats because of the specific differences between the two markets. So we broke them back apart again with this update.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the S600 standard for carpet installation. Why should carpet installers use CRI 104/105 as the installation standard of choice?

Walker: When I resigned from International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), Joe asked me if I would take a look at the CRI update. I went over it and my opinion is CRI is on the right track. In the ‘90s, the CRI standards are all we had, and they’ve kept everything up to date.

Regarding S600, what I’ve heard is at the moment some of the mills are appealing it, and my understanding is for it to become an ANSI standard everyone has to agree on it. I don’t know if S600 [in a final, usable form] is ever going to materialize or not.

Simply put, CRI 104/105 gives installers a roadmap for installing carpet. With all the new tools, adhesives and techniques in carpet, standards are going to have to be updated a lot more frequently than in the past, and CRI 104/105 has the ability to do that now with its electronic format.

What are the biggest problems carpet installers are seeing on the job?

Walker: The number one problem is seaming and stretching—just getting the guys to use seam sealer and properly stretch the carpet. Seam peaking is another issue, and getting transitions right is also a big problem. That’s what I like about CRI 104/105. We can address these issues with updates and videos. The ultimate goal is customer satisfaction. I will work with anybody who has a goal like that.

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