Seam Sealing Commercial Carpet: If You’re Not Doing It, Start!
Seam sealing, it seems, is a topic we always come back around to addressing—not only in our articles, but from a monetary point when it comes to claims. There is a tremendous amount of money spent by manufacturers for inspections that are due to installation-related issues, not to mention the retailers and workrooms who must deal with an angry end-user due to frayed seams. Many times they are left with no choice but to completely replace the carpet or pay to repair it in order to maintain their integrity with the client.
Then, there is the installer (Photo 1).
The installer is the one ultimately in control of the outcome of the installation, whether it’s a success or a failure. The installer is directly affected monetarily as well if they end up having to pay for the installation due to an installation-related issue (Photo 2).
So if sealing seams is such a no-brainer, why doesn’t every single installer seal their seams? I’ve been trying to figure that one out for years and just don’t understand. That’s why I keep writing about it.
Every installer uses a tape measure and a hammer, right? These are tools needed in order to do the job. Well, seam sealing should be thought of as one of the tools needed to complete the installation of carpet. Whether it’s a stretch-in or glue direct, seam sealing is that important for the performance of the carpet. By not sealing seams, the one who ultimately loses is the end-user who paid for a “professional” installation.
As professionals, it’s our obligation to the industry and our end-users to make sure we have the proper skills for an acceptable installation. Seam sealing is not a skill or technique that takes years to master; nor is the seam sealer itself expensive. There are even seam sealing tips designed to make it easier for the installer to apply sealer to the edges of carpet.
One of the tips that have been around for as long as I can remember—I started with this type of tip in 1976—is a simple notched plastic tip that fits on the end of a bottle (Photo 3). This tip design is used for hot-melt seams and we also use it for glue-down applications as well.
For glue down applications, our company utilizes a double seam-sealing technique. Once we cut the carpet to be seamed and the carpet breadths are laid out, we seal the edges with seam sealer. Carpet is then folded back, adhesive is spread on the subfloor, then the first breadth is placed into the adhesive.
We then apply an 1/8” bead of seam sealer, usually an acrylic seam adhesive for glue-direct, unless the manufacturer requires a specific product (Photo 4). We then place the next breadth into the adhesive and start putting the seam together. What this does is ensure the edges of the carpet are completely sealed.
Another seam sealing system we like to use is a seam sealer bottle that seals both edges at the same time (Photo 5). (The bottle pictured is from Beno J. Gundlach.) The two breadths of carpet are folded back, adhesive is spread, and the two breadths are laid into the adhesive. The red seam sealer tip is placed in between the two edges to be sealed, and the installer gently squeezes the bottle and allows seam sealer to flow out the two side channels in the tip. Pull the tip a couple of feet and follow by putting the seam together. The company also has a black tip designed for backings with an attached cushion.
So for those installers who don’t seal all their seams, I can’t stress how much of an impact you can make if you just start doing it. For those installers who are sealing their seams, thanks for being a professional and making our industry proud!