Rick Shaver, owner of Shavers Shag & Vinyl in Dauphin, Pa., has known the Livelsbergers for years. Glenn Livelsberger was the founder of Heritage Builders, a luxury home builder in Harrisburg, who had retired in 2012. He and his wife, Andrea, were looking to improve on a carpet installation that Shaver had completed about 10 years before. He was excited to take on the challenge.

“I had worked with Glenn for many years, and he had a lot of confidence in my ability. I had put a fancy border around his pool table about 10 years ago, but the quality of carpeting wasn’t the best,” Shaver explained. “This time it’s all Fabrica and Kane, with Shaw closed-cell pad—all high-end materials.”

While the border was already going to be challenging to install, Livelsberger was adamant about a new feature to the design. As an avid hunter, he was dead-set on including a lion at the base of the border. Fortunately for Shaver, Livelsberger had a stuffed lion upstairs in his game room. “I was able to go upstairs and look at the lion, to see how the mane flows down and the different colors in it. It was quite informative.”

Before Shaver could even begin the 150-yard installation, he was faced with another issue. “I noticed immediately when we pulled the old carpet up that moisture was coming out of the slab and rotting the tack strip. So we moisture-sealed the subfloor before putting the carpeting in.”

That wasn’t the end of the prep work, either. Shaver poured about 400 lbs. of self-leveling underlayment to get Livelsberger’s living room flush with his bedroom, and ramps had to be added in multiple areas where ceramic tile sat next to the carpeting and where the carpeting met up with the fireplace. 

Installing the border and the lion pattern

“This project required multiple skill sets in order to have a successful job,” Shaver noted, including “beveling, carving, stretching and seaming.” Tools used included electric and pneumatic carvers, a beveler, hot knives and several sizes of glue guns.

He began with a small design of the lion from a piece of wallpaper approximately 2 in. tall, blew that up and sharpened the edges, then created the crest, printed it out and projected it on the wall. “I made approximately a 3 by 4 ft. lion with the crest around it. Then I took out my drafting tools, created the pieces I would need and printed out multiple copies of the design.”

From that template, he cut the pieces out of the carpet through a process of beveling and carving, then assembled those pieces into the finished pattern, which he glued together before putting it into the carpet field. “It’s not a quick project; I spent many weeks on that lion. For the whole project, I would say it probably took about three months,” Shaver said. “You become really close friends with your customers on a job like this.”

Another challenge also presented itself during the installation. Livelsberger wanted the border Shaver had constructed to be equidistant from the legs of the pool table. “I had to calculate the stretch to make the border end up in the right place,” Shaver noted. “It was tricky. It took a lot of calculating.”

Shaver, who started in the flooring business in 1984 as a carpet layer and built his experience with both residential and commercial projects before setting out on his own, said he was lucky that the Livelsbergers wanted him to take his time and make sure everything was perfect. “Attention to detail from your customers is critical on a project like this. Andrea used her design skills to help pick out the carpets and colors.”

Shaver loves that his job requires different skills from day to day. “Some days I’m binding. Some days I’m tearing out. Some days I’m grinding concrete floors. I encourage all installers to diversify their skills. Get all the training you possibly can. Invest in yourself—it makes you more valuable.”

As for the Livelsbergers? They love their new carpet. “Glenn’s golfing buddies saw it and they loved it, too. They all wanted one for their house,” Shaver said. “It makes quite a statement in the home.”