The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) standards—CRI 104 for commercial carpet and CRI 105 for residential carpet—are the only carpet installation standards created for and supported by the flooring industry. They provide detailed principles and guidelines for carpet installation and should be viewed as the minimum requirements for all carpet installations.

Standards Lead to Customer Satisfaction

The standards, according to the CRI, are based on reliable principles and procedures gleaned from 25 years of experience and information gathered from manufacturers, retailers, testing laboratories, carpet installers, end users and others who have specialized expertise. Both CRI 104 and CRI 105 were updated in 2015 to recognize product innovations that require new approaches to carpet installation and reflect the industry’s focus on product development, quality installations and customer satisfaction.

Evidence of Some Non-Compliance

installing tack stripDespite the many benefits in adhering to the CRI standards, and the legal and financial risks in not adhering to them, there is evidence that some retailers, architects, designers, specifiers, carpet installers and/or other decision makers are either unaware of the standards or are ignoring them. CRI 105 requires (Section 11.1) that “tack strips be a minimum of one-inch (25 mm) wide and one-fourth inch (6 mm) thick.” However, despite advising customers of the CRI standards, Fishman Flooring Solutions still sells standard 7/8” wide tack strip because some customers demand it. Importantly, much of the imported Chinese tack strip is less than one-inch wide, even though it is labeled extra wide on the box.

There are three important reasons for the CRI’s tack strip standard. First, the anchoring nails in narrow tack strip are closer to the wall, increasing the odds of damaging the baseboard with missed hammer hits. Second, the pins in narrow tack strip are closer to the wall, making anchoring the carpet to the strip more difficult, especially with stiffer carpet. Third, narrow width tack strip is not as strong as one-inch wide tack strip, increasing the odds of broken strips and the need for double stripping.

Standard for Carpet Cushion

Carpet cushion is another case in point.  CRI 105 (Section 11.2) states that, “Cushion thickness for residential carpet installations should not exceed 7/16” (11 mm).” While most of the cushion sold by Fishman meets this standard, there is still demand for one-half inch carpet cushion.

Again, there is solid reasoning behind this standard. Carpet cushion that exceeds 7/16” inch in depth raises the carpet higher than the tack strip, making it harder to stretch the carpet and hook it to the tack strip pins.

Widespread Responsibility for Adhering to Standards

The bottom line is that retailers who sell and install carpet, as well as other types of flooring, are responsible for the work. This puts a premium on being knowledgeable about and adhering to the CRI standards in order to best satisfy customers and, in today’s litigious society, insulate business and personal assets from potential lawsuits and claims.

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Equally important, however, is that architects, designers, specifiers, carpet installers and other decision makers also have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about CRI standards 104 and 105.  That is the best way to ensure that their clients and customers receive the best possible outcomes from their carpet installations.