Stephen Perrera, Owner Of Top Floor Installation Co. and native Tucsonan since 1955 has been in the flooring trade for over thirty-two years. He is licensed, bonded and an insured state of Arizona Flooring Contractor and detailed troubleshooter who performs moisture testing and floor failure analysis, installing a variety of floor coverings. Top
Grandiose Dreams of Mediocrity
I was originally certified by CFI back in the late 90's. I specifically remember my first cert because things were a bit crazy. I was on the end of a power circuit and my iron was not working properly. It was running cold. On top of that, someone kept coming in tearing my seam apart.
The first few guys who got certified were the ones doing the certifications. Probably # 1 through # 5 or # 10, who can remember. I was very excited that after installing for 15 years, installers would finally be recognized for their skill level. It seemed at the time that the sky was the limit.
I had started with an old timer who taught me to sew. I never felt I was an expert at it because heat tape seaming had just kicked in a year earlier. At any rate I was intent on just getting my R-I C-I or at least the R-I. Let me tell you, from what I had heard I was extremely intimidated.
I had read all the literature and I heard there was a Master Cert. Even though I had years of installation background, I hesitated to go for the Master. I wish I had. Back then it was merely doing a traveling stitch and answering a couple of questions.
Skip to today, what has it been, maybe twenty years? Even today the general consumer has never heard of a CFI certified installer. I often wonder how things would have turned out had the mills jumped in and used a small percentage of the money they spend on advertising to promote professionalism and craftsmanship needed to properly install a carpet on all these carpet commercials we see every day.
The saddest part I saw back then was that no retailer wanted to pay the extra money for a certified installer. Sure, a few small outfits ran commercials touting their extraordinary few who got certified. Even a box store joined in the fray for awhile.
Well, it's been 35 years since I started installing with my mentor, a retired master sergeant who made me sew scraps for closets almost all day. At that same time the seaming iron was taking over. Old timers shunned the new seaming technique. They saw it as a flawed system. Let me tell you, the first thermoplastic on the heat tape back then was hit or miss. It seemed every other month some company would try a different tape. Most all backings back then were jute. There were other taped systems out there which all ran their course prior to the thermo plastic. The Pin Tape is but one example. I still have a few rolls of that. That system was a combination or paper tape with a polypropylene scrim and pin you hammered down after thoroughly flooding the top of the tape with latex, thus making the first non-sewed seam. Try cutting one of those open and attaching a new carpet to it. I had a high-rise in SF when I was just doing hallways. I had to attach to all the apartment doorways back in '85. What an ordeal that was. Oh the pain.
Woven polypropylene backings presented lots of problems. The thermoplastic designed for juteback did not stick very well to the plastic backing. Lots of call backs. After a while and with many problems with seams and seam peaking issues it finally was all worked out.
Enter Michael Hetts fantastic revelation regarding the use of the newly invented glue gun to seal the seam. I was skeptical at best about this solution as I had seen so many ideas and goofy tools and techniques come and go which did nothing to really fix the problem. This worked so much better than the latex sealing. But I am rambling... back to the topic.
Fast forward a few years and all of the sudden you're out there sweating to get your R-I and there are a multitude of new backings in both commercial and residential which you are supposed to know how to seam. So now you see the how crazy it was back then with all the new inventions and new methods popping up on a seemingly monthly basis. It was hard to keep up with it all especially if you were not in a shop that did commercial and residential.
Now a days I am just happy I do not have to do carpet every day, or hardly a day a month. If a guy could make a decent wage, feed his family and send his kids to college without putting in 200 yards a day it would be grand. But grandiose ideals in this trade are only dreams. This dream I feel will never come true.
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