Carpet, in all its various forms and sizes is supposed to lay flat. At no time should it be curling up on the edges or in the corners to the extent that it pulls itself off the floor. However, before you try to lump any problem you’ve ever had, or may be having now, into this category let’s qualify what we mean when we speak of curling carpet.
Curling carpet is not the result of the carpet being improperly installed and curling up at the edges or in locations where it should be securely fastened down such as at edge moldings, doorways, entrance or exit areas or at seams where they are coming apart or delaminating causing the carpet to roll back or curl. These are primarily installation procedure or technique related or installation specification related. That is, someone didn’t do something they should have done to secure the carpet at an edge allowing it to come loose and curl up. Or, someone did not correctly specify a finished edge so the carpet worked loose and curled up on the edge. This type of curling results in the carpet not only curling up at the loose edge, but it will also roll back slightly, especially if it has delaminated, and it will also fray and come apart at this loose edge.
The type of curling this column refers to occurs mostly in broadloom carpet or carpet tiles with a specialty type backing such as unitary, vinyl or high density urethane backings or similar type backings. Also, we are not talking here about carpet that shrinks in at the edge, I’ve written a lot about that subject in the past. Let’s look at some examples so you’ll understand what we mean.
A carpet tile job, installed with a full spread releasable adhesive starts to show the definition of the tiles all over. When the dealer examines the job he notes that the vinyl backed carpet tiles are lifting at the edges and on the corners. He first thinks that this may be an installation problem. The manufacturer looks at the job and thinks the same thing; not a manufacturing defect, most likely installation or an adhesive failure.
The adhesive people now look at the job and say that the adhesive is performing an exemplary job. Everything is tested, or it’s said that it is, and comes back with no defects being detected anywhere. But, the problem still exists so who is responsible? When we look at the job we, obviously, see what everyone else has seen. However, remember what I always say, the carpet never lies, it will always tell you what’s wrong if you know how to interpret what it’s saying. In this case the adhesive is as sticky as could be. It is certainly strong enough to hold any carpet tile placed into it down and flat. The tiles themselves are pulling up at the edges and particularly at the corners. Nothing in installation will cause this. After all, you take the tiles out of the box and place them on the floor, just about as simple as that.
In this case when you push the tile down at the edge it sticks back to the adhesive for a moment but then slowly starts to rise back up again, like a snake being charmed. This, my friends, is not normal, carpet tiles are supposed to lay flat. In this tile there is an inherent dimensional instability. If you take an installed curling tile from the job, and one out of the box, and place them on a flat surface you will most likely, after letting them relax an acclimate, see them lift at the edges. This being the case, the tile is defective, unarguably and that’s the simple explanation without getting into more technicalities here.
Broadloom carpet with a specialty type back is also supposed to lay flat on the edges. If it’s a high density urethane back for example, and it curls up on the edges where you’re trying to seam it, this means there is an inherent instability built into the finishing aspect of the product. That is, it won’t lay flat at the edges.
Though this may be a problem with the product when it is being installed, it is a lot easier to fix than a carpet tile. Rather than go into a panic you have to first understand the product. If the installers have never worked with this type of carpet before, regardless of the backing, or had limited experience with the product, they may throw their arms up in disgust. But you have to remember, if you can get the middle of the carpet to stick down then you should be able to get the edges to stick down as well. It takes a little more tenacity in the adhesive that’s all.
Several years ago, one of the big three manufacturers had a pretty pervasive problem like this with their high density backed products. The solution was to use a contact type adhesive at the seams. It worked, it didn’t take much more time for the installers to implement and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg in extra labor. This is the same way you can work with any specialty backed broadloom product in the market, for the most part, when you have a curling edge condition. Most of the time this will work unless there’s some other influential conditions.
When you work with these products and you experience curling, stop the job, make a phone call to the manufacturer and get the resolution to the situation. If the manufacturer can’t help you, call me, we’ll get you an answer.