Every so often, there is a proliferation of complaints which deal with the same issue . Lately-- and not just recently--the problem has been carpet coming loose from the floor; so much so, we can say it has reached epidemic proportions.
The culprit is a bit more complicated, however, than what one may think. Carpet is a product which is sorely misunderstood, often by the people who should know the most about it-- the manufacturer, dealer and installer. The longer I’m in the business, the more I’m convinced that the carpet is controlling things more than the people who should be controlling it.
What does that mean? The carpet, as well as the peripheral issues, are being misunderstood, so we can’t simplistically say a lack of adhesive is to blame. There is more tufted pattern carpet today than ever, and this will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Much of this broadloom, if not all of it, derives its pattern from the needle shifting on the tufting machine.
This shifting varies the yarn direction, tension, height and the overall thickness because the yarns are crossing over one another in the back. This creates a product which responds completely different from a straight row stitched carpet. Much of the patterned carpet being installed is glued directly to a substrate, which is most often concrete.
It is imperative to allow this type of product to acclimate in the location in which it is to be installed. If not, once it does acclimates, it will search for the point where it is relaxed. This may well create buckles and wrinkles.
If it is glued direct, two things will happen in a relatively short period of time: The seams will open --maybe while the installers are still there--and the carpet is going to inevitably come loose from the floor. In almost all cases where the seams open up and the carpet comes off the floor, two things haven’t been done: The seams either have not been sealed, or have been done incorrectly, and there is barely enough adhesive on the floor to say it was used at all.
In the last two cases we’ve had, the back of the carpet was so clean it could have been installed someplace else for new broadloom. Further, the wrong size trowel was used, the spread rate was thinner than the hair on the late Yul Brynners' head and, because of it’s quality, the adhesive would not have held a much lesser carpet down for an extended period of time.
The irony of this type of a situation is, you’ll be told that the installer did everything by the book, what book. What book is unknown. Next, the argument may be the substrate is to blame. That may have been a factor in certain cases, but, most often, we find the problem is simply not enough adhesive was used.
One of the first questions we ask is how much was the installer paid and did he have to buy his own materials. If he was paid $2 to $3 per yard and had to buy his own adhesive, you have solved most of the problem. He did not get enough money for his labor and he could not afford to use enough adhesive which would spread at five to eight yards per gallon and hold the carpet firmly in place.
A poor quality adhesive with a high water content will migrate into the concrete and activate alkaline salts. The alkalinity inherent in concrete will migrate up and destroy the tackfier in the adhesive. Amply applied, a high quality adhesive would not cause this problem.
The epidemic, therefore, is the fact that not enough high quality adhesive is being applied during installation and it is not transferring adequately and properly to the floor . This is so pervasive that it’s becoming disgusting to see the same problem time and again.
Who is to blame for this? Whoever beat the installer up for the low price and didn’t insist on a high quality installation and what that involves. You don’t get quality cheap, and you can’t expect that just because you go through the motions you didn’t do anything wrong. You all had better start doing something about this. When you start controlling your own destiny, you’ll start having fewer complaints and you’ll make more money. Until you do, you should be ashamed of yourselves for letting things like this happen.