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11/11/2008 12:00:00 AM

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Carpet Installation Procedures: Best Practices To Follow

Compiled by FacilitiesNet Staff

Improper carpet installation can bedevil facility managers for years. Getting a carpet installation project right is the foundation for long carpet life. But getting carpet installation right means understanding some rules about carpet installation procedures.

Not following proper carpet installation procedures can diminish the facility manager's credibility, as occupants may have to disrupt work schedules to accommodate repairs.

Don't Overlook These Carpet Installation Procedures
The floor must be adequately prepared for the new covering. For instance, if old carpet is being taken up, the floor must be scraped clean of any glue. If you’re gluing to old glue, the flooring won’t stay down.

It’s also important to obtain a copy of the manufacturer’s recommended installation guidelines. If these guidelines aren’t followed, the floor covering probably won’t adhere as it should. Getting familiar with the instructions speeds corrections — and makes them less costly.

Check that the installer is planning to follow the recommendations. Many floor-covering manufacturers won’t warranty their product unless it has been properly installed using the recommended adhesive. Also check that the installer is using the right technique and is certified by the mill. Not all carpet is the same. Some products have installation variations

Check the FF, or floor flatness, level. In most cases, there should be no more than a 1/4-inch difference over a 10-foot span, experts say. Bigger variations can cause gaps where water or moisture can collect under the floor covering.

Account for all floor covering materials. While most installers are honest, some have been known to disappear with tiles and other materials. Or they may use the new floor covering to create a walking path. To avoid problems, count the boxes of material that come in and store them in a locked area.

Carpet Installation and Timing
In new construction for example, facility managers may be tempted to compress the schedule, which can lead to installers laying the carpet before the concrete is fully dry. That can cause mold and mildew problems.

Typically, a floor covering should not be installed if the moisture level exceeds three to five pounds per 1,000 square feet over a 24 hour period because moisture can impair the adhesive quality of the glue and encourage mold growth. A simple calcium chloride kit can be used to measure moisture in the air.

Another major problem, flooring contractors say, is that flooring adhesives need two to five days to set before they can be open to traffic. Walking on the floor any sooner could lead to bubbles.

Choosing The Right Carpet Installer
Hiring a cut-rate installer can consume a great deal of a facility manager's time. For instance, some installers who low-bid a job cut their own costs by skimping on the amount or quality of adhesive. That can lead to facility executives having to babysit the contractor.

Poor installation also can create safety hazards. For instance, if adhesive isn’t properly applied, the floor may buckle and cause people to trip. Or a poor installation may leave a gap in the floor covering, also posing a trip-and-fall hazard.

Asking for references is a basic but critical step, say industry experts. For instance, many carpets today boast bright, lively patterns. Matching them can be difficult but is critical to the floor’s appearance. Unless an installer has experience with other patterned carpets, he or she may have difficulty getting the pattern to line up as it should.

How can the facility manager determine whether the price an installer is quoting is reasonable? Typically, most bids will be within 10 to 15 percent of each other. Installers may swing that much just to get a particular job, experts say. A price that comes in any lower could be a sign that the contractor is using substandard materials or practices.

Finally, remember that the savings gained by skimping on the installation often account for a small fraction of the overall cost. For instance, broadloom carpeting may run $20 per yard, and the going rate for installation might be around $5 per yard. Cutting 50 cents from the installation price — a typical price reduction — shaves just 2 percent of the cost.

Sources:
With Flooring, First Step Is A Big One by Karen Kroll

Related Articles:
Cost-Effective Flooring Installation  

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Flooring Installation Projects