Solutions for Installation Challenges: Flooring Forensics:
By Lew Migliore
I’ve received a number of questions lately related to flooring concerns and issues in residential applications. Regardless of whether you’re installing a type of floorcovering that you’ve worked with 100 times or one that’s new to you, the key is to make sure you know the product you’re dealing with, the environment in which it is to be installed and how to install it, which includes using the correct adhesives, installation techniques and tools, and, above all, following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Whether you agree with them or not, if you have a problem and you didn’t do what the manufacturer told you to, you’re going to have an uphill battle resolving the issue.
One of the most frequent causes of carpet claims is fraying or delaminating seams, particularly on direct glue-down carpet. All carpet seams—direct glue-down or not, cut or loop pile—must be sealed on the edges, and seam sealer must be applied properly. If not, the result will be fraying or fuzzing of the seams on direct glue-down loop pile carpet or delamination, which is when the secondary backing comes off carpet stretched over pad.
If the carpet is loop pile and the needle bar shifts during tufting, it is easy to nick or cut a loop. In this case, if the edges are not sealed, fraying will result, and zippers—rows of pulled tufts—will occur at the seams. This is almost always an installation problem. You can avoid seam issues on direct glue-down carpet by using a Gundlach Glue Two tip, which will place seam sealer exactly where it belongs. If any fuzzing exists afterwards, it can be trimmed off with duck-billed napping shears. For stretch-in carpet, regardless of construction, each edge of the carpet must be sealed to secure the primary and secondary backing. This process must be done conscientiously. You can’t just go through the motions. The vast majority of carpet seam issues are installation related, not necessarily from not using seam sealer but from placing it incorrectly.
HARDWOOD IN OLDER HOMES
I recently received a question from an inquiring dealer concerned about whether the wood subfloor and floor joists in an older home could support the weight of new hardwood. For this, it’s worth referring to the installation guidelines from to the National Wood Flooring Association.
First and foremost, it is imperative to check the width of floor joists. For joists no wider than 19.2” apart, minimum requirements are 5/8” plywood or 3/4” OSB. For joists 24” on center, minimum requirements are 7/8” plywood or 1” OSB. In some older homes with 48” joists, 2”x6” planks with the pea groove down (for the ceiling) and the square edge up (for the subfloor) were used on the upstairs floors. But remember the previous quotes are the NWFA’s minimum requirements. If possible, you may want to reinforce the subfloor by using 4”x4” planks underneath, between the joists. The NWFA standard tolerance for deflection is 1/2” in 20’ and 3/16” in 8’.
This may be something many dealers don’t give much consideration to, but you have to be aware of the stability of the substrate you’re installing over. If you don’t, you may have hidden problems arise later that will cost you a small fortune to correct. It is the responsibility of the dealer to know these facts prior to the installation. Ask questions and never assume anything. Assuming makes you liable for a flooring failure.
SAFELY ELIMINATING THAT NEW CARPET SMELL
This next inquiry came from a dealer who had just installed new polyester carpet, though it could have been any type. The customer was very sensitive to the new carpet smell and decided, on her own, to hire a cleaner who cleared the air with ozone machines.
Ozone machines are great for removing odor. They are used to neutralize smoke odor, trash odor and even dead body odor, but ozone is also an oxidizer, which means that it bleaches or alters color. In hot, humid climates, it is not uncommon for ozone in the atmosphere to affect the blue dye component in carpet. When used in high concentrations and for an extended period of time, as it was here, it will certainly change the color of the carpet, and it did. In this case, the cleaner was responsible for the damage, as was the consumer. Simply allowing the carpet to air out for a few days would have eliminated the new carpet smell without damaging the carpet.
GYP-CRETE AND MOISTURE
Last but not least came a question about testing Gyp-Crete, a gypsum floor underlayment, for moisture in a building before installing the flooring. Gyp-Crete can only be tested with a non-invasive impedance meter such as a Tramex moisture encounter. The traditional means of testing moisture in concrete—calcium chloride and relative humidity—will not work with Gyp-Crete. Gyp-Crete can contain moisture and therefore must be tested and remediated with a sealer or membrane if moisture exists. Otherwise the installation could be jeopardized.
FLOORING DAMAGE AND REPAIR
Winter is upon us, and it’s important to remember that what’s used outside in inclement weather regions can have damaging effects on floorcovering products. Ice melt pellets do a great job eliminating ice and snow in cold weather, but they can be tracked indoors and create havoc with the floors. Ice melt, which is calcium chloride sold under a variety of names, can cause dark soiling in carpets, change the color of carpet, effect the structural integrity of carpet and leave a residue that pulls moisture from the air, making hard surface floors slippery. It won’t hurt concrete outdoors, but it can create havoc indoors. Rock salt will leave a granular powder, which can be vacuumed or cleaned off. Be aware that controlling ice and snow can cause problems with flooring that no one associated with the flooring should be blamed for.
Carpet and flooring repairs offer skilled craftsman—those who have great patience, people skills and good presence, which means they are well groomed, neatly dressed and personable individuals—a business opportunity on which to capitalize. This was a service that I offered in the ’70s to carpet retail stores, insurance companies and end-users. Installers don’t like to repair flawed installations or damaged carpet, so I offered a service to dealers doing repair work, both residential and commercial. There was nothing we wouldn’t do. Today, the market for such a service could be huge.
Copyright 2014 Floor Focus