There are several new condominium buildings that are having issues with the installation of carpets on the common corridors in their buildings. Third party carpet inspectors are generally the people who end up having to make the decision on why the carpets are failing. By the time a carpet inspector finally gets involved with one of these claims the carpet has been subjected to move-ins, steam cleaning, vacuuming and atmospheric issues.
The very nature of the hospitality style carpet used in condominium common areas can invite problems. Proper installation and maintenance procedures are extremely important if there is any hope to maintain a beautiful appearance for over ten years.
Carpeted common corridors in condominiums often have stylized borders and irregularly shaped hallways that require several carpet panels to be seamed together to complete the installation. The manner in which carpet seams are expected to be constructed has changed dramatically over the last five years. Unfortunately no one seems to have informed the carpet installers. There is just no mechanism in the industry that keeps the carpet installers and retailers informed on industry changes.
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute's Standard for Carpet Installation 2011, glued down carpet is supposed to have all cut edges seam sealed with a thermo plastic adhesive or something similar. Then a third bead of seam sealer is supposed to be applied to one edge of the seam to "weld" together the carpet panels. Most carpet installers and retailers are unaware of this requirement. It is no wonder that seams are fuzzing in so many buildings.
Unfortunately the blame for fuzzing seams gets placed on the carpet manufacturer, the carpet cleaners, the vacuum cleaners and the latest one is the new LEED approved carpet adhesive. There is nothing further from the truth. The reason the architects and the carpet manufacturers insist on all cut edges of the carpet be encapsulated with a seam sealer is that they need it. The construction of carpet and the adhesives used to bind the primary and secondary backings has changed for a number of reasons, primarily to make carpet a carpet "greener".
Another installation related issue creating havoc with installations is lack of adhesive being used to hold the carpet to the substrate. If there is one place where corners can be cut it's by cutting back on the amount of adhesive used to hold down the carpet. You can double the "savings" if the carpet is a double-gluedown installation. This type of installation is when the carpet is affixed to the underpad and the underpad is affixed to the concrete. There are charts that clearly outline what kind of trowel to use to apply the adhesive on different styles of carpet backings. Unfortunately it's rare that installers to abide by this chart. The rule of thumb for a properly affixed carpet is that it would be extremely difficult to peel back a carpet and if you could that there would be legs in the adhesive. Legs in the adhesive means that the where the glue separates from the concrete there are strings of adhesive between the floor and the carpet backing.
The last major issue with corridor carpets that is often seen is when wall to wall carpet is replaced by new carpet tiles. Carpet tiles are installed with a pressure sensitive adhesive. This adhesive must be applied to a clean concrete surface free of all contaminants including adhesive from previous carpet installations. If pressure sensitive adhesive is applied over the old carpet adhesive then it mixes in with it, moisture is trapped and as the moisture eventually tries to escape around the edges of the carpet tiles and lift or the new adhesive emulsifies. Again this issue is usually blamed on the manufacturer and the carpet supplier will often try and gluedown the lifting edges using adhesive that they should not be using in attempt to keep the lifting edges down on the concrete.
The dilemma for most condominium corporations is the assumption that carpeting is being installed by spec. When a company who does things properly quotes against a company who does not the price difference is quite substantial. Inevitably the companies who make short cuts or don't know the standards get awarded the contract. Unfortunately the sad truth is very few companies are installing according to standard.
So what is the solution? It's very simple:
• Ensure that all seams are constructed with three beads of seam sealer
• Ask that the appropriate amount of adhesive and the necessary number of trowels be included in the shipment from the carpet manufacturer
• Always ensure that the concrete substrate is prepared properly according to the manufacturer's specifications
• There are certified carpet inspectors available in the marketplace who can be hired to confirm that the carpet was installed according to standard