January 18, 2013

Werner Braun: Carpet installation standards — finally!

Dalton is the undisputed Carpet Capital of the World, and Georgia residents should be proud of the carpet manufacturing industry’s contribution to the quality of life of people throughout the world.

Carpet and rugs create a quieter, more comfortable, safer and more environmentally friendly environment in homes and businesses. But the carpet value chain consists of a lot more than merely manufacturing the product. Soon after distribution and sale, carpet has to be installed.

In past years, carpet installation was a trade handed down from employer to employee. But the quality of installation work was highly dependent on the quality of on-the-job training programs, as well as how receptive an aspiring installer was to that training. Unfortunately, there were no standards by which to judge the quality of an installation job or to guide the training process.

And in terms of consumer misperceptions about carpet, installation issues rank second, just behind maintenance and cleaning. This highlights the critical need for an installation standard.

And that’s where the Carpet and Rug Institute, headquartered in Dalton, enters the picture. In 2009, the CRI, in association with the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), brought the need for an installation standard to the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (otherwise known as the IICRC). Since 1991, the IICRC has specialized in developing carpet industry standards and is approved for writing standards by the prestigious American National Standards Institute (ANSI). That’s a mouthful of acronyms, but together, they are the ingredients necessary to create a quality installation standard.

From 2009 to 2012, the IICRC assembled installation experts from major manufacturers, including Shaw, Mohawk and Beaulieu, along with installation trainers and others, to combine their expertise from the installation trades. Most of the expert volunteers hail from the North Georgia area — many of whom live and work in this area daily.

Over time, some 16 chapters evolved to create the ANSI/IICRC S600 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Carpet Installation, or simply, ANSI/IICRC S600.

The highly practical ANSI/IICRC S600 installation standard begins with areas of responsibility for all parties of the carpet value chain including: manufacturers, distributors, specifiers, retailers, architects, designers, installers and consumers or end-users. It continues with discussions about carpet components, carpet cushion and installation equipment, tools and materials.

The section on installation estimating and planning is followed by subfloor preparation, and descriptions of both glue-down and stretch-in installation methods, including both their advantages and limitations. The standard concludes by covering specialty installations, patterned carpet installation and carpet installation on stairs.

The ANSI/IICRC S600 carpet installation standard is scheduled for publication by mid-2013, assuming that the peer-review process proceeds on schedule.

The standard represents a huge commitment on the part of the Carpet and Rug Institute to elevate the quality of one of Georgia’s most important products: carpet. It provides consumer assurance that the carpet value chain will not be broken, all the way from fiber production to a quality finished flooring installation.

And that’s good news for all of us.

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.


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