Carpet: Uneven gaps at baseboard.

Discussion in 'Carpet Q&A' started by 1nurse, Sep 4, 2017.

  1. 1nurse

    1nurse Member


    We've recently had carpet installed in a newly finished basement. The finished project looks terrible with various gapping at the baseboards throughout the basement. Initially the installer blamed the height of the baseboards, when it was determined the baseboards were installed properly, the installer said it was because the floors were uneven. That is the first we heard about the floors being uneven. When we questioned the gaps on the day of the install, the installer emphatically explained to us that the gaps were necessary in Colorado to allow for movement caused by temperature changes through the seasons. When our basement contractor saw the carpet, he said that what we were told was a complete lie and that gaps like that were not normal at all.

    At this point the installer is telling us are that we out of luck because we signed off on it (after being lied to about the gaps being "normal" and that it isn't their fault that our floors are uneven. When we looked at the contract, it appears the installer recognized that the floors may be uneven, however, did not discuss with us the option of leveling the floors before moving forward with the carpet install. I understand that extra work would have resulted in an additional cost, and would have preferred to pay more than have such a tacky finished product. The installers have recommended to us that we should consider hiring someone to install quarter round to "cover up the gaps". I guess I am trying to determine if there are any remedies that don't include quarter round and if there was anything the installers could have done prior or during the install to have prevented this. I have included a few photos and a copy of the contract as well. Thank you!

    Attached Files:

  2. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    Tack strip plus carpet is going to be at least 1/2 inch or so thicknes. So if I'm seeing correctly those baseboards were set 3/4" to an inch off the floor WITH NO ATTEMPT TO CREATE A CONSISTENT FINISH. Your "basement contractor is a moron".

    Yes, the carpet guy could have remedied that at significant extra cost. But the base should NOT be installed first if those who install the baseboards are not going to adjust (scribe) to the irregular slope/rolls/lumpy substrate.

    It's really NOT cost efficient for the carpet installer to have to shim up the tack strip or float/level concrete in a case like this. The baseboards could have EASILY been set DOWN low enough so the carpet could be fit net to the wood. It's a tighter and better fit to ensure a longer term grip than having the base setting above the floor-----Sorry.

    Best fix is to pull the base and re-set and re-caulk and re-paint as opposed to quarter round which looks cheesey or dicking around with the carpet.

    It's simply not the carpet guys responsibility to answer for shoddy woodwork by your "basement contractor".
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  3. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    What I'm seeing is it looks like the gaps are quite extensive and the base is at least 6 inches in height making it hard to push up and down when installing. My opinion would fall back on the installer that installed the base as to high off the floor. Somewhere along the line carpenters came up with the idea of lifting the base to an old installer who thinks the base should rest on the floor.
    Now to your problem. I have had to go back and shim up my tackless to raise the height to make the carpet reach the base. Which in turn could make a new problem on pad thickness, will it not show what is called picture framing-tackless being higher than the pad. Easiest solution is to put some kind of molding on the base painted to match, problem solved. Or make the installer tear it all up and raise the tackless so it don't show.
    Sometimes moving the tackstrip closer to the base helps but in this case I this case I don't think it will I still think the base is the problem, installed to high up. Base to high carpet not thick enough.
    Just my opinion here as I'm sure there will be more.


  4. 1nurse

    1nurse Member

    Wow. I didn't expect this as the installers themselves confirmed it wasn't an issue with the baseboards after they re-inspected the work. Why would they have told us it was "normal" to have gaps like that if it were so obvious that it was due to the baseboards. Seems odd they would rather lie than blame a more obvious cause.

    Would it have been expected that the flooring installer should have recognized the issues (whether it was a baseboard problem or a levelness problem, prior to moving forward with the install) and discussed the appropriateness of this carpet choice? Perhaps a higher pile carpet could have been a better choice? Thanks again for your reply. I appreciate it.
  5. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    @1nurse, I'm not sure your building contractor is a moron, but he knew the gaps weren't normal and he tried to throw the carpet installer under the bus for something that the builder should have done correctly to begin with. Yeah, maybe the installer failed to communicate very well. Common malady. But residential carpet installers rarely ever, maybe even never are responsible for the slab's unevenness. But I didn't see any of your photos that illustrated that. What I see is a baseboard that was installed way too high.

    My guess: your basement contractor didn't actually do the base installation. He told some cheap laborer to do it by shimming the base up with 3/8" something. Instead, the laborer used 3/4" something (scrap wood) for shimming and the painter just caulked and painted what was given to them. Now the carpet installer comes in and is at a loss for words. He's prob'ly been told not to talk to the customer, just lay the carpet. You asking questions about something he knows isn't his fault, throws him off. He fumbled. He should have told you to discuss that issue with the builder, as he's there just to install carpet in the room and conditions provided. Again, just my guess.
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  6. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    Installers aren't there to discuss the choice of carpet but yes, they could refuse to install the carpet until corrections to the unacceptable conditions are agreed upon and the extra costs approved. But no, I would not agree that he is responsible for the shoddy woodwork. Carpenters simply aren't supposed to install wood base all cockeyed and uneven to the slab. They need to scribe and cut as needed to create a consistent finish to receive carpet. Is the "basment contractor" licensed and insured? What are his qualifications? Can't he see how cockeyed his baseboards are to the concrete? What's HIS deal?

    I still say it's not that big of a deal to pull that base off and set it down firmly to cover those gaps------even if they need to rip/scribe a little off the bottom. The basement contractor ought to know how to do that, including the PUTTY AND PAINT that make a CARPENTER WHAT HE AINT.
  7. 1nurse

    1nurse Member

    Baseboards were set at 3/8 inch. The padding and carpet takes a nosedive before/at the baseboards and in some areas the carpet nosedives and then climbs back up the wall creating a groove.
  8. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    If the installers Said it isn't a baseboard issue then it is their problem. I'm looking at pictures which are very good by the way and making an assumption from them. In that case they are just plain short of the wall. Stretch it back so it hides.
    Discussing the appropriateness of the carpet choice is not a professional thing to do. That is between you and your sales person.
    Whomever did the measure is the one who should have seen the problem that could arise on the install. The installer quite frankly is paid to install the carpet to the best of his/her abilities in a professional manner. Sorry if it sounds like I'm sticking up for the installer, but after 51 years installing I've seen a lot of things we get blamed for that isn't our fault.
    If your installer says he is to blame then it is up to him to rectify the problem plain and simple.


  9. Incognito

    Incognito No more Mr. Nice Guy! I Support TFP Senior Member

    Uh oh?
    It impossible to see from the pictures but MAYBE the tack strip is too far from the wall so the carpet drops back down laying low to the base. But you're not trying to tell me the base is CONSISTENTLY set to 3/8" are you? I'd really have to peel back half a dozen small sections off the wall and measure that gap before I could believe that. It's really not likely. MUCH more likely what Jim says above. They set the gap here and there at 3/8" with no account for the dips and possibility that where they set the shim is the high spot in the room.

    That's a strong argument but I feel the carpet guy simply doesn't know how to respond to your complaint. He's in a very awkward spot. As mentioned he certainly COULD have complained and refused to install without corrections. Sounds like he shot himself in the foot.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2017
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  10. 1nurse

    1nurse Member

    Very confusing that the installers aren't blaming the baseboards at all, but just saying it's because the floors were uneven. In fact, when they inspected the baseboards they said our contractor's work was spot on, but the floors were the issue. I found the following verbiage when trying to research my options.

    CRI 105 Standard for
    Installation of Residential Carpet 8.0 Substrate Preparation...
    Carpet is required to be installed over properly prepared substrates that
    are suitable for the specific product and installation method selected. All
    cracks, holes and flooring irregularities are required to be repaired to
    ensure a flat, smooth substrate, prevent accelerated wear and telegraphing
    substrate irregularities.


    .01 Minor discrepancies in new or existing surfaces levels can be adjusted by using patching and filling compounds. This is, within reason, considered part of the work of the flooring installer. (Refer to Parts B05, C05, D05, E05, and F05 - Scope of Work within each Flooring section.)

    They placed 3/8 inch individual pieces of wood in various places along the wall. I know there must be a more technical way to explain that. Hope it makes sense!

    Thanks again for your response. From my understanding is that the rep who measured/surveyed the site IS an employee of the carpet company that installed the carpet. He noted that levelness was a concern but it must not have been communicated further.

    Thanks so much for your reply. It was the owner of the carpet company who said it's not the baseboards, but the unevenness of the floor to blame. His employee, the installer, said that the gaps were normal for Colorado basements.

    I do wish they would have communicated the issues with us ahead of time, it would have saved a lot of frustration. Yes, our contractor is licensed, ensured and has done literally hundreds of basement remodels in our neighborhood and the immediate area. He has a very good reputation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2017
  11. kylenelson

    kylenelson You'll find me on the floor I Support TFP Senior Member

    The contractor should have adjusted his height of the base to be no higher than 3/8" off the concrete at the lowest spot of the dips in your floor. It's absolutely out of the control of the installer in most cases. I have had contractors ask me to try to hide these kinds of flaws and other times I have just told them they will have to lower the base if it doesn't hit the carpet
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  12. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I don't know what carpet you have because you didn't say, so I don't know how thick it is. If your base was shimmed at 3/8", that may have been too high for the thickness of the carpet you chose. This information - thickness of carpet where it dives into the gully (that space between face of base and leading edge of tackless strip). That is actually thinner than the stated thickness of the carpet pile.

    Unfortunately, to many builders, all carpet's the same. Short-piled carpets, like yours, can cause this problem. Equally unfortunate, many installers don't have very good communications skills. It can be exacerbated by a perceived necessity to try to save the repeat customer, the builder, from financial liability. This is the fault of the builder. He was in charge of making sure the slab was smooth to a reasonable degree. He was responsible for making sure the base was installed so there was no visible gap where it meets the carpet his client picked out.

    It was the homeowner's responsibility to provide details about these floor coverings to the builder. You may not have realized that necessity, but surely you must have seen that huge gap between bottom of base and top of concrete before the carpet was installed.

    As has become all too common, it seems to me that the biggest fault lies in a lack of communications skills by everyone. If only the carpet installer had brought the gap issue up to someone before he installed the carpet. If only the homeowner had asked the builder about that huge gap in relation to the carpet before the carpet installer even was scheduled. If only the builder had noticed that wavy floor when it became more obvious after the base had been installed and discussed a resolution with the homeowner. In this case, it may even go back farther than that. Communication. :ohno:

    Oh yeah, that "nosedive" the carpet takes... is necessary. There is supposed to be a gully between base and tack strip where the carpet is tucked in. And that groove is under the base, where the carpet installer tucked a too long cut edge of carpet because the base was way too high.

    One fix to consider: Have the builder add a 1/4" thick board to the base, with the top just under the reveal edge of the existing base and the bottom pressed into the carpet. It can be puttied, caulked, sealed and painted to match the existing base. It's not the easiest fix, but probably the quickest. All the thin boards can be sealed and painted before installation, so after installation, all you have to do is putty up the nail holes, caulk the joins and touch up the paint. It will add a quarter-inch thickness to the base, but won't be ugly like quarter-round. It will look only a little different than the base as it is now and with no gaps at the bottom. These boards are a little hard to find, but I made my bedroom walls look like wainscotting with them.

    Attached Files:

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  13. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I hate seeing gaps under base, it's an eye sore. I don't know why I haven't taken more pictures of it when I see it.

    6" base acts as a straightedge, it doesn't follow contours of slab/subfloor. If other types of flooring like laminate or hardwood, then raised would be "ok". It's followed up with 1/4 round which flexes to follow height variations.

    Scribing is time consuming verse drop and pop.

    Attached Files:

  14. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    The only way I could see this being the carpet installers fault is if the tack strip was inconsistently set with regards to the gap from the wall. Being a concrete floor I'd say that is possible. Not too many installers like to get too close to the base due to increasing their chances of blasting a base board with their hammer. Your carpet looks to be a thinner carpet and that just exacerbates the situation. I'm guessing that if you had a thicker plush, you wouldn't see those gaps.

    The easy fix is to have the carpet installer pull the carpet back and put some pad in the gap then reset the carpet. Had your installer said something ahead of time, he could have likely been paid for doing that. Sure, it's not the installers fault that the slab is inconsistent or that the base may be too high for the chosen carpet, but he was the last one to touch it and didn't say anything so that's how the cookie crumbles. Contracting is just one big ol game of musical chairs and when the music stops someone always gets burned.
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  15. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    If communication is an issue, my as well include everything. That means all who have responsibility in the matter to bring forth on this thread everything that was discussed. Retailer, salesperson,estimator,etc.
  16. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    I know you're right, Mike. The problem these days is that nobody really tries to prevent problems. They just want them to go away when they happen and unfortunately the easiest fix is to have the carpet guy fix it. Otherwise you involve the trim guy, painters and then the carpet guy again and they all want to be paid.

    All of this is blown up with the fact that we are in a vicious lowest price circle around the swirly bowl of our economy. You really do get what you pay for. That carpet installer could have cried ahead of time or during the repair. This is one of the reasons I don't touch carpet anymore.

    For the homeowner it is a fairly easy fix. Let someone else fight about whose fault it is because it certainly isn't theirs.
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  17. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Ok, long story short if the carpet company said it was their problem what are they going to do about it to rectify the problem-anything?


  18. Mike Sliwinski

    Mike Sliwinski The Doctor Is In I Support TFP Senior Member

    Sorry this happened to you, it really sucks, because you chose a beautiful carpet. I wish I was the measuring service because this was a daily issue
    in my area, corrected by using Johnsonite Shims, VCT , cove base, cement patch, or a combination, BUT ! we where the exception to the rule, many installers would tell the consumer nothing can be done on their end. Have the carpenter come back with quarter round or door stop molding.

    Personally, if it comes down to that, as the solution, I
    like door stop molding, but it may look funny because of your rounded corners. Dry fit it to see, you may actually like it, we all hope so ;)

    At the very least, the low spots should have..... sorry !! Could have
    been patched by the carpet installer, creating a uniformed looking gap.

    Back in the day, baseboards where never raised, but for some reason, it's not my business to say or to really understand, they are constantly raised
    and thin carpets will never cover the gap. That's why, when hiring a contractor, it's important to notice that they are noticing fine detail when
    measuring and evaluating the job site. The work looks great, BUT if the carpenter didn't want to scribe to the undulating slab to create a uniformed 3/8'' raise, he darn sure should have brought it to your attention that
    a thin carpet may show gaps and to purchase a thicker product. He's the quarterback of the project IMHO

    At this point, like Ingognito said, pull back a few areas and measure the gap. This way you have a starting point for potential corrective measures / options. Also look at the gully dimension of the installed tackless. For that carpets thickness, it should be 3/8'', at the most, away from where the baseboard would have touched the concrete, had it not been raised. In
    some situations, just installing the tackless closer, like Daris said, maybe 1/4'' away, could have been enough to hide those gaps just enough to be acceptable.

    Wish u Luck
  19. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    There may be another option without tearing it all out. I've done this also. Very carefully curl the carpet back without unhooking it and lay some pad in under the base so it is tight as possible to the gripper and push the carpet back into the areas that show. It maybe just enough to hide the gap holding the carpet from laying down under the base.
    Please let us know how it turns out and how it was done.


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  20. mgd

    mgd Pro Member

    you can do what Daris said above as a "first try"fix, hopefully carpet was power stretched and is secure on smoothedge . I'll also say base too high for carpet chosen...sorry.

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