Let's talk seams..

Discussion in 'Carpet Q&A' started by mamamelanie, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. mamamelanie

    mamamelanie Member

    Hi there,

    I posted awhile back on choosing a carpet and have finally chosen one! I picked Tigressa, soft style, hayslip, textured carpet. (I think this is actually a shaw product from my googling.) It is BCF Nylon, 6.70 twist, 53.50 face weight, and 3711 density. I'm thinking I finally found a quality carpet!? So now I want to make sure whoever does this work knows what they are doing in terms of seams. How do I ask the right questions to make sure I get someone who is going to do it right?

    One installer said he uses a tool called a seamer down. He said he uses a tape underneath and then an iron which heats it up and melts the backing together and then it immediately cools it down. Is this the best way to go about a seam for this carpet? I am also concerned about VOC's and off-gasing but have heard they have made many changes so most options are better in that regard. Should I ask which sealer he is using or what should I ask? We are a chemically sensitive family so that's why I'm asking.

    Thanks SO much for any advice any of you have. I am so grateful for this forum!

  2. Daris Mulkin

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

    He should also be sealing the seams. Thermoplastic is the way to go but make sure it is sealed. Thermo wouldn't have much off gassing if any after it is cool. Seamer down is a good tool also to use. The only off gassing is when the seam is constructed. If you are chemically sensitive I would have the installer set his iron outside as soon as he is done seaming as there will be some smoke from the seaming process. You may want to open a window and have a fan blowing toward the outside. Any thing you can do to get rid of the smells would be to your benefit. I've done jobs where I couldn't wear deodorant of after shave.
    Carpet will have an oder so there will be some off gassing there. Again have windows or the HVAC going to dissipate the oders or voc's. They should be gone in 24-48 hours.


  3. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I prefer the koolglide iron. Main benefit is that it's not a one shot chance. With the koolglide, if there's a gap or overlap, it can be reheated and reset. Sealed seams with latex or thermo is fine.
  4. Roland Thompson

    Roland Thompson Charter Member Senior Member

    You are asking a question that there is more then one tool and more the one way to do. Yes Kool Glide is a good seaming iron, but is it the only one No, Seamerdown is a great seam weight behind any seam iron, but there again is it the only way? No. do I use both of them, Yes. Does not mean I am better then someone who uses the regular iron and a normal seam weight.
    This is what I will tell you to ask.
    Does your installer follow the industry standard? This means that it is to be sealed, no cut fibers or loops, backing level and tight, no gaps, seam tape melted correctly. If all this is done you then will have a good long lasting seam.
  5. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    Ask where seam placement will be. Hopefully the installer is certified and knows what they're doing or there could be issues. Seams to me, you don't want to talk about it, seams to me, you just turn your pretty head and walk away. It's just what incognito would say!
  6. mamamelanie

    mamamelanie Member

    Thanks everyone for your great responses! For someone who knows nothing about seams I had to take a little time to read about the terminology. I found this article which helped me better understand.

    Installing Carpet: Seam Sealing and Installation Tools | 2015-01-19 | Floor Covering

    So to recap these are the things I want to ask my installer..
    1. Do you follow the industry standard? Seams are sealed (I thought all installers sealed seams but I guess not, how crazy), that he will not be cutting any fibers or loops on the carpet, the backing will be level and tight, and seam tape is melted correctly.

    (If my installer is using a seamer down tool that does mean he is indeed sealing the seam? What chemical is he going to use for this? are there greener/less toxic options?)

    2. Where will the seam placement be? Question for you all.. where should they be? I know nothing on where they should be other than in places that aren't out wide in the open.. like in the living room under the couch verses a spot that is wide open with no furniture on it. We have a hallway from the front door that leads to the living room and both installers would put a seam at the end of that however that's a high traffic area because we turn right to go down the hallway that leads to the bedrooms and baths. I'm guessing there is no around it though?

    Is it typical to have a seam at each closet opening?

    And one more question for you all. If my installer has years of experience but he hasn't been doing it for awhile and is now getting back into it because he needs the money.. would you worry that he is out of practice and go with someone else? Or does his previous years of experience still make him as qualified?

    Thanks again for your great tips and taking the time to help me!!!!

  7. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    The Seamer Down Now tool is not a seam sealing tool and has nothing to do with whether the seam is properly prepared or made. It helps pull molten seam adhesive into the backing of the carpet and cools the seam much faster. It has a very strong vacuum suction motor and a large, flat bottom with vents. It pulls air. Loudly.

    Seam sealer is applied in preparation to making a seam. There are liquids that look like thick cream or the sealer may be in the form of thermal plastic adhesive that oozes out of a special tip on a hot melt gun. Sealer is applied to the edge of the carpet backings, bonding the primary and secondary to prevent loss of carpet yarn that is tufted through the primary backing. Sealer should not get on the yarn above the primary backing.

    None of the sealers I every used in 35 years were an off-gassing concern by the end of the day. They all had an odor when wet and melting thermal plastic smokes. But all of that dissipates within a very short time. Every installer should provide proper ventilation, not just to protect the customer, but to protect him or herself. They don't always though.

    We don't know. You haven't provided a diagram. A well made seam should not be a concern about wear and, depending on the carpet construction and style, it could be that you won't even see them. I rarely liked telling my customers where the seams were going to be, because invariably, they would "see" them. Many times they only thought they saw the seam. Often it was only a vacuum cleaner mark. Even so, no smart installer will tell you their seams will be invisible. I can see seams in just about every carpet I look at because I know where to look and can recognize the faintest of evidence. No manufacturer of textile material will claim invisible seams. If they are invisible, great. If they are ugly and too apparent, then they need to be fixed. Everything in between is subjective.

    We all like to complain about the money. It's never enough. But a good installer - or someone good at just about anything - should not be hard up for cash. If yours is, I would be wondering why. But I would only wonder for a very short time because I'd be too busy looking for an experienced and successful installer.

  8. Daris Mulkin

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

    Jim's got it.


  9. kylenelson

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

    The guy who is using the seamerdown tool (with the koolglide) is probably the guy I would go with. It doesn't automatically make him a master, but it says to me that he care enough to invest in extra equipment to do the job right. Carpet seams are rarely a problem for a competent installer. True, some carpets can be especially difficult, but I almost never hear about problematic or unsightly seams. That's not to say there isn't a butcher in every town that works for less money and does the job twice as fast, because those guys are out there. But they're generally the ones NOT using the SeamerDown/Koolglide combo because it's slower and more expensive.
  10. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I never bought a Seamer Down Now. I didn't want to subject my ears to that kind of noise and never found that I had any significant wait time for seams to cool before I could stretch. I planned my work so that there was always something to do while a seam cooled naturally. I also didn't like the marketing tactics used by the inventor when it first came out, nor the personal attacks I endured from his father whenever I had an opinion. And I never once criticized the effectiveness of the tool.

    Well, water under the bridge, I guess.

    Once I started using a Kool Glide to make most seams, I discovered the cooling time was much shorter.
  11. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I like the part where it reduces moisture from the area. Basically it's a cheap loud vacuum with a cover imo, and I am radical about tool opinions.

    Sounds a little like my situation of carpet, it's the last thing I want to do. We are declining installing 1600ft of hardwood next week, but removing 600ft. So it's not that we need the money, it's just that it's too low. 1.50$ a ft for empty just doesn't cut it anymore, we get 2$ to remove a ft and hopefully one day.

    So price does have something to do with the equation. I say hire Nate (probably too far away)if you want the best carpet installation. See his price versus just anyone off the street.
  12. kylenelson

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

    I use ear muffs...cuts the noise down. The tool is way more than just cooling a seam down fast so you can stretch. You can align patterns and do bowed/skewed seams about a million times easier and get a good result. Like I said, it doesn't mean the guyis better for owning it, but it tells me something when someone is using the koolglide, at least from an installers perspective.
  13. mamamelanie

    mamamelanie Member

    A couple questions:

    1. Am I understanding correctly that the Seamer Down Now tool is used in conjunction with the Kool Glide Iron? Do some installers use a different iron other than Kool Glide?

    2. I asked my installer if he seals the seams and he said he doesn't use a seam sealer on most seams because the machine pulls glue up from the seam tape and actually seals the seam together. He says this way there are no added toxins from glue. Thoughts?

    3. This installer isn't hard up for money because he doesn't have jobs to do. He actually got away from doing carpets and into a completely different line of work. It sounds like that work isn't bringing in enough money so he's going back to what he knows which is carpet. He has 30 some years experience I have been told. However I don't see any reviews on Angie's List or anywhere else. I'm buying my carpet from a wholesale place and they gave me his name and said he has been installing carpets for them for 20 years. My question before was if the installer got away from doing carpets then back into it.. would he still do as good of a job or is it something where if you don't use it you lose it? Meaning maybe he would need to do a few first to get back into a groove of sealing good seams and doing a good job. I don't know how long he has been away from doing carpets, but I could ask.

    Thanks again for any thoughts and guidance!
  14. Nate Hall

    Nate Hall Types With toes Senior Member Published

    By way of muddling the water,a bit more. It's more important what goes on under the seam tape than what goes on above it. ( seamer down now, weight, different irons, etc.) Doing a seam on the cushion is going to make a weak and probably unsightly seam. A good installation professional would put a board between the seam tape and the cushion so as to have a firm surface to seam on. A board helps to keep the tape flat also.
  15. Chris Mha

    Chris Mha Charter Member Senior Member

    Wrong. The seam must be physically sealed with thermo-plastic or latex seam sealer. I prefer thermo- plastic. The heat from the iron whether it is a Kool Glide or a conventional iron re-heats the thermo-plastic and causes them to adhere to on another. The adhesive is not drawn up into the seam line with the seamerdown to seal the edge.
  16. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    I like the board under seams, I used wide laminate boards that worked well.

    I haven't used my ride on scraper for awhile, used it today, did very well, was just more cautious. So, I think he'll do fine, seams are not stitches or something life threatening like flying an airplane.

    Seamer down now is just a heat extractor, both types of irons heat glue but different ways of transferring heat to melt.
  17. kwfloors

    kwfloors Fuzz on the brain Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    You don't need the board under when using the SDN as it pulls the tape up. I have used it for both seaming systems too.
  18. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    By "both seaming systems," mamamelanie, they are referring to the Kool Glide, which uses a induction heating system and is done from the face of the carpet, and conventional seaming irons that slide along a tape under the carpet, melting the thermoplastic adhesive and then positioning the carpet into the melted adhesive. The Seamer Down Now works on both systems. The SDN will work quite well when the seams are constructed over carpet pad. Many installers use conventional seam irons over pad too and to excellent results, if the cushion is firm enough. A long, narrow piece of plywood or masonite (some are made from other materials too) will provide a more stable base to construct the seam because a hand roller is used to press the carpet firmly into the adhesive.

    Your carpet seam edges need to be sealed. That is the the standard and the correct way to do it. Thinking the SDN will eliminate that process shows a lack of understanding of the tool and the standards. It doesn't mean your installer will do a terrible job, but it does mean you need to insist the installer comply with the standards for residential carpet installation, CRI-105. You can provide the installer with a copy of your expectations by printing this PDF file.

  19. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    The board helps when pressing/rolling seam to keep backing at same height and force adhesive upward into the backing. I don't have the SDN, so I am unaware of it negates the need for a board, I can't see how it would. Seems like the SDN is an after the fact and the board is while placing backing into the hot melt precisely where needed.

    Now I'm all for learning a little deeper, detail!
  20. Chris Mha

    Chris Mha Charter Member Senior Member

    The SDN can be used with a board but it restricts airflow. Without a board more air can flow through the cushion and carpet.

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