What is best cutting method for loop pile carpet?


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Old 03-17-07, 10:50 AM
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What is best cutting method for loop pile carpet?

I posted a similar question yesterday but it seems to have disappeared.
I would like to know the proper way to cut loop pile carpet. Should it be cut from the top or on the bottom. I have a long seam to cut and if I cut from the top I can't use a chalk line to mark the cut can I? My understanding that when cutting from the bottom (or backing side) it is hard to stay between the loop rows. Anybody?
 
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Old 03-18-07, 09:20 AM
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Your understanding is correct. Loop pile carpets need to be cut from the top, between the rows. There are a number of methods used, most of which work fine. Most installers will die on their own preferred hill, but the end goal is the same and how you get there is not so important as the final result. I'm going to assume you are not a pro and don't have the usual row knives in my reply. Carpet is stitched length ways meaning, the rows go the length of the carpet, not the width. Length wise seams are the easiest to do because you can find a true row more easily. Try pulling a row from a scrap piece. If it's a straight wire, the row will pull straight without any zig zag to it. If it does, pull a row on each piece you're seaming together and cut the salvage off with a good heavy scissors. Keep pulling rows until you get to a good edge for seaming. Sometimes it only takes one per side, sometimes it takes more. You'll have to be the judge of that. Then seam it together. I'm assuming you've already done seams so I'm not explaining how to do that. This seam is called a side seam. The other seam is called a butt or head seam and is sometimes tougher to find. This seam requires finding a false row from side to side of the carpet which most loop piles will have. The easiest way to find one is to bend the carpet. This will cause the rows to "smile" or open up. Keep bending the carpet along the exposed row and cut with scissors between the rows. This is not a true row, but will give you a nice seam. It is extremely critical that this seam be sealed immediately and allowed to dry before seaming. This method interrupts the integrity of every row cut and will fray or unravel very soon if not properly sealed. All seams must be sealed, but a loop pile head seam is the worst and sealing is not optional.
 
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Old 03-18-07, 01:21 PM
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Thanks for the great instructions Smokey49. You are right I am definitely not a pro, just adventurous. I do have a carpet cutter with thin metal tip that is supposed to seperate the rows. I made some practice cuts with it but I think it would be too easy to get outside of the row with it. Do you think sissors would make a better cut? The carpet does have straight rows by the way. I bought some sealer but did not know for sure if I needed to use it so your help is greatly appreciated. I am carpeting my entire basement it is split into three sections the carpet will be seamed in two places where the rooms come together and there will be a seam to widen the 12 ft. piece in one room. I am planning to make all of the seams before stretching. Does that sound like the right way to go?
 
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Old 03-18-07, 06:41 PM
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I've found scissors to be a pretty safe bet on most loop piles. The row knife you describe does work well, but took me some practice to get used to. I used scissors quite a while before I trusted it. It can be a bit more challenging on the really short loops such as a more commercial level loop. I use a row knife all the time now. One little trick that may help is to use a ball point pen to run the rows and open them up. Keep the body of the pen almost level with the floor so the tip doesn't tend to dig into the backing and hold it lightly so it will slip in your hand before pulling any yarn. I had a little trouble getting the feel of it at first, but now use this method on many types of material to follow rows. It will open the rows and define them so the row knife will follow them better. I normally make as many seams as I can and then go home to let them set over night. Some seams require a certain amount of stretching before doing them in order to keep them from moving too much during the final stretch. For instance, say you have one larger room and two other rooms that seam onto this room in doorways. You can seam one of the doorways prior to stretching, but the second must wait until the section of carpet in the larger room is stretched past the door so you don't pull off the second doorway during stretching. (The wording of this explanation seems clear as mud to me so it may not make sense to you. If not, let me know and I'll try to clear it up.) As you are applying the sealer, don't get in a hurry. You want it to follow the edge of the backing where you cut it and just catch the bottom of the yarn. This glues the yarn back into the backing to help keep it from fraying or unraveling. It shrinks as it dries so, if you get it up on the yarn too much, it pulls the yarn down into the seam as it shrinks and makes an ugly seam. Over all, it sounds to me as if you have a pretty good handle on it.
 
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Old 03-19-07, 02:42 PM
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I have tried making some cuts with scissors and I would agree they are easier to use than the knife. My knife is a cheap one and would be good for rough cuts anyway.
I think I understand what you are saying about one doorway possibly pulling off. If I make all the seams and then stretch the big room first then one small room the room that is last to stretch would be the one that might pull off, is that how it works?
Another question I have is what is the purpose behind letting the seams set overnight?
Also about the seam sealer do you apply that with the squeeze bottle only or should I work it in with a small brush?
There is another can of worms I will be opening after the floor is carpeted, that would be the stairway and landing. I have seen the method cutting a piece of carpet for each step and using tack strip on the outside edges of the step with pad in between the tack strip. This method (if I understand correctly) relies on tucking each piece behind the piece below it in order to hold it in place on the front of the step. That does not seem like it would be secured enough on the front and the carpet might bulge out. Maybe I’m missing something. Would you have any recommendations for carpeting a stairway? I have 11- 36 in. wide steps between walls and a landing at the bottom. I did read what you had to say about the problem thorn801 was having and determined I have the “water fall” type steps.
I want to thank you again for help I know it is going to make a huge difference in how this project turns out.
 
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Old 03-19-07, 05:24 PM
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I let the seams set over night to help minimize seam peaking. Now I suppose the next question is, what's that? Take a dish towel, grab hold of the ends of it, and stretch it. While doing so, observe what the edges you do not have a hold of do. The edges will try to curl in on themselves. I can't explain the physics involved, I just know that material does that. In the process of stretching in the carpet, it's held down around the edges by tack strip. But, where the seams are, the only thing holding it is the seam tape and, in the stretching process, the seam edges will try to curl in on themselves. The seam tape only lets it go so far which produces a peak in the seam. I minimize this effect in a number of ways. First of all, I try to place my seams so the dominant light in the room runs the length of the seam instead of across it. If the dominant light runs across the seam, it causes a shadow on the side of the seam away from the light source. I can't always pull that off because seams need to be as far out of traffic areas a possible and that's a larger consideration than the light source. Secondly, I use six inch tape on all my seams. This spreads the tension over a wider area and, instead of a sharp, more noticeable peak, I get a more gradual, rounded one. Next, and the answer to your question, I let the seams cool and dry before stretching them. The iron is pretty hot as a seam is being run and, as you move your seam weight, you'll feel moisture on the top of the carpet. This is caused by condensation, sort of like a cold glass of water on a hot day gets water running down the side of it. The moisture you feel on top of the carpet is minor compared to what is underneath it. As long as the seam tape is wet, it is fairly soft and pliable. But, once it dries, it tends to be fairly stiff and hard. If you stretch the carpet while the tape is still wet and the seam peaks in that condition, it will never lay back down and behave itself because you've molded it into that shape. It will dry peaked and then will always want to be that shape. But, if you let it dry flat. the peak will not only be far less pronounced, but, with time and traffic, it will lay down and behave itself because it dried flat and it wants to stay that way. There are other techniques to minimizing seam peaking, but this should answer the question. In so far as the seam order, I think you understand. A very important factor in a good looking install is having all the doorways flat and tight. You can seam on the fill in the big room and one of the doorways, but, depending on how the job lays out, you'll probably get a better result doing the second doorway after stretching the larger room across the face of the doorway. Not being clear on the layout, this may not be entirely accurate. You can apply a small bead of seam sealer to the edge of the cut backing with the tip on the bottle, just be careful to not over apply. Since this is a new thing for you, no one will be impressed with speed. Take your time and be careful. It's tedious, but necessary. As to the steps, lets cross that bridge when we get there.
 
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Old 03-20-07, 01:46 PM
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Take a pocket comb or a knitting needle, or awl and run a row, then use a Crain cushionback cutter to follow the row. I also have a cheap plastic Roberts with a bottom guide, that works pretty good.

I would seam seal with hotmelt glue.
 
 

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