Carpet Problems: All About Carpet Buckling and Wrinkling

Carpet buckling occurs when a carpet loses its stretch and wrinkles develop. It can happen because of poor latexing, improper stretching, a soft pad, excess humidity, improper cleaning, or rolling furniture or equipment. Puckers around doorways and wrinkles in the traffic areas are sure signs of buckling.

Poor Latexing

Just as poor latexing leads to weak tuft bind, it can cause a carpet to lose its stretch. Brittle, powdery, or thin latex will make a carpet too flexible and make it impossible to lay tight. If the latex application is not strong enough to bind the primary and secondary backings together, the carpet delaminates. Air gets trapped between the two layers and you’ll see bubbles and buckles. When this happens along a seam, the seam opens up. You can stick your fingers between the two backings. When it happens in the center of the room, the carpet will bunch up when you vacuum. You can easily lift the carpet several inches from the floor.

Improper Stretching

A carpet is supposed to be stretched tight by using a power stretcher. Some installers try to save time and use only a knee kicker to attach the carpet to the tackstrip. This is the main reason carpets buckle. Emptying the rooms and restretching the carpet with a power stretcher removes the wrinkles. However, restretching can also change the location of cut-out areas like floor vents and doorways. These areas may need to be patched. Seams may also have to be remade. You’re better off making sure the carpet is installed to industry standards the first time.

Soft Pad

A soft pad may feel luxurious to you, but it is not good for the carpet. A soft pad allows an otherwise well-made and correctly installed carpet to flex and stretch too much. The carpet industry, working with the Carpet Cushion Council, has established minimum pad-thickness and density requirements for various types of carpet. Few retailers will sell you a too-soft cushion, but you need to know that the wrong underlayment creates problems.

Likewise, cushions dry out with age, especially rubber waffle cushions. When a pad turns to powder, the carpet loses its support and the carpet relaxes, buckles, and wrinkles.

Excess Moisture

High humidity is bad for many types of floors. Carpets absorb excess moisture and relax, forming wrinkles. If the source of humidity is temporary, like immediately after carpet cleaning, the buckling should correct itself. If you live in an area with a lot of humidity, you’ll need a dehumidifier to maintain a stable indoor environment.

Flooding or over-wetting from cleaning can make the carpet delaminate. Replacement is the only solution.

Rolling Furniture

People don’t realize it, but rolling a lot of furniture over carpet causes buckling. Heavy pieces with small wheels are bad for carpet. Using a wheelchair over a period of time can also create buckles. If you know the carpet will be subjected to wheeled use, discuss this with your retailer. The right pad for these conditions will prevent buckling and wrinkling.

To learn more about carpet buying, carpet care, carpet styles, carpet warranties and more, please subscribe to this blog and check out my book, All About Carpets: Everything You Need to Know.

Who is Glenn Revere?

Glenn Revere has been a carpet expert since 1973. He’s a certified flooring inspector and the author of All About Carpets, the only book written to protect and inform you about your carpet choices, from carpet buying and carpet warranties to carpet care and maintenance. You can find him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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