Why does my carpet buckle?

I am asked all the time about why carpet buckles or ripples a few years after it is installed. Several things can cause buckling, the wrong cushion, moving furniture or high humidity. However, it is my observation that improper installation is the number one cause of carpet buckling in our area.

Proper installation can remedy carpet buckling before it starts. Carpet buckling is usually caused by swelling of the carpet structure due to the effect of moisture on a carpet structure component, that component being "latex". It is this substance which is used to bond the various elements of the carpet structure. This material is not truly "latex", as in rubber, but is actually an emulsion of styrene-butadiene rubber with a powdered filler, calcium carbonate. To see where the situation develops lets take a closer look at the carpet layers. After tufting and dyeing are completed it is time to attach a fabric backing or a finish back coating. If the carpet receives only a second latex coating and not a fabric secondary backing it is said to have a "unitary backing". Two applications of the styrene-butadiene rubber/filler emulsion are used. The first is designed to encapsulate and penetrate the yarn bundle and adhere it to the primary backing sufficiently to resist being dislodged by traffic. The second application is a stiffer emulsion and the function of this coat is to act as either a secondary backing, as in unitary backed goods, or to bond the fabric secondary backing to the primary backing and face yarns. The rippling/buckling which we are discussing here is caused by the "growth" of the carpet due to hydraulic pressure on the calcium carbonate portion of the latex emulsion. While this material, which is ground marble or limestone, would seem to be quite inert and not subject to absorption and subsequent swelling it is possible for a sufficient amount of water to penetrate into the SBR/filler emulsion to result in a swelling of the backing and the carpet to which it is attached. This is similar to the expansion which occurs when a dry cellulose sponge it placed in water. Only a small amount of growth is necessary for this rippling/ buckling to occur.

Now your question may be why do I want my carpet cleaned with hot water extraction if it is going to cause buckling? The answer is that all three major manufacturers of carpet in the U.S. require hot water extraction cleaning to maintain their textile. Buckling is merely a characteristic of a tufted carpet when exposed to excess moisture, UNLESS THIS GROWTH IS IN SOMEWAY RESTRICTED! This is where proper installation is key! Proper installation requires that all stretch-in installations be performed using a power stretcher and a bias-stretch system. With a recommended stretch of 1 - 1 1/2% the carpet will be sufficiently restricted from growth that the rippling/buckling cannot occur.  Please call us if you have any questions on how we may assist you in repairing carpet buckles.  936-582-4227

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