A New Foundation for Commercial Carpet

May 19, 2004
Project: Genesse District Library, MichiganLibrary specification requires special attention. Try explaining otherwise to Alyce Riemenschneider, award-winning principal designer for Riemenschneider Designs Associates Inc., which specializes in library specification. With over 750,000 square feet of designed library space, out of 5 million square feet of total completed projects, and as a member of both the American Library Association and the Michigan Library Association, Riemenschneider understands the unique process and protocol associated with library design.According to Riemenschneider, library design has multiple concerns; one being accountability. The designer is answerable to many different groups, including review committees, administrators, and even taxpayers. “Everyone who will ever use the library is essentially my client and must be taken into account,” she states.A further complication of library specification is one of time. Viewed as a public resource, restricted access to library or the extended closure of the facility can become a significant issue for the designer. Project management can often limit problems, but time over-runs resulting from defective products can easily send a project over budget. This is especially true in case of carpet specification.For one project in particular, the Genesse District Library renovation, Riemenschneider decided carpet flooring would be the ideal floorcovering due to its sound absorption properties. Often, the first sensory impression is one of a quiet place, an advantage which carpeting offers over other floor systems. Furthermore, she imagined that patterned broadloom carpet would offer an opportunity to specify intricate designs that could contribute to the overall aesthetic direction of the facility.After being disappointed too many times with “uninstallable” carpets due to pattern match problems, Riemenschneider had given up specifying patterned broadloom carpet. In one particularly troubling case, manufacturing errors and a poor installation culminated in a job that took over one year and $10,000 in non-billable hours to complete, an expense few designers can afford. “And libraries are a small community where word of mouth references are very important,” adds Riemenschneider.“Over the years, I have seen a number of handsome carpets that were plagued with manufacturing errors,” said Riemenschneider. “I simply pulled the product (lineal patterned carpets) off the shelves as an option.” The large, open expanses often found in libraries embarrassingly reveal lineal design and pattern match flaws. In addition, pattern match flaws may be dangerous. When framed against uniformly spaced, long rows of shelving, variances can stimulate instances of vertigo in the elderly. “For these reasons, I avoided lineal pattern designs,” said Riemenschneider.Asking for the opportunity to provide what other mill representatives often pledged but rarely delivered, Monterey representative Christian Trost personally flew to Flint, Michigan, for the installation. “I had heard about PatternlokTM and asked Christian about it,” said Riemenschneider. “He said it was one of Monterey’s secrets for straight patterns.”Patternlok represents a new level of technology in carpet foundations specifically engineered to minimize pattern alignment problems in even the most detailed commercial carpets. Guaranteed to have a minimal amount of bow and skew (1/2 inch or less across the 12 foot width), Patternlok allows the carpet to do exactly what the designer intended … lay down straight.The carpet specified for the Genesse District Library was a Monterey Presidio, custom charcoal gray color in a multi-level loop featuring the Patternlok carpet foundation system. Performing as promised, the carpet rolled out straight. Yet that was not the end of the project, only the beginning of the installation phase. The four-day Genesse installation included the removal of the old carpet, floor preparation, 1500 yards of new carpet install, and custom border work. “Essential to any installation is proper floor preparation; any short cuts taken here are guaranteed to up later,” states John Lukasik, owner of the Carpet Workroom, specializing in commercial projects. Located in Novi, MI, and with over 450,000 yards of carpet installed every year, Lukasik notes that you are only as good as your last job.“The Genesse project was beautiful from the start with the patterns matching,” said Lukasik. “Everyone was pleased, and you could walk away from the project with pride.” The installation of carpets that don’t contain Patternlok do not always go this well. Depending upon the severity of the pattern match problems with inferior products, additional labor costs, excess waste of materials, or even the replacement of the carpet may be the result. “On the job of this size, it would’ve added one or two days to the installation,” stated Lukasik. “Prior to this project and my experience with Patternlok, I simply would not have specified a lineal patterned carpet,” said Riemenschneider. “The secret to the success of the Flint Genesse project is simple; a quality carpet with a quality backing, and a quality installation.”

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