The abiding axiom of our industry is that a carpet, no matter what the quality, is only as good as its installation.What should facilities professionals know to ensure a carpet installation is free of snafus? Consider four fundamental factors – all of which work hand-in-hand:Specify the right product for the right application.Carefully coordinate the scheduling of the installation in the project.Hire a qualified, experienced, and competent installer.Pre-plan and implement a consistent ongoing maintenance program.In order to specify the right product for the application, actively involve your carpet rep as you weigh the choices. Discuss the uses and activities of the space where the carpet is being installed. What is the level of traffic? What is the likelihood of spills? If you’re renovating, what carpet or floorcovering was used previously? What problems occurred that should be avoided this time around?Timing truly is everything, especially for the installation of the carpet. It requires the general contractor to carefully coordinate a schedule so that other trades preceding it are completed, and yet it does not hold up the delivery of other interior furnishings.Take note: In new construction, if the slab and foundation have not had time to cure sufficiently, there may still be a high level of alkalinity and moisture, which can affect a carpet installation. It’s best to get a “gant” (project flow) chart from the general contractor before the project proceeds and discuss it with the installer. It’s the best way to be sure the optimum time has been slotted and that you’re not headed into a collision course with other trades or that the site is not properly prepared.You have a right to see and verify the installer’s certification; do not settle for anything less than an experienced and competent commercial installer. Sadly, there is a shortage of qualified installers. The carpet industry is addressing this critical need for properly trained installers head-on with a major educational initiative – the Master Craftsman Certification program, which is being offered at no cost to the customer. This year alone, 450 qualified installers have been added to the labor pool.Finally, implement and follow a pre-planned maintenance program. You’ve made a significant investment. Protect it with proper care, and plan for it in advance. Ignoring daily vacuum needs can put a carpet’s lifespan at risk, especially since it hides soil so well. Even before the project is completed, interview commercial cleaning companies. True professionals are willing to test clean a carpet sample, and that’s something you should request. The service should be able to provide spot cleaning, interim, and restorative treatment. They also should provide specific recommendations for your installation, including placement of walk-off mats to protect the most vulnerable areas.Sam Bracken is vice president of marketing at The Mohawk Group (www.mohawkgroup.com), Atlanta.