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Carpet Roll-Crush

Carpet roll-crush generates many complaints and unhappy consumers. Most dealers and installers are well versed in the response to this complaint.

Carpet roll-crush to some degree is in every roll of carpet that is ordered. It cannot be prevented. As a percentage of all carpet bought and installed, roll-crush does not occur frequently as a problem. However, when it does it can cause an entirely unnecessary and unwarranted reinstallation headache. Normally, roll-crush will dissipate on its own with normal use and frequent vacuuming.

Types and Examples of
Carpet Roll-Crush

( Click on image for larger photo )
Examples of various types of carpet roll-crush in both commercial and residential installations. Many times roll-crush is confused with color sidematch, because of their similar appearances.

What is Roll-Crush?

Roll-crush is usually a temporary flattening of the carpet pile. It causes distortion in the perceived carpet’s color, texture and pile height. Roll-crush marks are characterized by widthwise lines that appear darker when viewed from one direction, and then appear lighter when viewed from the opposite direction. Many times universal roll-crush can appear as a different color than the rest of the carpet, causing more than one livid consumer.

All carpet warrantees specifically state that claims will not be considered for roll-crush, as this is not a manufacturing defect. Roll-crush usually occurs after the carpet is manufactured, and is inherit to transit, storage and handling processes.

Types and Causes of Roll-Crush

Weight Crushing. After a carpet is finished in manufacturing it is rolled over a dense paper tube used for shipment, storage and handling. Roll-crush usually occurs in areas of the pile yarn at the bottom of the roll that have flattened because of the weight of the carpet roll.

The crush marks appear usually as one or more widthwise bands in varing length and width. Most often these crush or bent fiber areas repeat at increasing or decreacing intervals, depending on from which end of the roll it is observed. Spacing between the crush bands are greater on the outer part of the roll and become shorter and thiner while progressing towards the center paper core tube. If the carpet rolls are stacked too high in storage or shipment this will increase the effect. It also should be noted that too long of a storage time can aggravate all types of carpet roll-crush.

After installation a carpet seam can magnify the effect and give the appearance of a color or sidematch problem with an out-of-sync rippling effect. This sidematch rippling of dark and light areas appear when the two carpet panels are seamed together in an unavoidable mismatch of leaning and bend carpet fibers.

Rolling Compression. Besides roll-crush the nap gets compressed when rolled up prior to shipping. This occurs in all carpet and rugs that are rolled. In some pile construction this alone can appear as a sidematch problem or a general lack of uniformity when installed. Some types of carpet construction will exhibit this more than others. The concerns that do arise are most frequently seen in the FHA specified 24-ounce tufted cut pile in minimal installations. Other types of denser fiber construction will resist and show roll crushing much less. The denser the carpet fiber the more resistance each fiber will give to the development of an actual or perceived roll-crush problem.

Pole Marking. During handling, a metal pole attached to a forklift is inserted into the carpet roll’s core paper tube to lift and move the carpet rolls. At times, a supported pole spindle is inserted into the roll core for storage and future cuttings. These can cause additional settling of the compressed fibers along the top half of the carpet roll. When unrolled this will appear as denser widthwise lines known as pole marks in the carpet pile.

Crushing similar to pole marks can occur when multiple rolls of carpet are stacked one on another. These "pole marks" are actually cause by too much carpet weight crushing and bending pile fibers above and below the dense paper tube in the carpet roll's core.

Tie Marks. Single narrow compression lines in the carpet pile that run lengthwise are caused by the string (cord) tried around the carpet roll edges to keep it from unrolling. Usually these are never noticed or become an issue except in some carpets more prone to crushing.

Row Breaking. When a roll of carpet is bent for handling on a job site, additional crushing can result. This happens when the ends of the carpet roll are bent or “broke” upon themselves in order to insert a twelve foot roll of carpet into an eight foot elevator for transporting. This can increase the opportunity of additional roll-crush to appear.

Crush Memory. Sustained compression and crushing can impart a low level nap-directional memory into synthetic fibers, such as nylon. This type of acquired “crush memory” usually requires professional servicing to erase and then rejuvenate the original “nap memory” in the fibers.

Attached Pad. In carpet glue-down installation where there is an attached pad to the carpet’s backing and has been rolled, an exaggerated to extreme roll-crush can occur. This may almost be considered a carpet pile reversal. A “crush memory” can be imparted into the carpet’s construction that is very hard to reverse. Aggressive or repeated correctional methods are usually required for elimination when this transpires. Even many professionals don’t know how to correct this.

Correction of Carpet Roll-Crush

Time. Simple roll-crush is corrected in most cases by allowing the freshly installed carpet to “blossom” as it adjusts to ambient conditions. The best way to correct roll-crush is to be patient with your new carpet, for it is a textile product with normal inherit proclivities. As a wrinkled garment on a clothes hanger will most often relax, roll-crush carpet will usually recover with time and normal use. Common advice from dealers is to

  1. vacuum the carpet;
  2. increase the relative humidity in the room to 50% or more, and;
  3. allow several weeks in humid conditions and slightly longer in low humidity conditions for the pile to recover.

Vacuuming. Regular vacuuming and grooming with a carpet rake from the four compass directions will shorten the carpet’s needed adjustment time. Avoid vacuuming the same direction every time. This should take no more than a few weeks or months at most. The normal rule-of-thumb in printed industry publications is that roll-crush will usually disappear within six (6) months with regular vacuuming and the introduction of normal humidity.

Pile Lifting. Pile lifting is a process usually associated with restorative cleaning. It is used to lift crushed and matted nap to allow for a more thorough cleaning. For new carpet a pile lifter will raise generally crushed nap to give it a more uniform appearance. Normally this would and should be performed by or commissioned by the dealer or carpet mill using trained technicians. This is an aggressive type of vacuuming and NOT advisable for some types of fibers or carpet construction. A pile lifter is a heavy duty industrial machine that could jeopardize the carpet warranty if used inappropriately by a novice – it could even cause permanent carpet damage!

Steam Cleaning. Where carpet roll-crush is more severe or enduring, hot-water extraction (commonly known as steam-cleaning) will most likely correct the problem quickly. However, all carpet warranties’ requirements should be observed. The carpet dealer should be consulted if this action is considered. Let the professionals do it!

Steaming. When the most obstinate cases of roll-crush occur, a trained professional should be called in for steaming. This should not be undertaken by a novice. High heat is used during several aspects of carpet manufacturing, but can also cause permanent damage to the carpet dyes or construction when used improperly, especially involving actual live wet steam. Allow the experts to apply this correction. Many times, the carpet dealer or carpet mill will extend this service as a consumer courtesy, especially if there is a sizable amount of carpet involved.

Roll-Crush is inherent in all carpet to some degree, and is mostly unavoidable. A real problem is unusual. A severe problem is rare. A non-correctable roll-crush in carpet occurs only, if ever, in a product never designed for normal use or cleaning. But as always, never say never!

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