Rippled Carpet


It is not uncommon to see rippled carpet. It's most often, tufted carpet, installed over pad and secured by tack strip. Often this, rippled carpet, is from not being installed tight enough.


The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends, in their carpet installation manual, that carpet is stretched 1 to 1.5% of the length.

It’s also recommended that carpet be allowed to “acclimatize” during cold weather, when being installed . Cold carpet can expand after warming up, from outside. This expansion should happen before the carpet is installed. This can mean, letting the carpet lay in the room for several hours to a day, to adjust to the conditions, before installation.


Carpet Mills and the CRI want a power stretcher used, to install carpet. A power stretcher has a large head with pins, that penetrate into  the face of the carpet, with a handle that is pushed down, providing leverage to stretch the carpet.

Often, knee kickers are used, without power stretchers.

The carpet mills and CRI disapprove.

With every forward “kick,” of the knee kicker, comes an equal and opposite, shotgun, back kick. This shotgun reaction can cause some stretch to be lost before being attached to the tack strip nails. The idea is to have an even pressure applied, by a power stretcher, with no loss of stretch, when the carpet is attached to the tack strip. The power stretcher, often, does better at getting 1 to 1.5% stretch, than a knee kicker - depends who's using it :) and is not so violent an impact on the stretching point.

The kicker is considered to be a tool to “place” the carpet onto the tacks, after the power stretcher has done its work.

Often, carpet retailers give a one year guarantee against carpet rippling. If it does ripple, during the 1 year guarantee, the installer comes back and “kicks” out the ripples. This can last for several months, but the ripples, may, return. 


Power stretchers can make life easier for the installer. I have met installers who have bad knees, sore hips and kidney problems from years of  "kicking" carpet.  


Quite often, homeowners would call my company 12 – 14 months after installation of new carpet, to have ripples removed, because the warrantee, given by the company they purchased the carpet from, had expired . They paid us hundreds of dollars for this service that, often, would not have been needed if the carpet was installed tight enough, originally.


Sometimes, after hot water extraction cleaning, a carpet will ripple up. This can be from filler, in the latex cement that holds the carpet backing together, swelling up from moisture absorption. Sometimes calcium carbonate filler does this. Since the carpet has gotten bigger, due to the swollen backing, it develops ripples. In 29 years of cleaning carpet, I have never seen a carpet, rippled from cleaning, not flatten out, when dry.

When this happens, the cleaner should tell the customer to wait a few days and it will flatten out. Tell them, if it doesn’t flatten out, you will stretch it for them. I have NEVER had to do this.

If the carpet was already rippled, before cleaning, these ripples will not go away!

It’s time for a re stretch job.


              MAKE MONEY!


             Dennis Klager

             IICRC Instructor




Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager