Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Carpet Stretching

   Power Stretcher


The “wall to wall power stretcher” is another carpet stretching tool that came about due to changes in the manufacturing process of carpeting. The widths that carpets came in advanced from the size of a stairway runner up to 9 foot, then12 foot, and even 15 feet wide.  These wider carpets brought about the new synthetic fibers and backings.  They were much stiffer and the “knee kicker stretcher”  that my Grandfather used could no longer provide a permanent install. However it still has a legitimate place in a proper install, but not all of the stretching. For example steps and closets can be done with just a knee kicker.

NOTE: Many installers persist in only using a “knee kicker” to fasten all four walls of a room. It can get the carpet flat, but it will not provide a permanent install, no matter what they might promise you.  One of  my specialties if re-doing wrinkled improperly installed carpets.  Berber carper repairs are very tricky to stretch just right. If a power stretcher is used in the original install the chances are the carpet will remain flat for it’s life. Use your intuition when shopping or hiring a service person, and the results will turn out better for you.  Listen carefully and take notes if you have to.

                                                                                Knee Kicker


Having to sew by hand, carpeting the width of a stairway runner, which has  a pattern on it. The strips had to be assembled until it they fit a large living room.  Seventy years ago my Grandfather did just that.  The new wide carpets saved a lot of work time.


Actually my father gradually taught me how to get the “feel” for stretching carpets. Each carpet is different. Not only that, but as the rooms get bigger the stretching requires more pressure. Care must be taken so the the stretching pressure applied is kept even. Too much or too little creates wrinkles instead of removing them.  My dad would call me over to where he was stretching the carpet and pump the crank and then we would switch places and I would try it for a few stretches.

One day dad says to me “Come here, now you do it” This was a bedroom install of a cotton carpet. A type of carpet I have not seen in 20 years. It is soft and very flexible. Well, dad left the room and I was on my own. I was going to show him how great I could do it! I pumped that stretcher crank in each spot three or four times until it was really, really, tight. Boy was I doing a good job. That stuff just kept giving and giving and giving. I got it to have about three inches of excess. When I was about half done with the job dad came in to check on me.  His eyes popped wide open. His words were something like this “Holly Mackerel what are you doing”!  Stop! ,You’re going to rip it in half” I think he actually laughed a sigh of relief. He then patiently explained that each carpet has ‘its own feel. He then showed me the proper pressure and finished the room.   He kept a close eye on me the next time I was given the stretcher to use. We had a good laugh about it later and on many occasions. If you are thinking about carpet repair in Oakland Michigan, call on the experts.


From Carpet Stitching to Carpet Gluing

                                                           Example of a stitching “pattern”
   Throughout the years the techniques for carpet seaming and repairing split seams have changed drastically. Fifty years ago we needed to hand sew seams in carpeting. It was done from the back side with the carpet turned face down. We stitched left to right, and then right to left until it looked something  like a “baseball stitch” It wasn’t exactly the same baseball pattern, but acted as a good image to help people understand what stitches looked like. The pattern was a series of x’s down the carpet backings underside where it could not be seen from the top.
   As if hand seaming wasn’t a slow enough process, if we needed to put a patch into a  damaged  area we used a large curved needle and stitched from the carpets top side. This was done much like a surgeon stitching up wounds. To do  the simplest of carpet stain  patching repairs required even greater skill then basic seaming.
   As the 1960’s rolled in newer carpet repair technology in the manufacturing of carpeting forced the needle and thread techniques  into oblivion. Changes in carpeting backings  to synthetic materials demanded a new way to make a seam and also a new way to stretch them. The new  seaming/patching tool is called a “carpet seaming iron” and the new stretching tool is the “power stretcher”.  I’ll address stretching in another post


   It took a decade to perfect the iron and its’ accompanying hot melt tape. Temperature controls were added, a heat shield, heavy duty electrical cords, a directional cord outlet from the iron itself,etc. The tape eventually came with a silicone backing to keep it from sticking to the pad when the carpet was stretched especially when the power carpet stretching was used. The tape  also needed just the right amount of wax added in it by its manufacturer. Too little an amount of glue and it would not hold tight when stretched. It now comes in grades of thickness and with or without grooves.   A seam line is cut from the carpets backside on the adjoining pieces. The carpet is then laid flat with the seam pushed together. The tape is unrolled under the seams joining line. The hot iron is  placed on the tape and moved across it when it can be pushed as though sliding through thick butter on a plate.  In five minutes a typical bedroom doorway can be hot melted after all the prep work. A temporary weight is placed on it for a minute or two, and ten minutes later it can be power stretched.  The hot melt iron technique works well on any kind of patch that is large enough to fit it in the cut open area, such as an iron carpet burn repair. 
   Power stretching was another necessary innovation when the carpet backs became synthetic, and the carpet widths changed from narrow  runners to 9, 12, and 15 foot widths. Stretching will be discussed at a later time.

Carpet Repair Skills for Seams that are Splitting



Growing up most of us have heard the phrase from our parents or teachers at school “you never know in life where you might use or need these skills or lessons that you are learning”.  For example algebra or history or maybe even “how to stitch up a carpet”

Sewing carpets by hand is becoming a lost art.  It may actually be a lost art in a practical sense.  However besides using it in my trade to repair split seams I found another unusual application for hand sewing. One of these alternate uses for seaming was to create creatures for motion pictures such as ” The Galaxy Invader” , or  “”.  Star Trek was always a favorite of mine and I even made an amateur movie of it for fun.

Contact Cosentino Carpet Repair to repair your split seams, or for any other carpet repair needs.

Carpet Repair Alternate Ideas


 Although I have a premier 3rd generation carpet repair business in Macomb Michigan, this blog will often divert in thoughts to show how skills that I learned as a youngster were applied to other goals. Therefore you will be introduced to old time techniques and new techniques in carpet repair, along with unusual applications that I have made with them. If you are looking for Carpet Repair in Macomb Michigan, be sure to give a call. Everything that we learn in life is often useful in ways that we would never expect.  So let’s begin.