Carpet pattern matching seems like a no-brainer, a patterned carpet should match. At least this is the expectation of the end-user when they purchase a carpet. Why shouldn’t carpet match, they purchased wallpaper and it matched. Sometimes carpet pattern matching may be expected and it just isn’t going to happen no matter how good the carpet installer is. Some patterns are random patterns, an example of this would be many sculptures that have an overprint and printed saxony. A salesperson needs to be aware of carpet pattern matching capabilities so that this information can be passed on to the consumer in advance of the installation.
When an installer bids a job or is engaged to install it, he needs to take into consideration that a carpet pattern matching will require more time and skill to install than a plain styled carpet. If an installer has bid a job without obtaining product information in advance he or she is not doing his or her job. At the same time, a dealer that fails to provide product information to an installer is also not doing his or her job. A mutual understanding as to what is involved with the carpet pattern matching expectations of the consumer, guarantees and additional charges is important to all concerned and may mean the difference between success and failure.
When a carpet is manufactured it goes through many processes such as tufting, dyeing, printing and application of the finished backing. During any one or more of these processes the pattern may end up wider, narrower or out of shape making carpet pattern matching difficult at best. Because of these manufacturing peculiarities and the fact that they have no way of knowing the work of each installer, many manufacturers print on sample labels and in product literature that carpet pattern matching cannot be guaranteed.
It is a fair expectation for the carpet installer to adjust the pattern to obtain a match as long as the distortion does not exceed manufacturing tolerance and the tolerance is reasonable. When the installer runs into a carpet pattern matching situation, he should make sure that the pattern falls within the manufacturing tolerance of the product before cutting the carpet. During some installations, after one or more rolls have been cut into, the pattern is found to be running off excessively in the new roll. In this situation the manufacturer must be contacted before proceeding with installing the problem carpet. Installer and dealers often make the claim that it was mandatory that the job be completed as the consumer had to move in and the manufacturer was closed. The big question here, if you knew that the job or part of the job would require later replacement, why did you fully-adhere that section of the carpet through gluing or stretching? In the rare situation where there is absolutely no choice but to have the carpet in and replace later, it is the responsibility of the dealer to minimize what the replacement material and labor expense is going to be. An installer and dealer must always be aware that proceeding without the manufacturer being consulted, he is assuming financial liability that would rightfully belong to others.
Most carpet pattern matching can occur with good success but may require a lot more time. Often on carpet pattern matching problems we find that the work was performed by an installer whom specializes in residential work and has little experience with commercial products and large installations.
Carpet Pattern Matching Hints
- Whenever possible, (some manufacturers state “always”) “Row Cut” the carpet.
- Always “Dry lay” all pieces prior to starting the glue spread or hot melt process.
- Arrange all pieces to your best advantage thereby working the closest patterns together
- An easy way to determine which cuts will match best is to count 30 patterns and compare the measurements to determine sequence.
- Stretch the short pattern into register with the long pattern.
- Match and work patterns from the center towards the end.
- Do not mix dye lots as this can adversely affect the pattern match
Installation Tip: A very old and very good tool to assist in the matching of a pattern is called “The Deadman” To make a deadman take a 2″ x 12″ x 4′ board and nail multiple rows rows of tackless strip to one side. The deadman is placed with the tackless strip pressed into the carpet. An installer can then stretch off the deadman. A handle can be attached to it. Wrap with a piece of carpet for carrying and storage.
Carpet Pattern Matching Sidematch Conditions
- Incorrect Pattern Definition: Pattern specifications not designed correctly for the gauge of machine.
- Off Pattern: Pattern Changes in Dimension: High/Low loop or Cut/Loop. This manufacturing claim is caused by an error in equipment when reading the computer or film and/or clutch failure on the tufting machine
- Pattern Not Matched: Through visual inspection and measurements you should be able to determine if the pattern could have been matched. Was enough carpet available to match the carpet? What was the consumer told? These are questions you will need to answer to determine who is at fault.
Printed Sculpture Carpet Pattern Matching
The carpet is tufted with a highly visible sculptured pattern that repeats and a random dye overprint that does not repeat with the sculptured pattern. With these carpets this is a characteristic of the production process and not a manufacturing defect.
With this style of carpet you cannot match both the sculptured pattern and the dye overprint and is necessary to reduce seam visibility by joining the panels at either the sculptured pattern or by “monkey matching” the overprint pattern and allowing the sculptured pattern to fall wherever it may. Since both the pattern and print cannot be aligned seams may be visible and they may be more visible from standing in one location than they are from another. With most carpets of this style the most acceptable appearance will be obtained by “monkey matching” the color pattern. Since it is usually impossible for the installer to fully match both patterns, the salesperson needs to inform the consumer that the seams may be visible and must also order enough extra carpet for the match or “monkey match”.
Bowed, Skewed and Elongated Carpet Pattern Matching
Bowed Pattern: The pattern has an arc in it due to greater tension in the center of the carpet than at the sides. Speed of tenter was running too fast and this resulted in the carpet dragging on the inside rollers while the carpet was drying. It should be determined before installation if the bow can be stretched out. If a bowed carpet is installed without the manufacturer authorization it will likely become an installation complaint.
Skewed Pattern: The pattern is on a diagonal. Pattern on one side of the tenter chain running at a different speed than the other can cause nap skew. As with bow, make sure it can be stretched out before installation so that it doesn’t become an installation problem.
Pattern Elongation: Pattern “mismatch” in integrated pattern carpets is called pattern elongation.
It is caused by the patterns on one side of a seam being slightly longer than on the other so that the patterns appear to grow or elongate.
- Pattern elongation is figured as follows.
- Count a set number of patterns such as 20.
- Measure the length of the number of patterns counted.
- Repeat the procedure on all cuts if uninstalled or on the joined panels if installed.
- Compare the measurements.
No manufacturer guarantees carpet pattern matching so a claim may be declined unless severe and, the manufacture instructed the installer or dealer to go ahead with the installation.
Drop Match: A pattern in printed, high-low, cut-loop, or figured woven carpet, which repeats diagonally. Each corresponding pattern element drops down a certain distance, usually a half pattern repeat in length, instead of simply repeating horizontally across the width as in set patch.
Monkey Match: When an exact pattern match can not be obtained, a monkey match is made by matching the design to give the appearance of a match.
Random Match: A random match does not have a repeat, the design is applied in more of a hit-or-miss arrangement.
Register: Exact matching into positions the pattern or lines of the abutting panels of carpet
Set Match: A set match is a design that repeats at regular intervals on the same level across the width of the carpet
To find a Certified Carpet Installer or to learn more about carpet installation or for carpet installation training and certification, visit the CFI – Certified Floorcovering Installers website.
I’m trying to purchase carpet that has a 36 pattern repeat. The store is claiming I will have 27% to 36% waste. Is that normal?
That amount of waste seems like a lot though it may actually be required. A 36″ pattern match is a large pattern. Depending upon the room sizes and the layout of the rooms it may actually be required. The dealer should be able to show you a drawing of how the carpet is to be laid out and why this much waste is necessary.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A CARPET IS NOT MATCHED. THE Carpet has a pattern match of 4.5″ W X 3.5″ L and the installer says it is a side-to-side variance as the carpet looks like 2 colors I checked for reverse pile and it all runs the same. If the carpet was not lined up properly would it not show up like 2 different shades .? Thanks
Terry Weinheimer says
Ray, when a pattern is not matched it can give the appearance of a shade or color sidematch variation. That being said, you can have both a shade or color sidematch variation and a pattern match concern at joined panels. There can also be a texture variation that adds to a sidematch concern. Without bein onsite, I cannot tell you the cause or causes of a specific sidematch installation concern.
julia harland says
should a carpet fitter take into account the fact that your house walls are not straight when fitting a patterned carpet and not just line up with the longest wall
Terry Weinheimer says
When a patterned carpet it is preferable that the carpet be installed in such a way that the pattern runs off in the least apparent areas. That said, this is not always possible and the fitter (installer) must use their best judgment.
When a person purchase carpet and they know their walls are not straight, they need to either purchase a carpet without a pattern or accept the fact that the pattern will run off.