You’ve probably seen it but don’t know the word for it: carpet which gets bunched up and wrinkled, leaving pockets of air in what’s otherwise a smooth surface. When carpet separates from the backing, commonly known as delamination, it can cause a variety of problems. At the simplest levels, the carpet can pose a minor hazard to people walking on it, but more important, delaminating carpet will progressively get worse until large parts of the carpet are no longer attached. Also, carpet that delaminates to begin with indicates that there’s a deeper-rooted problem that requires your attention.
Delamination is commonly caused when the bonding agent between the primary and secondary backing of the carpet weakens. Sometimes this can be a defect from the factory, but it can also be caused by accidents such as water damage and spills. Depending on the quality of the carpet that was purchased, the adhesive can be lower-grade that dissolves easier than others, or prolonged exposure to moisture may have weakened the bond. Getting soaked isn’t the only cause of delamination, though. Strong substances that have high acidic or basic content, such as pet urine or powerful chemical cleaning agents, can also lead to weakening the glue holding the backing together. Once the agent is gone, any type of motion will cause the carpet to pucker up, and extended use will cause the fabric to tear further, making the problem worse over time.
In most cases, the potential for damage goes beyond simple degradation of the carpet’s appearance and the minor inconvenience it causes. As far as water damage goes, delamination occurs due to large quantities of water, which can also lead to mold or mildew forming. If pet urine is involved, delamination is a precursor to offensive odors settling into the carpet as a result of bacteria being trapped and breeding in the padding.
So what can be done to fix this? The answer to delaminating carpet depends on the exact cause and extent of the damage. If large areas of the carpet have already been affected, repair is usually not an economical decision and the entire carpet should be replaced, particularly if it was caused by pet waste matter or if mold has already begun to grow. For smaller scale situations, re-gluing the backing may be an option that costs a fraction of the time and money that a replacement would.
Since large-scale water damage isn’t an everyday occurrence, taking some precautions to safeguard against smaller incidents that may cause delamination is an easy way to protect your carpet from getting damaged in ways that can quickly escalate. If you spill anything on the carpet, be sure to clean it up immediately and dry it as quickly as possible before fluids seep into the backing. Avoid using industrial-grade cleaners on your carpet, as they may be formulated for a different grade of material and be unsuitable for your residence. Be sure to neutralize any pet stains with specially-formulated enzyme cleaners instead of normal cleaning solutions, as these cleaners are designed to neutralize the acidity of urine in addition to fully removing the odor.
If you find that you’re already experiencing puckered or bunched-up carpeting, call your local carpet cleaner to have them take a look or provide an estimate for you, so that you can get the best idea for an answer based on your needs and budget.