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8 Factors that Affect Office Carpet Durability

Posted on Dec 18, 2015, by Michael Eckert

You want to be sure that the office carpet you’ve chosen will last for years, and still look good, so today I’m outlining the eight factors that affect carpet durability - from most to least important.

Feature photo - Quarles & Brady reception area, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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1) Carpet Tile Backing System

Carpet tile backing is the most important factor that impacts durability. In hard-backed tiles, the carpet fibers directly absorb the impact of foot traffic, which damages the fibers and causes the appearance of your carpet to deteriorate. Cushion backing helps to absorb some of the impact of foot traffic, reducing fiber wear.

Most cushion-backed tiles use closed cell cushioning, which helps in the short-term, but over time the cushioning breaks down and can no longer absorb foot pressure. Open cell cushion backing offers even better protection. Instead of breaking down over time, open cell cushioning ‘re-inflates’ after compression,protecting the carpet fibers more effectively and for longer than closed cell cushioning.

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Learn more: The Hidden Role of Cushion Backing in Carpet Tiles.

2) Design and Color

The second most important consideration is the design of your carpet. In large organizations especially, it’s impossible for your custodial staff to find and clean all spills as soon as they happen, so it’s essential that your carpet tiles hide the stains.

Color and pattern are important considerations, as a dark-colored or patterned carpet will be much better at disguising coffee spills and other stains than a lightly colored carpet with little to no pattern. It’s important that you consider how it will look in ten years’ time, as well as fresh from the mill.

3) Yarn Construction

Carpet fibers can be processed to improve their dimensional stability, by heat setting the fiber, and twisting the fibers into a more resilient shape. These processes will improve durability compared to unprocessed yarn.

4) Yarn Density

Put simply, the closer your carpet pile is packed together (the denser it is), the longer it will last. This is because there are more tufts to wear away or distort.

When you walk on carpet, carpet fibers bend and rub against each other. This causes friction which wears away at the fibers. However, if your carpet pile is packed closely together, it won’t move as much - and less movement in your carpet pile means less friction, less wear, and a longer-lasting carpet.

Free Tip Sheet: 6 Ways to Guarantee Commercial Flooring Project Success

5) Nylon Type

Most manufacturers offer two types of nylon fiber, known as nylon 6 and nylon 6,6. It’s often assumed that these two types of fiber are nearly identical, but they each impact carpet performance and durability in a different way.

Nylon 6,6 is much tougher (and therefore more durable) than nylon 6, but this makes nylon 6,6 more difficult to recycle as it’s harder to break down the fibers. This creates a trade-off between recyclability and durability, and is a further consideration when choosing your carpet tiles.

To learn about the differences between nylon 6 and nylon 6,6in detail, read our blog post: How Fiber Type Impacts Carpet Performance and Longevity.

6) Soil and Stain Protection

Most manufacturers offer carpet tiles with some sort of stain or soiling protection. This means that the carpet is treated to repel dirt, making it easier to clean. While important, design and color is a much more important consideration that will have a greater impact on the durability of your carpet compared with soil or stain protection.

7) Face Weight

Face weight is the actual weight of the fiber used to manufacture the carpet tile. Though you might think that a high face weight carpet would be more durable than one with a low face weight, this isn’t the case.

Pile height (the thickness of the carpet from the backing to the surface) is one of the factors that determines the face weight of your carpet. As a general rule, the shorter the pile of your carpet (and the lower the face weight), the less likely it is that the yarn will bend and wear as a result of foot traffic.

However, shorter pile carpet may not be as aesthetically pleasing as longer pile products – and as long as heavy, high pile products aren’t installed in extreme conditions, face weight has a relatively small impact on carpet tile durability. Therefore, it’s important to look at the other, more important factors that impact carpet durability, rather than solely focusing on face weight.

8) External Factors

The seven factors above all look at the make-up of the carpet tiles. But external factors such as foot traffic and maintenance also play a part.

It’s essential that you choose a carpet tile that’s appropriate to the level of foot traffic in each area of your office (for more information, find out how to minimize risk when purchasing new flooring).

And once your carpet’s installed, maintenance is the most important thing you can do to extend the life of your carpet. While there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ program to follow (your cleaning requirements will vary depending on everything from foot traffic to the weather), your cleaning program must include vacuuming and deep cleaning to maximize the lifespan of your carpet.

Discover everything you need to know about choosing long-lasting carpet, by downloading your free guide below.

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Feature photo - Quarles & Brady reception area, Indianapolis, Indiana. For more on this project, you can: 
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Topics: Performance

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert