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Buying Office Carpet? Stop Falling for These 5 Specification Myths

Posted on Oct 20, 2015, by Michael Eckert

With some many types of carpet to choose between, it can be difficult for organizations to choose the right carpet for their needs. The problem is worsened by a handful of carpet specification myths that crop up, time and time again. Today, I’m busting those myths.

Free Tip Sheet: 25 Questions to Ask Your Carpet Tile Manufacturer

1. Solution Dyed Nylon is Your Only Choice

Solution dyed nylon (SDN) is one of the most popular carpet fiber choices, with many people believing that SDN can outperform other carpet types. This is largely because of SDN’s innate bleach resistance, allowing organizations to use bleach solutions to clean their carpets.

However, while this may be beneficial in a healthcare environment, most organizations (like schools and offices) will rarely use bleach cleaning. Even then, most standard SDN products can only withstand a bleach solution of up to 10% concentration. Other forms of carpet can be made to resist the same concentration of bleach through the application of special post-dye treatments - reducing the need to limit your carpet choice to SDN only.

2. You Need a Specific Fiber Face Weight

Face weight often plays an important role in the carpet buying process - and in many cases, flooring decisions boil down to a choice between specific face weights.

If you’re choosing a hard-backed product, face weight plays an important role in determining the appearance retention of your carpet, as it’s the carpet’s fibers that take the strain of foot traffic. However, if you’re choosing a cushion-backed product, face weight plays only a minimal role in determining durability.

In addition to face weight, there are a multitude of factors that determine the appearance retention of carpet. While your choice of backing has the single biggest impact on your carpet’s appearance retention, face weight is one of the least important (ranked 7th out of 8 major factors).

3. Branded Fibers Are Significantly Better Than Unbranded Fibers

Many manufacturers sell both branded fibers (with a manufacturer specific formulation and name) and unbranded fibers; and it’s a common assumption that branded fibers offer unparalleled performance.

However, the real differences between branded and unbranded fibers aren’t always as clear as manufacturers make it seem. Though branded fibers will typically outperform unbranded fibers, unbranded fibers still provide excellent performance, allowing you to choose from a wider range of products at a significantly lower cost. As mentioned above, fiber type is more important when used with hard-backed products - but its impact on appearance retention is greatly diminished when the product has a cushion backing.

4. All Nylon Fiber is the Same

Many carpet manufacturers use two distinct types of nylon fiber – Type 6 and Type 6,6. Despite their similar names, these types of fiber do have different characteristics. Though many manufacturers claim that Type 6 is the same as Type 6,6, each fiber type will have a different impact on your carpet’s performance.

Their different chemical structures mean that Type 6 nylon is easier to recycle, but Type 6,6 is more durable. Like all sustainability decisions, it’s important to weigh your durability goals against your desire to recycle carpet at its end-of-life. Type 6,6 would be a better choice for long term durability, and can be re-used in different locations; while Type 6 is best suited for those who prioritize recycling over longer term durability.

To learn more about the differences between Type 6 nylon and Type 6,6 nylon, and how it impacts performance, read our blog post: How Fiber Type Impacts Carpet Performance and Longevity.

5. There Are No Trade-Offs With Recyclable Carpet

It’s a common misconception that carpets with a high percentage of recyclable content are universally better than those with lower recyclable content. In reality, high levels of recyclable content come with a major caveat – requiring organizations to forfeit performance to achieve high recyclable specifications.

By definition, highly recyclable carpet will break down more readily than other types of carpet – reducing the carpet’s durability in the process. Though the carpet can be easily recycled at end-of-life, end-of-life will come much sooner than a more durable carpet. In contrast, more durable carpets won’t recycle as easily, but they will last longer. This means they can be re-used, multiple times, significantly reducing the amount of carpet sent to landfill.

It’s important for all organizations to move towards greater sustainability, but there’s no guarantee that highly recyclable carpet is the best way for your individual organization to achieve it. There’s no need to limit your flooring choices – and even highly durable carpet can be sustainable.

Find answers to all of your carpet specification questions, and download our new whitepaper below.

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Topics: Performance

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert