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What's the Difference Between Commercial Carpet Squares and Planks?

Posted on Mar 27, 2017, by Mike Brown

Selecting modular carpet can seem like a never-ending list of decisions to make. Color, pattern, size, shape - small decisions that all have a significant impact on your finished project. From large square tiles to narrow carpet 'planks,' it can be difficult to determine which is the right shape and size for your organization. With that in mind, we’re identifying the most common commercial carpet tile sizes – and exploring the different uses of each.

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Common Commercial Carpet Tile Sizes

Squares

Most of the time, when you think of modular carpet, you imagine square tiles. This is the traditional option and the most common. Originally, carpet tile sizes were largely a byproduct of the manufacturing processes used to make them - and as such, varied widely from one manufacturer to another.

Today’s modular carpet has become much more standardized. Flooring manufacturers normally offer two distinct sizes of square carpet tile, in 1 m x 1 m or 50 cm x 50 cm.

Planks

Carpet planks are a much more recent invention. Therefore, they tend to come in a relatively standard size of 25 cm x 1 m, but it's becoming more common to find wider planks at 50 cm x 1 m as an additional offering.

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Squares vs. Planks: What's the Difference?

While these different sizes and shapes of carpet tile may seem arbitrary, they've become the industry standard for a reason: each different size and shape works perfectly for different use cases. So what are the main differences between commercial carpet squares and planks - and when would you select one over the other?

Design

The most noticeable difference between carpet squares and planks is their shape, which influences the range of patterns you can achieve through various layouts.

With carpet squares, you can either rotate tiles to mix-up the look or offset tiles and install them in a 'brick' layout. However, for planks you have a myriad of options: in addition to the 'brick' design, herringbone patterns are a popular choice, as are basketweave layouts. These are an excellent way to add design flair to flooring, especially if you're using a more subtle carpet.

Carpet planks - herringbone layout.jpg

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By mixing patterns or colors and incorporating accent tiles, you can strengthen the visual impact of the floor plane. You can also use tiles in different orientations to introduce subtle wayfinding cues or to delineate between spaces without selecting an additional carpet option.

Carpet planks - different layouts.jpg

Featured image: Organic Valley - Cashton, Wisconsin, USA

Installation and Waste

The size and shape of your carpet tiles also impact the amount of waste that is produced during installation. While some degree of waste is to be expected with any carpet installation, tile size will affect how much.

Smaller tiles will better fit into a space without the need for extensive trimming, and so will create less waste than larger tiles - especially in small or narrow spaces like corridors or small offices. In a tight space, planks will generate less waste and be a better visual parallel.

Similarly, the size and shape of carpet tile affect how easy and quick they are to install. It will take less time to install larger tiles as you'll need fewer tiles to cover the space. However, particularly in small spaces, you may find that using smaller tiles is easier, as there will be less cutting-to-size required.

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown