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How is Commercial Grade Carpet Different from Residential?

Posted on Feb 6, 2017, by Mike Brown

Some carpet manufacturers offer both residential and commercial grade carpet. Today I'm reviewing how each type of carpet is specifically designed and constructed to meet the unique needs of its environment and identifying the five main differences between commercial and residential carpet.

Featured image: Cisco, San Francisco, California, USA. Design firm: O+A

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

1) Aesthetics

You will typically find a wider range of color and style options for residential carpet compared with commercial carpet.

In busy commercial spaces, dark-colored patterns are the popular choice. Dark patterns are traditionally more forgiving than solid colors: marks and stains over time will blend in with the pattern, allowing the carpet to last longer in a commercial environment where spills are more frequent.

In contrast, light-colored carpets are often favored in residential settings because they give the impression of space and light.

However, it's becoming increasingly common for commercial spaces to mimic the comfortable environment of a residential setting - particularly in office environments. As this workplace trend grows in popularity, office designers are frequently selecting more textural, semi-solid floor covering patterns in lighter tones to channel residential aesthetics.

2) Comfort

Comfort is the top priority for residential carpet and likely feels exceptionally luxurious underfoot when compared with commercial grade carpet. The two types of carpet are constructed differently: to improve underfoot comfort, residential carpet is likely to have a greater pile height, which creates the indulgent, plush feel.

Residential carpet is often supplied with a thick underlay, which acts as padding. This creates a more comfortable surface and has the added benefit of increasing sound absorption. Commercial grade carpet is starting to recognise the benefits of underfoot comfort and follow suit - all of Milliken's modular carpet has built-in cushion backing, which offers a wealth of comfort and acoustic benefits.

3) Durability

If comfort is the main priority in a residential setting, durability is top for commercial grade carpet.

Commercial floor covering is created to handle high levels of foot traffic day after day. It's carefully constructed so that it can withstand repeated heavy foot traffic without looking worn. For example, it normally has a shorter pile height, as longer fibers are prone to being crushed and distorted by high levels of foot traffic, meaning the carpet's appearance deteriorates rapidly.

There are several factors which impact carpet durability, but the most important is the carpet backing. Milliken's cushion backing not only improves underfoot comfort and noise absorption, it also significantly extends the lifetime of the carpet - by 40-50% over hardback carpet tiles.

4) Cleaning and Maintenance Requirements

For both residential and commercial grade carpet, vacuuming is the primary cleaning method, with an occasional deep clean.

However, due to the higher levels of foot traffic, commercial carpet requires much more extensive cleaning and maintenance than residential carpet. Even in households with small children and pets, you won't reach the levels of dirt and debris brought in on hundreds of people's shoes in a busy commercial environment.

High-traffic areas in commercial environments may need vacuuming every day to prevent dirt and grit from wearing away at carpet fibers, whereas many homeowners won't vacuum more often than once a week. Furthermore, while homeowners are recommended to deep clean their carpets once a year, high-traffic commercial environments may require deep cleaning on a quarterly basis or at least every six months.

5) Expectation

The biggest difference between residential and commercial grade carpet is the expectation that people have when buying it. Commercial grade carpet needs to retain a beautiful appearance for ten years or more to provide a well-maintained, professional atmosphere. In contrast, residential carpet isn’t expected to last anywhere near as long, or endure as much wear and tear.

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown