Mold and mildew can significantly damage your flooring, but more importantly can cause health concerns like breathing problems, unpleasant odors and negatively impact the look and feel of a space.
In the majority of cases, mold develops under the carpet first. So when you identify a spot of mold on your carpet the problem underneath will often be far too widespread for a topical mold treatment and changing a couple of tiles. Instead you will require a full replacement, along with mold treatment and removal.
In other words, it’s extremely costly (not to mention disruptive for your whole organization) to fix mold and mildew problems after they’ve happened - and wherever possible, prevention is definitely better than cure.
What Causes Mold and Mildew?
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, “anything can mold as long as there is moisture or a food source”.
Moisture is the primary cause of mold and mildew, as well as causing other problems such as loose flooring and installation problems. The moisture that affects your flooring will either come from above (such as water from plumbing problems or flooding) or below (moisture in the sub-floor). Damp conditions, if left unchecked, have the potential to become a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
How to Prevent Mold and Mildew
1) Seal the Floor
One of the most common recommendations from flooring manufacturers is to seal the sub-floor before laying your flooring. By applying a chemical coating to the sub-floor, you create an impermeable barrier between your carpet and the sub-floor, preventing moisture which helps to eliminate a major source of mold and mildew.
This is arguably the most effective way to prevent mold and mildew from damaging your flooring. However, it is an added expense during your installation process, as application can be very labor intensive, and many sealants emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which negatively impact Indoor Air Quality. VOCs are harmful, making some sealants unsuitable for use in hospital, school and office environments.
2) Moisture Wicking Carpet
The structure of open cell cushion backing allows for ‘moisture wicking’ – making it possible for sub-floor moisture to travel through the carpet backing and evaporate away at the seams of each carpet tile. In contrast, hard-backed carpet tiles will trap moisture, and without the ability to evaporate, this can cause the growth of mold and mildew.
Open cell cushion backing helps negate many of the problems associated with sub-floor moisture – and unlike sealing the floor, means that the moisture is removed, rather than simply trapped in place beneath your flooring.
3) Choose a Product with an Antimicrobial
Antimicrobial agents are the final piece of the mold-prevention puzzle. A carpet tile with antimicrobials in the carpet’s backing will inhibit the growth of mold and mildew – even in damp environments.
Choosing a carpet tile with open cell cushion backing and antimicrobials means you’ve got all your bases covered when it comes to moisture management and mold prevention. You will be removing moisture from the sub-floor, and at the same time have the chemical protection offered by antimicrobials to prevent mold developing.