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The Hidden Role of Cushion Backing in Office Carpet Tiles

Posted on Oct 13, 2015, by Michael Eckert

There’s more to cushion backing than comfort alone. To help you understand the importance of cushioned carpet in your office(s), we’re looking at the hidden benefits cushion has over hard backing: from quicker installation to longer appearance retention.

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

1) Improved Appearance Retention

Cushion backing plays an important role in extending the life of your carpet tiles.

In hard-backed tiles, the carpet’s fibers directly absorb the impact of foot traffic. Over time, this damages the fibers, and causes the appearance of your carpet to degrade. Cushion backing helps to absorb some of the impact of foot traffic, reducing damage and wear to the carpet’s fibers.

Most cushion backed carpet tiles use closed cell cushioning, which helps to protect the carpet’s fibers in the short term. However, over time, this type of cushioning starts to break-down from the impact of foot traffic – reducing the cushion’s shock absorption, and leading to fiber degradation.

Thankfully, open cell cushion backing offers even greater improvements to appearance retention. Instead of breaking-down over time, this type of backing can ‘re-inflate’ after compression. This protects the carpet’s fibers more effectively than closed cell cushioning, and prolongs the life of your carpet by 40 – 50% more than hard-backed products.


A look at the open cell cushion backing used in Milliken's Comfort Plus carpet tiles.

Want office carpet tiles that will retain their appearance for years?

Click here to learn how to choose tiles that retain their appearance

2) Effective Moisture Management

Open cell cushion backing can help negate many of the problems associated with sub-floor moisture.

The structure of open cell 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. Without the ability to evaporate, this can cause the growth of mold and mildew – both of which are detrimental to Indoor Air Quality.

3) Easier Installation

Many carpet tiles have backings that contain PVC. If these tiles come into contact with adhesive left-over from a prior installation, a harmful phenomenon known as plasticizer migration can occur. This creates unpleasant odors which negatively impact Indoor Air Quality, and often necessitate the laborious removal of residual adhesive.

With no PVC in its backing, open cell cushion mitigates this problem, reducing the need to remove old adhesives and greatly speeding-up the installation process. Thanks to its moisture wicking technology, tiles with open cell cushion backing can even be directly installed in environments of up to 80% relative humidity – with no need for expensive sealers. When paired with an adhesive-less installation method (like TractionBack), it’s possible to safely install in areas of up to 85% relative humidity.

4) Health and Wellness Benefits

Cushion backing can also impart a wealth of benefits to health, wellness and safety.

Open cell cushioning uses the same type of technology found in high-performance athletic shoes. With greater underfoot support, these carpet tiles significantly reduce muscle fatigue – often by as much as 24%. This is hugely beneficial in any environment, but the effects are amplified in sit-to-stand working spaces, where standing and sitting comfort are both an important concern.

Cushioning also brings acoustic benefits, reducing ambient noise and minimizing ground level vibrations by up to 50% more than hard-backed surfaces. In office environments, this improves productivity and minimizes distractions; making for happier employees, and better company performance.

To learn more about the hidden benefits of cushion backing, download our free guide: How to Choose Carpet Tiles That Last.

how to choose carpet tiles that last [free whitepaper]

Topics: Performance

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert