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The Key to Buying Inexpensive Commercial Carpet

Posted on May 22, 2017, by Mike Brown

Are you tired of overpaying for commercial carpet that is quickly damaged? Today, we're giving you the knowledge needed to specify durable carpet at a fraction of the expected total cost.

Featured image: LUESA (Land Use & Environmental Services Agency), Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Design firm: Gensler

1) Minimize Installation Costs

When it's time to purchase new carpet, installation and floor preparation are two of the biggest expenses you'll encounter. Despite being treated as fixed costs by many installers, changes in how carpet can be manufactured have created products that eliminate almost all of the costs historically associated with flooring installation.

Adhesive Removal

Grinding and encapsulation of the subfloor are traditionally necessary to prevent adverse reactions from occurring between carpet backing and leftover adhesive - particularly when using PVC-backed carpet.

But certain types of carpet tiles now feature specially designed non-reactive backings without PVC, which can be safely installed directly onto the old adhesive - removing the labor and time costs associated with adhesive removal. If the installer doesn't need to do it, the cost doesn't need to be incurred.

Smoothing Lumps and Bumps

Not having to remove traces of old adhesive offers a significant time and cost saving. However, it means that lumps and bumps of old adhesive remain on the subfloor.

Even modest lumps and bumps will be visible through carpet with a thin backing; this is a particular problem with carpets with thermoplastic backings. Thermoplastic-backed carpet tiles are often selected as an alternative to PVC-backed tiles because they're non-reactive, mitigating the risk of adverse chemical reactions. However, their thin backing allows for adhesive telegraphing where unevenness shows through the tiles - so the same floor prep as with a PVC-backed product is required to create a smooth surface.

To smooth over lumps and bumps on the subfloor, commonly, a skim coat is applied over the entire surface. However, you can avoid this step by selecting cushion-backed carpet. Cushion-backed modular carpet is thick enough to absorb the bumps in the subfloor, creating a comfortable and even floor without any added installation expense.

Adhesive-less Options

Certain types of adhesive require relatively labor-intensive application, so many carpet manufacturers tout tape, dots or tabs as an "adhesive-less" alternative. While these products sound great in theory, in practice, they often require peeling and sticking hundreds of pieces of tape - creating a sizeable bill for labor costs in the process.


Projected cost savings on a standard project, over a 20-year period.

2) Eradicate Moisture Problems

Musty smells and damp carpet can cost a fortune to remediate, but there's another, unseen cost of moisture problems that you're incurring whenever you install carpet: moisture mitigation.

Moisture Mitigation Solutions

The costs of moisture-related flooring failure can be so high that many installers won't think twice about specifying top-of-the-range moisture mitigation products. But products like two-part epoxies can add upwards of several dollars per square foot to your total flooring bill - and increasingly, it's a cost you simply don't need to bear.

Milliken's open-cell cushion backing is an all-in-one moisture solution, allowing subfloor moisture to evaporate away - preventing the root cause of moisture problems and eliminating the need for additional products.

Moisture Testing

Moisture testing is a prerequisite for almost all types of carpet and usually means paying for an outside contractor to perform complex and time-consuming moisture tests. However, because of the way Milliken's carpet inherently solves moisture problems, there's no moisture testing required - offering a quick and simple way to protect your budget.

Costs of Failure

Even if you're comfortable with the additional cost of moisture mitigation products, there's no guarantee they'll work as intended. Some moisture mitigation solutions are incompatible with one another; other products solve only a small part of the moisture problem, trapping water under the subfloor and creating a problem for another day.

By solving the root cause of the problem with a moisture vapor wicking carpet tile, you can future-proof your flooring against moisture problems - and the massive costs that they cause.


Projected cost savings on a project with moisture mitigation, over a 20-year period.

3) Maximize Longevity

The longer carpet lasts, the better its value, so it's important to select carpet that stays beautiful for years into the future.

High TARR Products

Texture Appearance Retention Rating is a reliable measure for assessing the durability of carpet, allowing you to specify the right products for each area of your building.


Cushion-backed products also contribute to carpet longevity, as the cushion absorbs the impact from foot traffic and protects the carpet fibers from direct wear-and-tear.

Easy Replacement

Even with a thorough maintenance program, the occasional spilled coffee cup is inevitable. These types of isolated incidents can be difficult to remedy with broadloom carpet, but modular carpet makes it quick and easy to remove the damaged tile and replace it with another from attic stock. There's no need to replace the entire carpet.

Choosing Inexpensive Carpet

The simplest way to secure inexpensive carpet is to minimize its purchase price. However, over the lifetime of the flooring, the purchase price is a drop in the ocean. Over time, maintenance, cleaning, repair and replacement costs can dwarf the original price, so if you're after truly cost-conscious carpet, it's important to select a product that's designed to last, first and foremost.

All of these factors combine to create a truly inexpensive carpet - floor covering that will look beautiful for years after installation without any extra expenditure required.

how to prevent the 11 root causes of flooring failure

Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown