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Top 10 Tips for Choosing Commercial Carpet Tiles

Posted on Jun 5, 2017, by Mike Brown

Selecting commercial carpet is a much more intricate process than purchasing residential carpet. As well as considering budget and the aesthetics of each option, there are a wealth of practical considerations to balance.

To help you select commercial floor covering that's best matched to your organization's unique requirements, we're sharing ten top tips, to help you avoid the most common mistakes people make when choosing commercial carpet tiles.

Featured image: Media Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Design firm: Garnett

1) Choose Suitable Carpet

There's no one-size-fits-all solution for commercial modular carpet: if your organization is very busy and lots of people use the space every day, you'll have different requirements than a small office used by half a dozen people.

TARR ratings are a clear, objective indication of how durable your chosen carpet tiles are. Different classifications are suitable for different use cases, so be sure to select carpet tiles with a TARR rating that suits your organization's needs.

Free Tip Sheet: 6 Ways to Guarantee Commercial Flooring Project Success

2) Don't Just Focus on Aesthetics

Flooring makes a significant contribution to the overall aesthetics of a space. However, if you want carpet that continues to look good for years to come, you must look beyond color, pattern and design.

Carpet tile backings should be a top priority when selecting commercial modular carpet: they're the most important factor in determining how tiles wear over time. With hardback carpet tiles, all the pressure of foot traffic is borne by the carpet fibers, which get bent or crushed underfoot. With cushion backed carpet tiles, the cushion compresses under foot traffic, protecting the carpet's fibers, and its overall appearance, from wear and tear.

3) Consider the Total Cost of Ownership

Over the lifetime of flooring, purchase price becomes minimal. For installation alone, the cost differences between apparently similar carpet tiles can be astounding. The chart below shows how the costs stack up over a 20-year life cycle:

Floor prep, installation and replacement costs dwarf the product price, so even if you save a few dollars per square yard on the product purchase, that soon becomes insignificant if you have higher maintenance costs to manage every month.

4) Understand What Installation Processes are Required - and What You can do Without

Many installers will provide you with a fixed cost for flooring installation. However, with changes in the carpet manufacturing process, you can now select products that eliminate many traditional installation costs, including:

  • Adhesive removal - old adhesive needed to be ground off the subfloor before new flooring was installed, to prevent adverse chemical reactions. Now, you can specify products with non-reactive adhesive and backings, and remove the need for this labor-intensive process.
  • Subfloor levelling - some carpet tiles show all the lumps and bumps in the subfloor - particularly those with a thermoplastic backing. To combat this, many installers apply a skim coat to the subfloor to level out any unevenness. However, cushion backed carpet tiles are an alternative option. These are thicker so lumps and bumps don't show through the carpet.

5) Remember to Purchase Attic Stock

The beauty of carpet tiles is that they're easy to spot-replace if damaged - but only if you have matching tiles available. It may seem unnecessary to buy more carpet tiles than you need, but accidents happen.

A few years down the line you'll be glad to have a couple of boxes of additional carpet tiles in attic stock, so you can easily replace damaged tiles without worrying about discontinued products or an imprecise color match.

6) Check out the Warranty

Manufacturer warranties are often incredibly complicated. Some warranties are time limited, so your protection may lapse well before your carpet tiles reach the end of their life. Others are a tangle of exacting requirements to follow to the letter, or else your warranty is void.

Purchasing flooring that comes with a comprehensive program of lifetime warranties is one of the simplest, most effective things you can do to protect your flooring investment.

7) Consider Your Carpet's Impact on Health and Well-being

If employees spend a lot of time on their feet, you need flooring that provides adequate underfoot support to reduce muscle strain and fatigue. Milliken's cushion-backed carpet tiles use the same material found in high-performance sports shoes, for greater underfoot comfort.

Additionally, high ambient noise levels are linked to increased stress levels, so selecting carpet with a good acoustic profile is important - particularly in large, open-plan spaces. Cushion backing also brings acoustic benefits, reducing ambient noise by up to 50% compared with hard-backed surfaces.

8) Don't Confuse Face Weight with Durability

Many people assume that fiber face weight plays a significant role in determining carpet durability, but that's not the case. High pile products will have a high face weight, but are actually less durable than carpet tiles with shorter piles, because the shorter yarn is less likely to get crushed or bent underfoot.

If durability is one of your top priorities, other factors play a much bigger role in protecting your carpet from wear and tear - like design and tile backing.

9) Embrace the Aesthetics of Modular Carpet Tiles

One common mistake people make when buying modular carpet is attempting to recreate the look of seamless broadloom carpet. While it's possible to find tiles that seam really well, if you want patterned tiles, it's likely the seams will be visible.

This could be a concern if you want a plain floor with no seams. However, the design flexibility you get with modular carpet means you can create a look that is impossible to recreate with wall-to-wall carpet.

10) Remember to Protect Your Carpet

Without a walk-off product at the entry points into your facility, all the moisture and dirt on people's shoes gets tracked across the carpet. When dirt gets into carpet, it wears away at the carpet fibers like sandpaper, speeding up appearance deterioration.

However, it's possible to prevent up to 80% of damaging moisture, dirt and dust from getting onto your carpet, by installing a tiered entry system. In smaller spaces where an entry system may not be appropriate, you can use mats to a similar effect.

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown