How will I know the carpet will be durable?


Carpet performance is associated with many things, and it’s important for a specifier to understand how all the individual elements work. For example, the construction method should be appropriate for the end use and the traffic requirements; the yarn size needs to correlate with the gauge; the backing systems should be appropriate with the desired performance; and the dye technique has to be consistent with the end use. The most common trap is relying on only one single construction factor to determine if a product will meet specifications.

Therefore, while pile yarn density is important, so is the gauge, the yarn size and many other construction parameters that can be determined by individual manufacturers. That’s why it’s so important for specifiers and end users to explain how they want the product to perform and allow the manufacturers to make the construction decisions to meet the identified needs. Carpet performance is associated, in part, with pile yarn density, the amount of pile yarn in a given volume of carpet face. For a given carpet weight, lower pile height and higher pile yarn density will yield the most performance for the money.

Density is also influenced by the number of tufts per inch when counting across a width of carpet, for example, a 1/8 gauge carpet has eight tuft rows per inch of width and a 1/10 gauge carpet has 10 rows per inch of width; and the size of the yarn in the tufts. Extra heavy traffic conditions require a density of 5,000 or more.

When it comes to durability, there is little difference between bulked continuous filament (BCF) or staple (spun) fibers. When carpet is manufactured with staple fiber, there will be initial shedding of shorter fibers. It will soon stop, depending on the amount of foot traffic and frequency of vacuuming. Wool is a naturally staple fiber; nylon and polyester can be staple or continuous filament; and olefin (polypropylene) is usually BCF.

Appearance is an aesthetic choice, while texture retention is a performance issue, but the two areas are closely related. Heavy foot traffic and soil can discolor carpet and should influence design decisions. Mid-tone colors and the color of local soil are the best to use in high traffic areas, especially near entrances.

Which carpet fiber should I choose?


For commercial applications, approximately 80 to 82 percent will be nylon, 8 to 10 percent will be olefin and 8 percent will be wool.

Nylon: Nylon is by far the most prevalent fiber used in commercial carpets. Nylon is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance and resilience. It is easily cleaned and can be stain resistant. Nylon fibers withstand the weight and movement of furniture and are generally good for all traffic areas.

Olefin: Olefin (polypropylene) is used where resistance to sunlight fading and chemicals is more important than durability to traffic. Olefin is only available as a solution dyed BCF fiber, is colorfast, resists fading, generates low levels of static electricity and is resistant to acid-based stains.

Wool: Wool is a natural staple fiber, is durable, resilient and self-extinguishing when burned. It is noted for its luxury and performance because it is soft, has high bulk and is available in many colors and patterns. Because of its higher cost, wool is usually used as a decorative accent and in lower traffic areas.

Yarns can be either bulked continuous filament (BCF) or staple. Polymer is forced through forced through a spinneret (extrusion) in uninterrupted filaments, which are then formed into a bulked continuous filament yarn. These fibers may be chopped into short fibers and then spun into staple yarn, twisted, and set with heat to hold the twist. A tighter twist is more important in cut pile because it resists the ends of the yarn from untwisting and matting together during wear and cleanings.

How do I choose the right carpet color?


Floor coverings are one of the dominant fashion statements for an indoor setting. Colors and patterns in a carpet can create a distinctive atmosphere, serve a practical purpose, and send a message.

Within a facility, bright colors with contrasting highlights can differentiate department or team areas. An accent color on the floor can establish a break between the floor and the wall or stairway, and a printed or tufted pattern carpet can reinforce a corporate identity?

Color selection of carpet is as diverse as the imagination can provide. Quiet colors such as neutral earth colors or the blues of sky and water are chosen for a soothing effect or a corporate look, whereas warmer colors, reds, maize, and shades of orange are used for creating a mood of energy and vitality.

Mid-range colors and multicolor blends are best for hiding soil near entrances. Carpet is being produced to coordinate with other interior finishes such as laminates, upholstery, natural stones, wall coverings and paint.

Color can provide an easily remembered visual link to a specific hall or wing. Brighter colors also aid in depth perception and differentiation of areas such as registration desks or main offices. Color is also a good way to differentiate a group or team area, or to differentiate between departments or storied floors.

There are also practical considerations in color selection. New stain and soil resistant technologies make today’s lighter color carpet much easier to clean, allowing for more design options. Medium and darker colors, tweeds and textures are good at hiding soil in high-traffic areas.

Also, know that the color of your carpet will look different under different lighting conditions.

Which carpet type is appropriate for my building?


In order to make the best carpet choice for your facility’s specific needs, you need to arm yourself with the right information.

Facility profile: The first step is to clearly define the type of facility for which you will be specifying carpet and outline the specific requirements of that facility. Some things to consider include the following:

  • Type of facility and specific area receiving new carpet
  • How long the carpet will be used (life cycle)
  • Types of dirt that may be tracked into the facility
  • Whether the area is a remodeled or a new installation
  • Whether access to subfloor is required
  • Whether there is modular furniture in the space

Location profile: To maximize performance, building owners and facility managers must first decide where the carpet will go to determine what type of carpet is most appropriate.

When should carpet be the floor covering of choice? Carpet is the norm in healthcare, education, offices, hotels and retail locations. Carpet is being used in all common public areas of facilities — corridors (for sound absorption and slip and fall safety), waiting rooms, lobbies and offices (for beauty and versatility). It is also being used more and more in patient rooms and nurseries in healthcare facilities (for the warmth and comfort) and almost exclusively in elementary and preschool classrooms in educational facilities.

Below are some location-specific questions to ask:

  • On a typical day, will there be spills and stains or dirt tracked into the building? If so, what type of spills? Food stains? Coffee or chemical spills?
  • What will the frequency of spills be? Excessive? Occasional?
  • Do you need moisture impermeability?
  • Is there exposure to harsh chemicals, intense sunlight or atmospheric contaminants (such as nitrous oxides or ozone)?
  • Will there be lots of foot traffic? Wheelchairs? Supply carts?
  • When identifying the location where carpet will be specified, it is also important to define the level of traffic expected.

How does choosing carpet really save me money?


The sum of the initial cost of carpet, plus the maintenance costs over the total time of the life of the carpet, is usually less than hard surface flooring. Plus, cleaning carpet is less labor intensive. While upfront purchase and installation costs are more expensive for carpet than hard flooring, carpet expenditures prove to be more cost-effective over the full life cycle of the product.