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Covering the Office - A Guide to Choosing Commercial Carpet for Work Spaces

There are so many decisions to make in opening or renovating a business. When choosing a commercial floor covering, most people consider these five features:

  • Suitable: Will the flooring support the kind of work being done?
  • Durability: How long will the flooring hold up under the traffic load?
  • Maintenance: Is the floor easy and cost-effective to maintain?
  • Cost: Does the flooring material fit the budget now and at time of replacement?
  • Appearance: Does the flooring add to a professional appearance?

But here are a few additional considerations that can influence in your decision and satisfaction with your flooring choice.

Commercial_Flooring_2Fire Ratings

All floor finishes are tested for flammability, using a test called ASTM E-648 Radiant Panel test. This test indicates how likely a flooring is to spread flame during a fire. Class I rated materials are more flame-resistant system than a Class II. So, covering corridors, lobbies, stairways and exit ways in class 1 materials is a good way to help people escape in case of fire. This standard is already in place for health care facilities, new construction, detention facilities and more.

Smoke is often the most lethal part of a fire, so carpets are tested for smoke emissions. In this test, called the NBS Smoke Chamber Test, carpets with lower ratings emit less smoke. Commercial and residential carpets in the United States must have an NBS Smoke Chamber Test of 450 or less.

Face weight / Density

Face weight, also known as pile weight, is measured in ounces of yarn per square yard of carpet. Face weight is a measure of just how much yarn was used to make the carpet. Typically face weight or pile weight of commercial carpet ranges from 16 ounces to 40 ounces per square yard. This measurement is often confused with another: carpet density. Carpet density is another measure that plays a key role in determining the carpet’s durability. It describes how that yarn is used and how it will bear wear and tear. The yarn can be short and tightly looped or loose and tall which provides two completely different wear capacities. Two carpets may have the same face weight, but completely different densities and uses.

Backing and Padding

What’s on the back of your carpet may help determine the performance of carpet. Backings provide strength and stability. In most commercial carpet construction, the yarn is stitched through a polypropylene primary fabric and a secondary backing such as action bac is added to strengthen and prevent pulls and tears.

Some unitary carpets have the primary backing and the yarns get locked in place with a latex coating. Unitary backings offer an increased resistance to pulls and tears. Some backings provide a moisture barrier designed to keep fluids from reaching the sub-floor and prevent mold growth. Moisture barrier backings like these are best for environments like food service or health care environments that are likely to see frequent spills.

Most commercial carpeting is glued directly to the floor without cushion. However, depending on the situation, padding can add a soft step or sound dampening that’s important in a business environment. There are three methods of installing padding in a commercial environment and I’ve put them in my order of preference. The first method is the factory attached cushion method. The padding is added to the back of carpet in lieu of or in addition to the carpets secondary backing. The carpet with the attached padding is then glued to the floor. This factory applied cushion is one of the best ways of providing cushion.

Another method of installing cushion is a method called double-stick. This method usually involves installing a rubber cushion with a pressure sensitive adhesive then the carpeting is glue to the padding with a premium latex adhesive. Double-stick installations have to be installed with one important condition kept in mind – double-stick installations require there to be no traffic on the freshly glued floor until the adhesive gets a chance to cure. If you don’t wait long enough for the glue to cure, you might find bubbles get created because the foot traffic disperses the adhesive and doesn’t allow for there to be full adhesive coverage.

The third method is to install carpeting with tackless strips and stretching the carpeting. This method is used primarily for residential installations. The down side with tackless installations is that the carpet can buckle over time because of traffic patterns and sometimes from humidity level changes and will need to be re-stretched.

Choosing the correct padding and adhesives may be the difference between a great floor and an expensive disaster. If your carpet is rated to last 15 years, be sure that the padding will too!

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Topics: Specialty Flooring Commercial Carpet Flooring Safety