Catherine Helliker of Danfloor UK explains the many factors that specifiers must consider when selecting a high-performance commercial carpet
The floors of any building, whether commercial or residential, will be the surface that has most impact from footfall as well as routine cleaning and maintenance. It’s therefore no surprise that floors are usually the first surface to reflect wear and tear. As such, it’s important to invest in floors which will keep pace with the demands of the particular environment in question. There are hundreds of flooring options to choose from, and when it comes to selecting carpet there are so many which appear the same, but due to their composition, may not perform in the same way, or last as long. There are a number of elements to consider and the following will give an indication of what to look for when specifying a high-performance commercial carpet which still delivers a touch of comfort and luxury.
To ensure the best possible product and protect your investment, one thing you can look at is the pile height. In a commercial environment the pile height should be no greater than 5 mm, to allow the use of wheeled items such as trollies and wheelchairs. Shorter pile height also makes for a more durable carpet, which is easier to clean and less prone to crushing. The total pile weight should exceed 1000 grams per square metre and for tufted carpets the pile density should be greater than 180,000 tufts. As a result, the greater tuft density will also resist crushing and increase longevity. Finding such a combination will provide you with a carpet that will perform, and last in such demanding environments.
Yarn shape and structure
It’s important to select a carpet constructed with a ‘trilobal’ yarn, which acts like a prism to refract light and defuse the visual effects of soiling. A heat set twist yarn will also hold its appearance longer than other yarn types due to the finishing process, which help to minimise yarn fraying.
There are many dyeing techniques for producing the wide variety of colours and designs available on the market. Dyeing methods affect carpet performance and stain resistance, so it’s important to understand the difference between two of the most common techniques – solution and piece dyed. In solution dyeing, colour is added to the liquid state of the fibre components, before the fibre is actually produced, meaning that the colour is found throughout the carpet fibre; a little like the appearance of a carrot. The solution dye method produces the most colourfast carpet yarn because the dye is added during the manufacturing process before the fibres are extruded, meaning the colour is locked in. As a result solution dyed fibres are particularly resistant to prolonged exposure to UV light. Piece dyeing is done after the carpet is made. This method yields bright tones and more of a variety of colours, however the dye only penetrates the outer surface of the fibre, like the appearance of a radish. Piece dyed products, due to their dyeability, can stain more easily than solution dyed products. It should also be noted that solution dyed carpets maintain their colour even with the use of harsh cleaning chemicals such as bleach.
An impervious membrane is another added benefit; it sits beneath the carpet substrate and above the carpet backing, and will ensure that any liquid spills stay on the surface of the carpet and will not seep through to the sub floor. If liquid does reach the subfloor it can lead to bacterial or fungal growth, and may cause odour problems and deterioration of both the carpet backing and floor underneath. As liquid spills remain on the surface of an impervious carpet, this also makes them easier to clean; minimising the risk of staining and allowing the use of wet cleaning techniques such as carpet shampooing, without compromising the carpet or subfloor.
An antimicrobial coating will help with infection control concerns and the reduction of mould and mildew, that can also lead to odours. Selecting a carpet that includes such a coating is important for anyone needing to eliminate odours and increase health protection. It’s ideal for sectors where carpeting is used around food and drink, such as in the healthcare and hospitality sectors. A non-migrating antimicrobial coating on the carpet fibres will start to kill micro-organisms, including those that cause MRSA, when they come into contact with the fibre. A non-migrating coating will not lose its strength over time and creates an environment, which microorganisms can’t adapt to.
Certification & colour
It’s important to check a carpet’s specification to be aware of its classification for use and certification to ensure it meets relevant British Standards. For fire retardancy in the UK carpets should comply with British Standard BS4790, which assess the ease to which a textile floor covering would ignite under certain practical conditions, for example a burning cigarette. All classifications and certification should be clearly visible on product labelling to show that they comply with the latest safety guidance. Finally, colour selection is not only about what fits in with the interior design, it is also strongly recommended that care be taken in choosing colours to suit particular locations. Medium to dark coloured carpets disguise soiling more effectively than plain, light shades and should therefore be considered for high traffic areas such as corridors. Taking all of this into account should mean you’ve selected a carpet, which is fit for purpose and will provide a flooring solution that is built to last.
Catherine Helliker is marketing manager at Danfloor UK