Building owners and facility managers have several options when specifying carpet and can select between tufted or woven products in various widths and sizes based on styling preference, budget considerations, backing performance needs (moisture impermeability) and facility requirements (installation, floor access). In the commercial market, the size options include broadloom, carpet modules and 6-foot carpet.
For the majority of commercial installations, broadloom carpet is specified because of fewer seams, ease of installation and certain moisture benefits. Broadloom carpet can be 12 foot, 13’6 feet or 15 foot in width. Broadloom carpet can offer large pattern repeats, the possibility of single dye lot up to a certain size if beck dyed and the ability to pattern match. For many years only broadloom carpet was used in commercial installations; however, now end users have various size choices with carpet modules and six-foot carpet.
Six-foot carpet and electronic cables
Six-foot-wide carpet is increasing in use and is available in many designs with a variety of backing systems to accommodate performance needs. This narrow carpet roll is often a benefit in high-rise buildings where transporting a 12-foot roll is difficult or expensive. The narrow width may also provide a cost savings where many hallways or other narrow spaces exist. However, careful planning is needed to avoid more seams.
Carpet companies are answering the commercial market's desire to use carpet in combination with the growing use of electronic cabling in offices and schools, and they may choose to use 6-foot carpet or tiles (see below). The answer is raised access flooring with attached cushion carpet. Manufacturers offer low-profile (2 5/8 inches high) system with varied configurations. The low profile systems can use as little of the vertical space as 2 ½ inches, a value when the ceiling height is only 8 feet. Modular carpet with a cushion backing is often chosen for noise reduction and increased underfoot comfort. Companies offer differing size configurations of raised flooring and depths to accommodate extensive wiring, and even duct work for heat and air systems, and use six-foot broadloom carpet or tiles (18 inches to 36 inches squares).
Carpet tile construction and installation
Continually changing configurations of open plan systems in offices and institutional settings have spurred advanced technologies in carpet tile, resulting in increased functional benefits. When the facility demands accommodation of flat electronic wiring, the facilitation of removal and installation and/or flexibility in design and replacement, modular tile may be the best choice. The possibility of rotating tiles where paths or soiling occur is sometimes a better alternative than a complete replacement.
There are also advancements in installation techniques. Modular tiles are being installed with standard adhesives, releasable adhesives and peel-and-stick adhesives, mill applied. In many facilities, modular tile installation is easier and offers less downtime and productivity loss than traditional carpet installation. The systems divider panels and office furniture do not have to be removed from the area, but simply lifted with a "jack" system and the tiles are installed underneath. An entire office area can often be re-carpeted in one overnight shift, rather than disrupting an office for days. This minimum disruption of business may make up the difference in the extra cost of the product and installation.
Modular tile backings include those made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), amorphous resins and polyurethane cushion. The "hard backs" (PVC and amorphous resin) offer dimensional stability and seam and edge integrity for easy pattern matching. PVC backings continue to be the most often used backings for modular tiles.
In addition, now there are "hard back" alternatives to PVC backings, primarily made of other polymeric compounds or amorphous resins and offering similar benefits as those of PVC. Comfort underfoot and added stability are the benefits primarily mentioned about the polyurethane cushioned tiles, but the immediate perception from employees and visitors is one of prestige and comfort.
Tile backing systems can also offer moisture barriers from the base of the pile yarn to the floor, preventing spills from penetrating and seeping down to the subfloor. In modular tiles, as well as with broadloom, a moisture barrier may be valuable in humid areas or healthcare environments where spills are inevitable and cleaning is frequent. The moisture barrier of the carpet itself and of the sealing technique for the seams may lessen the potential for bacterial growth and provide lower long-term maintenance costs.