4 FM quick reads on Carpet
1. Several Factors Determine Carpet Quality
Today's tip is to know what goes into the quality of a carpet. The major factors to consider are fiber, pile and color, backing, and density.
Nylon and olefin are the two leading carpet fibers used in commercial applications, while wool is the leading natural fiber. Nylon fibers are extremely strong and flexible. The naturally hard surface offers excellent wearability and resilience, but it cannot dissipate static electricity, which could damage sensitive electronic equipment. To reduce static, manufacturers add carbonized fiber to the nylon yarn.
Olefin is less expensive than nylon but not as hard or crush-resistant. It offers excellent resistance to moisture and resists fading, chemicals and stains. One of the biggest drawbacks of olefin fibers is their low melting point; the friction when objects are dragged across the carpet can damage the fibers. But olefin does not generate static electricity.
Wool is the most expensive. Its fibers are durable, resisting both crushing and matting. It is not stain-resistant, but it hides dirt very well.
The two basic types of piles are cut pile and loop pile. In cut pile construction, the fibers are cut at the top surface of the carpet. In general, cut piles are not as durable as looped piles, for which individual strands of yarn are looped through the backing. Carpets with short, tightly packed loops are effective dirt-blockers.
Backing materials provide strength and stability. Backings are available with a moisture barrier designed to keep fluid spills from seeping through.
Another measure of quality is the amount of yarn needed to fill a given length of carpet. The higher the yarn count, the finer the yarn used in the construction of the carpet. Also, the number of yarn tufts in one row of one inch of carpet, known as the stitches per inch, will vary with the quality of the carpet. Face weight measures the yarn's face fiber. For high quality carpet, face weight is typically 32 ounces per square yard or higher.
A carpet's density measures the weight of the pile yarn corrected for the height of the yarn. For most commercial applications, a carpet density of 4,000 to 7,000 is considered suitable, with high-traffic areas requiring densities of 5,000 or more.
2. Variety of Carpet Options Can Earn LEED Points
In the world of carpet, capturing LEED points is a viable goal in a variety of categories. MR in LEED for New Construction (NC) is one example. LEED points for carpet selection can be gained by focusing on reuse, such as mandating the use of existing interior nonstructural floor covering elements in at least 50 percent of the completed building. The premise is to extend product lifecycles, conserve resources, retain cultural resources and reduce waste.
Up to two points are available under MR in LEED-NC if the project diverts construction and demolition debris from disposal in landfills and incineration facilities. The motivation is to re-direct recyclable recovered resources back to the manufacturing process and reusable materials to appropriate sites. Facility managers can help work toward LEED points regarding the use of carpet by mandating the recycling or salvaging of nonhazardous construction and demolition debris, establishing goals for diversion from disposal in landfills and incineration facilities, and adopting a construction waste management program. Still another one to two points can be had in the MR section if flooring materials are reused. Salvaged, refurbished or reused materials should constitute at least 5 percent of the total value of materials on the project. Materials with recycled content that make up at least 10 percent of the cost of the project materials also help capture LEED points.
Wood products have received a lot of attention lately, thanks to import issues from China. For LEED credits, points are available to encourage environmentally responsible forest management. In just one of several criteria dedicated to wood, LEED parameters require using a minimum of 50 percent (based on costs) of wood-based materials and products that are certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council's principles and criteria for wood building components.
3. Carpet Reclamation Costs
When calculating the life-cycle cost of carpeting options, don't overlook the cost of reclamation at the end of the product's life. A growing trend in the carpet industry is recycling carpet tiles to produce new product. Because of this, some manufacturers are offering carpet reclamation and transportation free of cost. With the green movement growing, there's an increasing desire for recycled content carpet from manufacturers — resulting in an end-of-life cost savings for facility managers.
4. Questions to Consider When Choosing Flooring
There’s a number of important questions that facility executives should ask themselves when deciding on what type of flooring to install in a facility. Four of the most important are:
How will the space be used? The needs of the occupants will dictate what the flooring needs to deliver. Are there special circumstances like hygiene or static considerations?
Is sustainability important? Besides recycled content of a flooring, look at a flooring’s rated service life and longevity. The less you need to replace a floor, the less waste goes to landfills.
How much maintenance should we expect to perform? Some floors require more maintenance than others to keep up a high aesthetic standard. Determine if your facilities team can perform the required maintenance realistically.
What can we afford? Be sure you examine the life-cycle cost of the flooring, not just the first costs, or you may be in for a nasty surprise down the road.
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