It never ceases to amaze me that people selling floor covering know virtually nothing about it. This goes for retailers, contract dealers, architects, designers and specifiers. The wrong product in the wrong place is a formula for disaster and, unquestionably, failure. You can’t think something will work and then be surprised when it doesn’t if you really don’t know whether it will or won’t. Having the opportunity to see literally thousands of flooring failures over the last 38 years and still seeing them occur can be very frustrating. A large percentage of the failures have been due to somebody not knowing, and sometimes not caring, whether the flooring material will actually do what is expected of it as long as it looks good or goes with the decor. Most of the time that’s just looking good for the expected life of the product, whatever that may be. Too often a complaint arises within a very short period of time of installation that creates animosity and pain for all involved. When all is said and done inevitably the cause of the complaint is due to someone not understanding the product, its characteristics and performance aspects. It can be said, and often is, that “the product is performing up to the standards and characteristics to which it was designed, engineered and constructed.” This is also one of those situations where the truth will not set you free; it will actually ensnare you into the malaise of pain and suffering.
Here are just a few tips to keep you out of trouble. Light colors soil more than dark colors and using a light color in a high traffic area will cause the material to ugly out very quickly. For example, a recent installation on five floors in a corporate environment of a very light colored beige carpet that has coffee, beverage and food spills all over. This carpet will be a maintenance nightmare. It’s brand new, very expensive and was supposed to make a statement. Cut pile carpets will mat and crush and show traffic patterns. If you don’t want the traffic pattern to show you have to sell or specify carpet that is low, dense and loop pile. Cut and loop or tip sheared carpet with a high percentage of tip shear will cause the pattern in the carpet to wash out. This is a common problem in hospitality carpets. For example a tip sheared carpet (cut and loop) in the corridors of a new hotel generated a complaint for appearance retention – it does not look the way it did when first installed. The problem is too much cut pile in the carpet that mats down and causes the pattern to wash out when looking down the corridors. When the carpet is tip sheared the yarn opens up and blossoms. Since there is no twist in the yarn, it has virtually no resiliency and it will mat and crush. This is what will cause the pattern to wash out. Using the wrong fiber will also cause problems. For example, Polypropylene has no inherent resiliency, it will mat and crush and it will never come back up. If this type of carpet is sold into an environment, residential or commercial, expect complaints. It has many positive characteristics but resiliency is not one of them.
Remember this, there’s a product that will work for every application, you just have to know what that product is and as flooring industry professionals that’s expected of you. If you don’t know or need help call me, we know what will and won’t work, why and what you should use to stay out of trouble. This is not the type of economy where you can afford to make mistakes.