The answer to the question «what type of carpet should I choose for my facility?» is not easy. One has to take into account many factors in order to find it, such as the budget you have at your disposal for carpeting, the type of use your carpeting is most likely to see and what sort of maintenance will you be able to provide for your carpet. But the one thing we know for sure is that the answer to this question can be boiled down to answering one other question, which is: what sort of carpet will be the easiest to clean?
Of course, this also depends on how often and in what way your carpet will be used. (disclaimer: of course the carpet will be used for walking on it, but frequency of use and the kind of feet/shoes can make a world of a difference – it’s definitely not the same thing when your carpet is in a hotel lobby where a lot of high heels and shoes will walk all over it, or if its in an apartment building hallway with a lot of pets and kids). And there is certainly no one single carpet manufacturer or material that will be the solution for all your conundrums. However, there are definitely some types and materials that stay in good shape for a longer time, providing you clean it in on a regular basis, in a proper manner, taking into account the type of weave and fiber.
The first thing is quite commonsensical: better quality materials are maintained more easily. So, if your budget allows, you should purchase a high quality carpet –the price is a good indicator, but if you are want more in-depth advice, one pro tip is that you should always check the density of the fibers: they should be dense enough that the backing is not seen when you bend the fibers back. High density is the key feature of “stain-resistant” carpets. It basically means the carpet will more easily repel dirt, particles and liquid due to having so many strands of fiber.
Here are the basic types of materials used for carpets, details on each fiber, which takes into account the price, the ease of maintenance and cleaning as well as durability
Acrylic fiber is known as man-made wool because it is an artificial fiber that provides the look and feel of wool at a fraction of the cost. Advantages of acrylic are that it resists static electricity, moisture, mildew, fading, crushing, staining, and sun damage. It is not however durable enough for high traffic areas.
Blends are typically made from nylon and olefin. This blend is resilient but the different fiber types often resist stains unevenly. Stains will often stand out prominently with these blends.
Nylon is the strongest fiber of all the carpets, with excellent resistance to abrasion, insects, molding, mildew, rot, and many chemicals. It is easy to maintain and dye, while upholding its color admirably. Nylon is durable and static free, maintains fiber height, and resists soiling or staining. All of which makes it the most popular carpet fiber by far (90%) for homes and heavily favored (65%) for all uses – both residential and commercial.
Nylon carpet is usually moderately priced, not quite as expensive as wool, but more expensive than polypropylene, and polyester. Nylon carpet of midlevel and higher quality can last up to 12 to 15 years.
Olefin Or Polypropylene
Olefin (polypropylene) is the next-best seller after nylon, making up about 80% of commercial carpet installations. Olefin fibers are colorfast, strong (resisting abrasion), mildew & moisture resistant, and easy to clean (bleach can be used safely in some cases). It is suitable for high traffic areas – even actually used for artificial sports turf.
Less expensive than wool, nylon, and polyester, olefin/polypropylene continues to gain popularity. Polypropylene is not exactly ‘crush resistant’ and can be prone to matting, crushing, and general scuffs, depending on the pile cut.
Polyester does not hold its fiber height under traffic and shifting weight as well as other carpet fibers. Polyester has a luxurious feel, is durable against abrasions, resistant to water soluble stains and easy to clean. Polyester can fade with bright sunlight.
Polyester Recycled Carpet Fiber
Polyester/PET or Polyethylene Terephthalate carpet has bright colors and is available in many textures. It is more stain resistant than nylon carpet and at least as resistant to mold and mildew. It is also non-allergenic. Some of it (if not all) is made from recycled bottle caps…about 50 soda bottle caps go into a square yard of carpet. Polyester/PET is also quite inexepensive, less than wool, and nylon. Since it is actually made of plastic, it would be a good idea to first test this in a single room to see how you like it, before going all out with this environmentally friendly carpet.
Wool is a purely natural product — luxurious, strong, and stain resistant. It maintains its fiber height very well. Soft to the touch and very dense, wool has a more comfortable feel than other carpet fibers; plus it will hide soil to a much greater effect than other synthetic fibers, mainly in part due to its opacity (other fibers are clear, and thus soil can be seen through it).
Wool is also quite durable, and easily dyed in many colors. It is an excellent choice for its rich appearance and luxury image; however, it must be maintained properly. It does tend to fade in sunlight, has low-resistance both to stains and to the chemicals used to remove stains.
When it comes to texture and patterns, one option is to go with choices that have darker shades which work well to conceal dirt. But a patterned weave could pose a problem if it is placed in an area where there is a lot of foot traffic, since dirt will more easily collect in recesses, which are more difficult to vacuum and clean in general.
But the most important thing by far, no matter what type of carpet you go with, is to have it cleaned professionally. Not only is it easiest for you, since you will be leaving it to pros to do the job, but the pros know that the nice appearance of your carpet and the ease with which it is achieved mostly comes down to one thing: having it cleaned regularly.
Of course, professional cleaners have access to professional-grade equipment and cleaning agents. More powerful steam cleaners mean more heat, which means that hard core dirt gets de-crusted and wiped away, while large vacuums have more suction power and will get even the most stubborn particles in the deepest recesses of the carpet.
If you go for dry cleaning (and depending on the type of fabric and the stain you are faced with, you may have to), you should definitely go with pros, please do not entertain thoughts of buying dry cleaning chemicals and using them yourself. Professionals know what chemicals work best for what types of carpet and stain, and more importantly, how much to use and how long to apply them.
What can I do to keep my carpet clean?
Some simple measures can go a long way towards keeping even high-use carpets in multifunctional facilities in good shape between visits by professional carpet cleaners. You could encourage people to wipe their shoes at the entrance, or have a tiled foyer entrance. Having a strict policy regarding food and drinks in carpeted areas makes a big difference, but may not be appropriate or good for customer relations or employee morale. Use common sense, your options may vary.
Even if you are supremely cautious, your carpet is still going to attract some dirt. Having somebody vacuum the most exposed areas regularly can make a world of difference and make the job of the pros much easier. Just make sure to vacuum in long, slow strokes, so you give the vacuum time to pick up the dirt.
Spillages are a carpet’s worst enemy. If your coffee or soda ends up on the carpet, the best possible course of action is to call professional cleaners – but do not just leave it at that, in the meantime, try to remove as much of the stain as soon as possible, i.e. immediately.
But there is a proper way to do this, because remember, you are not cleaning the stain, you are just making it sure that the stain will get cleaned more easily and thoroughly once professional help arrives. The proper procedure for this is to blot up as much of the stain as possible and remember, do not rub or scrub the area. If you have a wet-dry vacuum at your disposal, you can use it to remove much moisture from the carpet. The rest is out of your hands – but that does not mean you should worry, because it means that it is in our hands.