Educational facilities often operate on tight budgets, and cosmetic updates to building interiors and exteriors are not always at the top of the priority list. When a school installs carpeting in classrooms, libraries, student centers or other areas, facility managers and other leaders expect the investment to last. Replacing carpet can be expensive, and the installation process can be disruptive, especially if large areas need fixing.
To prolong the time between installing new carpet and replacing it, it is important that those responsible for carpet care in schools understand installation and maintenance best practices.
Installing New Commercial Carpet
From ripples to shedding to snags, there are several carpet issues that you want to avoid. Proper carpet installation will help keep your commercial carpet in good condition. Carpet installation best practices include:
- Check your warranty – Carpet manufacturers often provide warranties against issues such as fraying and raveling. Check your warranty to be sure that you understand what is covered and what would fall outside of a claim. If you do decide to make a claim, you must be able to demonstrate that you installed the carpet according to the manufacturer’s instructions and industry standards and that your issues are not a result of faulty installation.
- Use seam sealer – Seam sealer is essential for avoiding unraveling at the edges of your carpet and delamination, which is when the carpet separates from its backing. Applying seam sealer properly is key. Do not apply the seam sealer to the substrate. CRI 104 installation guidelines require a 1/8-inch continuous bead of seam adhesive on the cut edge.
- Be mindful of your carpet pattern – Whether you are installing carpet tiles or larger sections of wall-to-wall carpet, it is important that your pattern is applied in the right way. Keep in mind that the correct way is entirely up to you. While some facilities purposely rotate and mix carpet tiles for a more abstract design, you may be going for a more uniform look. Make sure that your installation team matches up the pattern as best as possible if that is your design goal. You may also want to install the pattern in the same direction across different spaces, like in a library and adjoining computer rooms.
Maintaining your Flooring
A well-planned approach to carpet care will keep your flooring looking like new for years to come. Consider the following carpet maintenance best practices as part of your program, which we refer to as the four cornerstones of carpet maintenance:
- Install matting in entrances and beyond – Entrance matting gives students, staff and visitors a place to scrape dirt, sand, road salt and other soils from their shoes so the bulk of it does not end up in your carpet fibers. You may also want to install matting in areas where there is a transition from hard surfaces to carpet, such as at the entrance of a library in a hallway with vinyl tile.
- Vacuum regularly – Daily vacuuming keeps the soils captured in matting and carpet from negatively impacting the appearance of your floors. Consider a commercial vacuum recommended by the Carpet and Rug Institute to ensure the vacuum has passed tests related to soil removal, dust containment and surface appearance change. Members of the vacuum crew should perform daily visual inspections. Spills and spot removal can be accomplished with the proper equipment at this time.
- Use low-moisture encapsulation to effectively clean – Providing employees with an easy-to-use, safe and sustainable carpet care system will encourage them to perform interim maintenance. Low-moisture encapsulation is a favored approach because it captures soils in a clear polymer that can be removed through vacuuming. The carpet is dry 30 minutes after cleaning with the machine and chemistry.
- Conduct hot water extraction every so often – If you have been diligent with your interim maintenance, you can likely go 12 months without hot water extraction. The hot water extraction process is more intensive and time consuming, so limiting it to once per year is ideal.
Make your Carpet Last
There are two things you need to ensure long-lasting carpet: proper carpet installation procedures and regular maintenance. Understanding installation risks and avoiding these mistakes sets you off on the right foot when your carpet is new. Once your commercial carpet is properly in place, it is best to incorporate the four cornerstones of carpet care. This includes installing matting to keep carpet cleaner, vacuuming and spot removal daily, conducting interim maintenance and scheduling hot water extraction annually.
Extending the lifespan of your carpet not only reduces the costs associated with selecting, purchasing and installing flooring for your educational facility, it also limits unnecessary landfill waste. Plus, proper installation and maintenance helps you maintain the beauty of your carpet and achieve an aesthetic that suits your brand.
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