Carpet in Schools
School design is widely recognized as positively affecting student learning and teacher satisfaction. Carpet contributes to good design by creating a welcoming, friendly, and less institutional space for students, teachers, and all school personnel. Carpet’s other benefits include:
- Improved Safety – With added traction, carpet helps prevent slips and falls. When falls do happen, chances of injury are greatly reduced on soft flooring.
- Increased Comfort – For teachers and other staff, a cushioned walking and standing surface reduces leg fatigue. Plus, carpet provides a non-glare surface that reduces reflection and eyestrain.
- Better insulation – Carpet is warmer to sit on or work on, extending the learning area to space on the floor, especially with younger children. Thermal comfort exists because carpet retains inside ambient temperatures longer.
- Costs less over time – Carpet that is properly selected, installed, and maintained lasts up to 10 years or longer. When product, installation and maintenance supplies and labor costs are considered over a 15- to 20-year period, carpet delivers lower life-cycle costs than other floor coverings. A Life-Cycle Cost Analysis for Floor Coverings in School Facilities
- Reduced noise – Based on a study by the American Society of Interior Designers, carpet is deemed to be 10 times more efficient in reducing noise compared with other flooring options. Also with carpet, less acoustic protection is needed on the ceiling and elsewhere in the interior space. This quieter environment provides a better learning atmosphere with fewer distractions.
- Improved IAQ – Carpet can improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) by capturing allergens in its fibers, thus preventing them from circulating back into the air. The allergens can then be removed through regular vacuuming. Additionally, carpet has lower chemical emissions than most indoor furnishings.
Healthcare and Eldercare Facilities
Carpet is extremely popular in all common public areas of healthcare facilities. It is also being used more often in patient rooms, wards, and nurseries, where it lends a feeling of warmth and comfort. However, carpet is not advised for use in areas where there may be excessive or frequent spills, such as in emergency and trauma areas, operating rooms, surgical recovery rooms, and labs.
Selecting the Right Carpet
Color selection: Color options are highly diverse and can be chosen to provide a variety of stimulating or soothing effects. Interestingly, color can play a significant role in facilities or units that care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, patients seem to remember colors better than numbers; therefore, color in carpet can provide a link to a specific hall or wing. In areas with visually impaired patients, brighter colors aid in depth perception and differentiation of areas.
Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans with Disabilities Act requires carpet to have a pile height of a half-inch or less, as measured from the bottom of the tuft.
Carpet construction: The look of a carpet is determined by its construction, which may be level loop, multi-level loop, cut pile, or combinations of cut and loop pile. In corridors, lobbies and patient care areas, loop piles tend to retain their appearance and resiliency and generally provide a better surface for rolling traffic, especially when the carpet has a low, dense construction. Cut pile or cut and loop pile carpet are both good choices for administrative areas.
Performance: In the healthcare market, carpet performance needs will determine what fibers, construction, backing systems, and treatments are specified. Again, the specifier must be able to delineate the highest priority performance requirements, so that the manufacturer’s representative can recommend products that will meet those expectations.
Fiber: Nylon, olefin (polypropylene), triexta and wool are the primary fibers used in commercial carpet for healthcare applications. Nylon accounts for approximately 80 percent of the overall commercial carpet market.
Nylon is by far the most prevalent fiber in use. It is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance, is easily cleaned, and can be stain resistant. Olefin is used where resistance to sunlight fading and chemicals is more important than durability. Triexta is a new fiber category developed by DuPont. Wool is a natural staple fiber, is durable, resilient, and self-extinguishing when burned.
Yarns can be either bulk continuous filament (BCF) or staple. Staple yarns are short fibers which may fuzz or lose fiber more than BCF; therefore, BCF is chosen more often for healthcare use.
The method by which carpet is dyed is important in the patient care areas. Solution dyeing is preferred in areas subject to stains and spills because the color is achieved by the pigment within the yarn. Other areas in healthcare facilities, such as offices, lobbies, and corridors may employ a variety of dye methods, such as stock dyeing, yarn dyeing, piece dyeing, and printing, all of which are dependent on the amount of pattern and colors needed for the interior appearance.
Static electricity considerations: Carpet can be specified to meet criteria for the static electricity tolerances of highly sensitive electronic areas, such as computer rooms or telemetry units.
Microbiological considerations: Antimicrobial treatments considered helpful in reducing the propagation and spread of microorganisms have been used in healthcare carpet since 1980. Antimicrobial treatment benefits a healthcare facility by providing insurance for when spots and spills cannot be immediately cleaned; however, it does not eliminate the need for a regular cleaning and maintenance plan.
Indoor air quality: Even though carpet emits the fewest VOCs of any floor covering, CRI developed its Green Label Plus programs to test and certify carpet, carpet cushion, and adhesives that emit the lowest amount of VOCs. Carpet has fewer emissions than other renovation and construction products, such as paint, wallboard, wall coverings, and cleaning materials. Furthermore, those low emissions clear within 48 to 72 hours, and more quickly with good ventilation. To ensure the best indoor environment in your healthcare facility, specify Green Label Plus products for your facility.
Installation: It is important to include requirements that dictate installation procedures, such as how the carpet will be installed, cushion type and weight, and delivery and installation schedules. When installing carpet, always adhere to industry standards as published in the CRI 104/105 Carpet Installation Standards. Remember, these are general standards and manufacturers will have more specific recommendations.
Maintenance: A consistent and thorough maintenance plan – plus a plan to address unusual spills – is crucial. Proper and regular maintenance of carpet will prolong its life and appearance. The carpet maintenance plan should follow the carpet manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning methods, include the use of Seal of Approval-certified products, and utilize CRI recommendations for commercial cleaning and maintenance.