Carpet tile and ceramic can be a powerful combination for solving a lot of headaches in commercial installations.

Take a fresh look at how carpet tile and ceramic, separately or together, can make you a hero with your client and solve significant problems. Following are some examples of situations you could face on the job.

Job #1: The marble lobby of the upscale office building was absolutely beautiful but contributed to five “slip and fall” accidents.Likewise, using sealed brick pavers on the ground floor did not take into account moisture from outside. Both facility managers were told they must solve the insurance liability issue. They had tried commercial carpet runners in various widths, but in spite of their ability to absorb moisture and debris, they shifted, walked, wrinkled and also contributed to more than one fall. Besides, they looked temporary and certainly didn’t contribute to the class of the building.  

The answer for both managers was carpet tile. First, a frame to hold the carpet tile was custom built for each facility in the necessary width and length. The weight of the frame and the custom-assembled design kept the frame in place without attachment to the subfloor.

Next, the border frame color was selected to complement the existing décor and the carpet tile color. The carpet tile selected was designed to maximize the brushing action on shoe soles to remove debris and moisture. Daily vacuuming and weekly hot water extraction did a nice job of maintaining the carpet tile.

Both facilities also bought an extra stock of carpet tile so as to permit large area replacement as needed, using the same dye lot. This stopped the slip and fall accidents. Make sure to look carefully at the combination of products specified when you have an extremely heavily trafficked area with high soil and moisture.  

Job #2: The last time the condo committee replaced the wool axminster carpet in their high-rise condominium hallways there were numerous complaints about the obstruction while work was being completed.While in the design phase of this new project, a committee member asked the designer about using carpet tile rather than broadloom, wondering if installation might be more easily accomplished. He’d had recent experience with carpet tile in a commercial project.

The designer found out that while the design choices might be more limited, and an axminster carpet might not be readily available in carpet tile, new hospitality designs were being introduced all the time from several large manufacturers.  

After meeting with several mill reps, the designer reported back that carpet tile could be incorporated into their upcoming project. Carpet tile would be easier to transport to each floor using pallet jacks rather than handling 6’, 12’, or 13.6” broadloom. Additionally, installation could be more localized with less restriction of traffic, as well as being less costly and faster.

The design pro also mentioned the ease of spot replacement of carpet tile in case of significant damage to an area; this had happened previously when a pipe had broken and flooded an area. Replacement could be more easily done from extra stock from the same carpet dye lot. And so the committee accepted the designer’s carpet tile specification.

The higher unit cost of the carpet tile was offset by lower installation cost. The project was completed quickly, with fewer complaints by the owners. Everyone liked the new design and most didn’t even realize that carpet tile (rather than broadloom) had been installed. New designs and manufacturing expertise provided an excellent choice for this upscale community.

Job #3: Acres of modular systems furniture sat on old, worn-out broadloom carpet.Typical office furniture including desks, credenzas, chairs, file cabinets and computers sat in the office area. When the subject of carpet replacement came up, everyone rolled their eyes and talked about days of disruption and where to move everyone while the work was being done.

Dismantling modular system units would have ranged from $300 to $500 per workstation, and they would have had to be moved out of the area. Computers would have had to be unplugged, personnel relocated. In short, for the several weeks while work was being done, chaos would have reigned. More than one facility manager has said: “I have the money to replace the carpet, but cannot afford the disruption and loss of our personnel’s work productivity.”

Having seen this scenario many times, one talented installation contractor with imagination and a talent for designing tools found an answer. He developed (and patented) a series of lift jacks with attachments so as to permit the safe and stable lift of modular systems units in place rather than partial or complete disassembly. Lifting was done in small increments, and usually totaled less than 1” in height; just enough to remove the old carpet, prep the floor and slide in the new replacement carpet.

The higher cost of carpet tile is usually offset by its lower installation cost, as well as easier replacement.

For this new method of installation to be successful, carpet tile had to be used in lieu of broadloom. While there were initial complaints about the price of carpet tile (frequently double in price as compared with broadloom), this was offset by the less disruptive nature of installation and lower cost of ancillary services.

Job #4: The new billeting manager at a U.S. Army base was about to tear his hair out.Five buildings (about 200 two-person units), and he had a maintenance nightmare in dealing with the broadloom carpet. Every time an inspection was done he was written up on its below-average condition. The only good news was that he was due to replace the carpet in the next calendar year.

He discussed his frustration with an interior designer. She suggested they walk some random areas in the five buildings. Upon their inspection, it was apparent that most of the problem with the carpet’s appearance was immediately adjacent to the exterior doorway, not throughout the units.

The designer recommended a two-fold approach using carpet and ceramic tile. A tightly tufted commercial loop broadloom with an attached cushion backing was specified with a 12” ceramic tile for the 4’ by 4’ space just inside the door. The carpet should be a premium grade of solution-dyed nylon. The attached cushion would provide more comfort underfoot and increase the carpet’s appearance life by preventing fiber crushing for an extended period. By selecting a ceramic tile with a lightly embossed finish, slip resistance was retained and could be easily cleaned by the occupants.

With the selection of carpet and ceramic, maintenance became easier, more productive, and allowed each person in the unit to be a part of the solution in keeping up the appearance level.

Job #5: One challenge with any Event Center is noise control, with different groups frequently conducting events in adjacent area at the same time.Sound absorption is important. So is cleaning and maintenance since downtime may be limited.

One client came up with a novel way to carry through an “old world look” for their new restaurant/hospitality center and still use highly functional products. The main entrance way featured 18” ceramic tile set in a diagonal while connecting areas were done with a carpet tile in a 1” swirled ceramic pattern. From a distance, it looked as though the entire area was done in ceramic and the swirl design also provided superb camouflage.

  It was easy to maintain the ceramic entrance and food delivery areas, and the carpeted area greatly reduced the noise level and could also be spot cleaned as needed. This is a good example of design and function coming together for excellent results.

When you’re specifying your next project, consider the powerful combination of carpet tile and ceramic.