Extending from wall to wall, carpets are frequently used as floor coverings in residences, offices, and retail stores. They are often selected for the purpose because they offer foot comfort and, being available in many colors, patterns, and textures, attractive appearance. Rugs, often used as an alternative in residences, differ from carpets chiefly in being single pieces of definite shape and usually not covering an entire floor between walls.
A carpet is a thick, heavy fabric that is usually piled but could be woven or felted. Pile consists of closely placed loops of fiber, or tufts, that produce a raised surface on a backing to which they are locked. The tufts may be sheared to produce a soft, velvety surface with a wide variety of patterns and textures.
Sheared or unsheared, the piled fabric is very resilient, thus contributing to foot comfort. Nevertheless, thin pads, generally of foam rubber or plastic, often are placed under carpets, to improve resilience. They offer the additional advantage of absorbing minor irregularities in the floor surface that otherwise would cause rapid wear in local areas.
Fibers used for tufting indoor carpets include wool, acrylic, polyester, continuous- filament or heat-set spun nylon and nylon with antistatic treatment for high resistance to soiling. Pile weight generally ranges between 15 and 40 oz/yd2. The primary backing, to which the pile is tufted and which provides dimensional stability to the carpet, usually is polypropylene weighing 3.5 oz/yd2. A secondary backing, which generally is attached to the primary backing with a latex adhesive, is used to protect the underside of the carpet and improve other characteristics, such as resilience and noise absorption. The secondary backing usually is woven jute weighing 7 oz/yd2, nonwoven polypropylene weighing 3.5 oz/yd2, or 3⁄16-in-thick, high-density foam rubber weighing 38 oz/yd2, which eliminates the need for an underlying pad.
In selection of carpeting, consideration should be given to the intensity of traffic to which the covering will be subjected; availability of desired colors, patterns, and textures; colorfastness; resistance to crushing and matting; soil resistance; cleanability;
resistance to fuzzing, beading, and pilling; as measured by bundle wrap and latex penetration on the underside of the primary backing; subfloor conditions; and installed cost of the carpet. Colorfastness may be judged by performance in an 80- hr xenon-arc fadeometer test and in wet-method cleaning in accordance with Federal Specification DDD-C-001559 and by negligible crocking (color transfer to a white cloth). Preference should be given to carpets that meet the following requirements:
Flammability. Flame spread rating (ASTM E84) of 75 or less; flame propagation index (floor chamber test) of 4.0 or less (see Underwriters Laboratories Subject 992); and corrected maximum specific optical density of 450 or less in the National Institute of Standards and Technology smoke-density-chamber test.
Static propensity. 3.0 kV or less.
Acoustical Properties. Impact noise rating of 30 or more; impact insulation class 81 or more; NC 30 masking level of 30 or less; and noise reduction coefficient, measuring airborne sound absorption, of 0.5 or more.
Tuft Bind. Average force of 10 lb or more required to pull out tufts from the face of the carpet (ASTM D1335).
Installation of Carpet. Carpet is supplied usually in widths of 12 or 15 ft in rolls in long lengths. It may be cut to desired sizes and shapes with a carpet knife. Strips of carpet are laid side by side to extend the covering from wall to wall. Joints may be stitched or taped.
Installation should conform to recommendations of the carpet manufacturer. In general, carpet may be laid on any firm, smooth floor.
Carpets with jute or synthetic secondary backing generally should be stretched over a good-quality pad, to eliminate bulges, and anchored at the walls with tacks or tackless strips. With this type of installation, carpets may be removed easily when replacement is necessary. However, they must still be cleaned in place, may require restretching, and can be difficult to repair. (Power stretchers should be used for carpets with synthetic secondary backing.) Alternatively, this type of carpet may be directly cemented to subfloors, eliminating an underlying pad and future restretching.
But wearability may be lower and there may be a greater tendency to soil under heavy traffic.
Carpets with high-density foam-rubber backing also may be cemented directly to subfloors. Such carpets, however, are not suitable for carrying heavy traffic and may be difficult to remove when replacement is necessary.
In all cases, use of chair pads under castered chairs is desirable.