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Sheet Carpet vs Carpet Tiles in Education

April 1, 2021

Education settings, such as schools and colleges, are constantly tasked with cutting costs all while maintaining high standards for all members of staff and students. Maintenance costs are very much part of what such settings are looking to keep costs to a minimum, and the flooring solution of choice is a key factor.

With high amounts of traffic in communal areas of the school, as well as in classrooms themselves, a robust yet cost-effective solution is required and a decision has to be made between sheet carpeting and carpet tiles.

We are seeing a shift over time towards all types of modular flooring in commercial settings, with education falling into that category.

What are the Pros and Cons of Each Type of Flooring?

Deciding on the ideal solution of choice is dependent on several factors, such as the type and age of the building the flooring is being installed. For example, if the Selby Contract Flooring team were attending a university in an old period building, we would discuss if they would want carpet in the classrooms and stairs, as it is more in keeping with the surroundings.

In contrast, a modern school building would probably want to consider carpet tiles for a more up to date look. This would also depend on the subfloor, as a newer building with raised access panels would require carpet tiles instead of traditional sheet carpet so you can still gain access under the panels. However, in an environment which has such a high level of foot traffic, it is important to make the right choice if you want your new flooring to last the test of time.

Carpet

Carpets have been used in education for many years, the most popular of which is Supacord carpet, which is mainly used in classrooms and is made from 100% nylon – making for a highly-durable solution. Supacord carpet is available in widths of two and four metres and is stuck directly to the subfloor, as most carpets in education settings are.

  • Material costs

This can range from £12m2 for Supacord right up to £60m2 for a bespoke carpet for a special area. Depending on the size, shape and design of the area, the wastage with carpet tends to be slightly higher than for carpet tiles.

  • Installation costs

This would be dependent on the size of the area, but the cost will be higher than for carpet tiles as sheet carpet takes longer to install. This is because we would always have to prepare the subfloor and furniture would need to be removed from the area before installation.

  • Subfloor preparation

The subfloor must be either plyed or latexed prior to installation. The process must be carried out again every time the floor is renewed to kill off the old adhesive. Carpets cannot be stuck directly over raised access panels without denying access under the floor.

  • Maintenance

As the carpet is stuck to the floor, patch repairs are not possible so a more intense maintenance regime will be required to deal with any stains or the possibility of any clinical waste.

  • Design possibilities

As all carpet comes in certain widths, the design possibilities are limited. You can, however, opt for a patterned or bespoke printed carpet.

  • Comfort

Most primary schools nowadays have sitting areas for children on the floor. Unless a thicker piled carpet is used, this will be uncomfortable – especially for extended periods of sitting.

  • Recycling of carpet and the environment

Some companies will recycle certain types of carpet at an extra expense. Several types of carpets are manufactured with a small amount of recycled materials.

  • Wear warranties

All carpets that are rated Grade 33 (extra-heavy commercial use) and made of 100% nylon should be sold with a minimum 10-year wear warranty.

Overall

Although the material costs can be quite cheap, the installation and maintenance are more expensive. If you have a plan to replace your classroom flooring every five years, then you will have to factor in subfloor preparation costs every time.

Maintenance plans will be more extensive and costly as patch repairs cannot be carried out. If you want certification to show what you have done for the environment by recycling and using materials with a high rate of recycled and/or carbon-neutral materials, this will be more difficult to achieve using carpet.

Carpet Tiles

Carpet tiles have become more and more popular in education. Easy to install, replace, maintain and with endless design possibilities, carpet tiles seems to be education's soft flooring choice.

  • Material costs

This can range from £10m2 up to £35m2, depending on its design and makeup. The size, shape and design of the area will influence the wastage, but with carpet tiles, it should be slightly lower - therefore reducing costs.

  • Installation costs

This would be dependent on the size of the area and the design, but it will be lower than sheet carpet as carpet tiles are quicker to install. If we are replacing old carpet tiles with new carpet tiles, the lift and shift service can be used where no furniture would need to be moved from the area before installation.

  • Subfloor preparation

The first time carpet tiles are installed, the subfloor must be either plyed or latexed prior to installation. This process will not have to be done again the next time the tiles are replaced. This is because carpet tiles are stuck with a special adhesive called tackifier which stays tacky and allows carpet tiles to be taken up and replaced any time. Unlike with permanent adhesive, you will not need to re-latex the subfloor to kill off the old adhesive, just re-apply new adhesive when the new tiles are installed.

  • Maintenance

As the carpet tiles are stuck with tackifier adhesive, patch repairs are possible at any time by swapping old tiles for new ones. This means a less intense maintenance regime will be required to deal with any stains or the possibility of any clinical waste. Some carpet tiles that are popular in education are what we call batchless tiles. Batchless means that every time you purchase a box of tiles from that particular range you are guaranteed that the yarn colour batch will be identical, so when you replace tiles they will look the same colour.

  • Design possibilities

The design possibilities with carpet tiles are endless. Different laying patterns and shapes, and the use of different tiles within the same ranges or yarn colours, means that anything is possible design-wise.

  • Comfort

Most primary schools nowadays have sitting areas for children on the floor. Most carpet tiles are bitumen-backed and, therefore, just as uncomfortable as the carpet that is stuck directly to the floor. Cushioned-backed carpet tiles (with an attached underlay) are available to make them more comfortable and to extend the life of the tile.

  • Recycling of carpet and the environment

Selby Contract Flooring put all old carpet tiles in a re-entry/recycle scheme at no extra cost to our clients, providing certification to show how many m2 of flooring has been diverted from landfill. Most modern carpet tiles have a high rate of recycled material in the backing and pile, and can also be carbon-neutral.

  • Wear warranties

All carpet tiles that are rated Grade 33 (extra-heavy commercial use) and made of 100% Nylon should have a minimum 10-year wear warranty. Some cushioned-backed tiles have a 12 or 15-year wear warranty.

Overall

Carpet tiles are, generally, the more cost-effective solution in terms of installation and maintenance, as well as offering the user a broader range of design possibilities. For education settings, carpet tiles are the better option due to the lower level of waste and comfort the cushioned-back solution offers for children sitting on the floor.

For more information on choosing between carpet tiles and traditional sheet carpet, please get in touch with a member of the Selby Contract Flooring team today.

 

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