The secret to making a wise carpet purchase is to match the product's attributes to the amount of wear expected, the level of maintenance planned, and the desired life of the carpet. Before shopping, examine the wear of your existing carpet. The presence of stains, soiling, and traffic will help you determine the level of performance required from replacement carpet. The entrance on the 1st floor is bound to see more traffic than an executive office on the 7th floor, and the carpet you purchase (and its replacement schedule) should reflect this.
Appearance retention rating (ARR [soon to be called "texture appearance rating"]) measures how well carpet maintains its like-new appearance. The Dalton, GA-based Carpet & Rug Institute recommends carpet with an ARR of 2.5 or higher in areas of moderate traffic, 3.0 or higher in applications with heavy traffic, and 3.5 or higher where severe traffic occurs.
Choose patterns, textures, and colors wisely. Poor choices will result in carpet "uglying" out before it wears out. Light, solid colors such as beige, off-white, tan, and yellow do not camouflage dirt or stains well and can result in high maintenance costs. Carpet with multiple colors shows less soil than solid colors and, as a result, looks better longer. If a long life-cycle is the goal, Randy Weis, president, RD Weis, Port Chester, NY, notes, "Small patterns or highly textured products create interest in the carpet and give it good stain- and soil-hiding capabilities." Trendy patterns and colors aren't timeless. "Make sure that the styling is something you can live with for 20 years," warns Weis. Conversely, if the space is leased for a shorter term and carpet replacement is expected in 2 years, for example, you can make a more economical purchase and take greater risks with current design trends.
Making an educated purchasing decision also means understanding how fiber and backing influence the durability and performance of carpet. In places where beverage spills are common, the Carpet & Rug Institute recommends a moisture-resistant or impervious backing to keep liquid from penetrating through the carpet. Additionally, it recommends a fiber density of 5,000 to 7,000 (or higher) where foot traffic is heavy.
Once you've selected the best carpet for your facility, maintain it according to the manufacturer's specifications. According to Werner Braun, president, Carpet & Rug Institute: "You need to buy the right product from a wear perspective, but you also need to take care of it properly. If you don't do one or the other, you are not going to be very happy with your selection."