Advances in Modular Carpet

July 31, 2006
With new design options, lower costs, and improved life-cycles, today’s modular carpet is ready for a variety of environments

Once thought of as expensive, visually unappealing, and impractical, the carpet tile of the ‘70s and ‘80s has been replaced by the modular carpet of today. Presenting facility managers and building owners with new design options, lower costs, and improved life-cycles, today’s modular carpet is ready for a variety of environments.

Improved Design
Some of the most impressive modular-carpet strides have occurred in their design and overall look. “Modular tile is now being embraced as a tile rather than trying to make it look like broadloom carpet. The modular aspect of carpet tile has become a design element,” explains Judith Ingalls, vice president of style and design at Dalton, GA-based Fortune Contract Inc.

Reduced Costs
In addition to the design advances in modular carpet, prices have decreased thanks to new technologies in product engineering. While it’s still more expensive than broadloom, the price of modular carpet is on its way down. Natalie Jones, vice president of brand management at Kennesaw, GA-based Lees Carpets, explains, “Where prices 10 years ago for carpet tile ranged from mid- to upper-$30s [per square yard], they are now steady in the low- to mid-$20s.”

“Making prices more reasonable has given facility managers a greater ability to meet their budgets and look to modular tile as a solution,” says Jeff Davis, vice president at Mohawk Commercial Carpet, Dalton, GA. Facilities can also save money on installation of modular carpet, which usually takes less time and causes less disruption than traditional carpet installation. Installers cut less extra material off of tiles than broadloom, saving money and reducing waste.

Easy Maintenance
A feature that has remained constant in the modular-carpet industry since its United States debut in the ‘70s is ease of maintenance. Users can remove individual tiles for cleaning and completely replace tiles showing excessive wear. Today’s varied tile placement helps make this process even more practical.

“Backing systems have also improved, yielding a stronger and [more] durable performance,” Davis remarks. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, Dalton, GA, the most popular modular carpet backings are those made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but new alternatives made of other polymeric compounds and amorphous resins are also available. These hard backings allow for seamless edges and dimensional stability. Cushion-backed modular carpet looks and feels more like broadloom, and new polyurethane backings have improved to support this expanding segment of the tile industry.

Modular carpet is also able to grow with a building. For example, its primary installation may be in an executive’s office, where it might remain for 7 years. Next, the carpet tile may move to an area with strictly in-house usage, like the employee breakroom. After 7 years there, the carpet tile might move to an industrial area (such as a manufacturing area or mailroom). Such a process allows for installation of newer products in the prominent areas of a building. “Replacing tile is also far easier and less invasive than replacing broadloom,” Davis comments.

Anne K. Goedken ([email protected]) is new products editor at Buildings magazine.

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