June 7, 2013

Werner Braun: Choosing the right carpet for the right application

How many times have you ordered a hamburger when what you really craved was a thick, juicy sirloin steak? Or, conversely, how often have you splurged on a seven-course meal when your budget could scarcely afford a Philly and fries?

We all know what it’s like to make the “wrong” decision when it comes to buying anything, from dinner out to purchasing a new car to choosing the most appropriate floorcovering for your home or business.

That’s because, instinctively, we all know the importance of getting the right product into the right place.

It should come as no surprise then that putting the wrong product in the wrong place is the biggest cause of carpet failure in our industry. It’s not the carpet’s installation or manufacturing defects as many people assume.

Take your typical elementary school, for example. A hardwood floor in a kindergarten classroom is usually not the “right product.” For acoustical purposes alone, carpeted floors in the classroom make the most sense, reducing noise pollution, thus making the atmosphere more conducive to learning. And in terms of safety and comfort, carpet is definitely preferable for young children. In most school settings, a sturdy industrial-grade, stain-resistant carpet is, hands down, the best fit.

Or consider a master bedroom in a high-end home. An industrial grade carpet would likely be unsatisfactory in terms of comfort and appearance. In this case, a soft, plush textured carpet, or a carpet made in the frieze, cable or cut and loop style, would be a better choice, especially if supported by a thick carpet pad for added comfort.

In a nutshell, you just can’t underestimate the importance of getting that right product into the right place. The key to avoiding problems, complaints and end user dissatisfaction is to specify and select the appropriate floorcovering from the get-go. A good rule of thumb is to ask the following questions when you’re in the middle of the process of either selecting or recommending the right floorcovering:

• What’s the right flooring to use in the particular application and why?

• Will it live up to end users expectations?

• Can it be installed without problems?

• Will it prematurely “ugly out”?

• Will it be reasonable to maintain?

• Will it last as long as you want it to?

Essentially, you have to know what to use where and how to use it. If you understand the product, you can avoid virtually all the problems that carpet industry officials encounter on a daily basis.

This means putting the right color, pattern, texture, construction, yarn system, backing and density into the location.

It’s also important to understand the environmental conditions that will influence the carpet’s performance, inside and outside, and how to install the product. In terms of installation, if the underlying surface is concrete and the carpet is to be glued to it, the concrete must be tested for moisture and residual agents. Basically it must be clean, dry and free of any compromising conditions or substances that will prevent it from being properly adhered.

Simply put, you must know the products you sell and the products you buy. Obtain the manufacturers’ and industry product information and guidelines, performance guidelines, installation instruction guidelines and maintenance manuals. Almost all of this information is available online from the manufacturers’ websites, but if not, it’s a good idea to simply place a call to ask questions before proceeding headlong into what may turn out to be an instance of putting the “wrong product“ into the “wrong place.”

Most importantly, you should always remember that the right product exists for every application. You just have to know what that is, how to use it, and how it should be installed and maintained. Know not only what you should do, but also what you shouldn’t do, in order to avoid problems. It’s better to find out ahead of time how to avoid a problem than to wonder afterwards what went wrong and why.

Werner Braun is president of Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.

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