Broadloom carpet, as the name implies, is woven on a very wide loom. Most commonly shipped and installed in 12-foot wide large rolls, this type of carpet is still the most commonly used for wall-to-wall carpeting in both commercial and residential applications.
Carpet tiles – also known as modular carpet or carpet squares- are exactly that: square, modular tiles of carpeting, with an integrated backing material and base. Carpet tiles have become increasingly popular in high-traffic commercial applications, gaining a market share of approximately 30% in recent years.
Design, Installation and Appearance
The sheer number of broadloom carpet styles – from rich traditional colours and patterns to expressive contemporary designs – provides considerable creative possibilities. The modular nature of carpet tiles, however, provides nearly unlimited freedom for creative design without compromising the functional abilities of the flooring. Tiles can be quarter-turned to produce a checkerboard effect; multiple tiles and patterns can be used to create fun and unique spaces – a children’s play area in a health club, for example – that simply cannot be achieved with rolled-out carpeting.
With either product, the quality of installation is paramount. Patterns should be chosen to suit the application and hide imperfections. For example, a checker-patterned broadloom carpet that covers a long hallway will show whether the carpet was installed correctly as the eye follows the pattern. A more complex pattern – or none at all – would be better suited to this type of application.
As broadloom is typically installed over a carpet pad, there is a lessened need for minor imperfections in the subfloor – that is, the structural floor itself – to be corrected prior to installation. Carpet tiles, conversely, are mounted directly to the subfloor, so any imperfections may compromise the placement and durability of the tile itself, and must be corrected prior to installation. Provided the subfloor is as it should be, however, the eliminated need for an underlay material simplifies the installation process of carpet tiles. Carpet tiles can even be installed without moving furniture out of a room!
Spacing and alignment of tiles must be precise in order to prevent tiles’ edges from curling up or spreading apart, and to reduce visible seams and pattern shifts. Even with expert installation, however, carpet tiles will still show at least some seams and pattern variances, and should not be expected to look like a single piece of flooring to the extent that broadloom carpeting will.
Durability and Environmental Attributes
Whether broadloom carpeting or carpet tiles are installed, both will provide a warmer and more insulated floor than a hard surface material. The suitability of one over the other depends on a number of factors, such as volume of foot traffic, location of flooring, and the aesthetic desired. Either solution will perform best when a consistent and effective maintenance program is in place, as discussed in our <previous blog post (link).>
High quality broadloom with a moisture barrier backing offers excellent stain resistance and durability for most applications. Seams can be chemically welded for a virtually seamless appearance, and the variety of patterns allows for a great deal of creative freedom. In commercial-residential applications, broadloom imparts a warmer, more residential aesthetic and can be made to feel wonderfully plush underfoot with an appropriate underlay material.
Because the carpeting on carpet tiles is bonded directly to the dense vinyl backing material, carpet tiles naturally create a strong moisture barrier. The ability to replace damaged or soiled tiles individually and to rotate tiles from lower-traffic areas into high-traffic areas makes carpet tile a natural choice for high-traffic commercial applications. Installation of carpet tiles also produces less waste than broadloom, as there is no underlay material to cut, and smaller pieces of cut tiles may be used elsewhere. A supply of spare carpet tiles takes up little space, and is easy to store as part of a flooring maintenance program.
Both broadloom carpet and carpet tiles meet stringent environmental standards, and are often partially comprised of post-consumer recycled materials. Both types of flooring can be reclaimed and recycling where facilities exist.