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What makes a floor “commercial”?

Posted October 15, 2014 in Flooring, Carpets, Concrete
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Commercial floors come in a bewildering variety of floorcovering types and styles – carpets, resilients, and specialty hard surfaces all offer selections that are suitable for commercial applications.  Many of the visitors we receive on our website have come here searching for “commercial floors” – but what exactly makes a floor “commercial”?  The answer to that question varies with each available type of commercial floor.

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Commercial-grade carpet differs from residential carpet in several factors.  The first is the tightness of the weave: in residential carpets, underfoot comfort is given a higher priority because it’s more likely that people will walk on the carpet in bare feet, so the fibres are woven in a looser, “fluffier” loop to provide more cushioning with every step.  Commercial carpets prioritize durability over comfort, and offer a much tighter, lower, “harder” loop.  A commercial carpet’s tighter loop compresses much less under pressure, giving it improved resistance to long-term crush wear and more durability.  Commercial carpets differ from residential carpets also in their blend of raw materials that make up their fibres: while many residential carpets include a high level of thinner polypropylene to reduce weight and cost, most commercial carpets are more nylon-based to offer a longer service lifespan and greater resistance to wear.  Finally, the colours and patterns typically differ a great deal between residential and commercial carpets.  Residential styles are typically muted colours and softer patterns, whereas commercial carpets can offer loud, bold designs, designer colours, and strong geometric or random patterns designed to mask the stains, dirt, and heavy traffic patterns that are simply part of a commercial floor’s working life.

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Commercial-grade resilient flooring also has a number of differences that separate it from residential resilient floors.  Nearly all the residential resilients on the market offer very similar specifications for durability, rated lifespan, and other particulars – they differ only in their details, like colour and pattern.  Commercial resilients, however, vary a great deal from one another and from residentials.  Standard resilient commercial floors offer a substantially-thicker sacrificial wear surface than their residential counterparts, providing a heavier-duty layer of protection for the visible floor surface against the higher level of wear and tear experienced by commercial floors.  The wear layer on commercial floors is so thick in some cases that if it were to be installed in a residential application, the rated service lifespan is over 25+ years!  Commercial resilient floors also come in a wide variety of  different niche products to suit special-purpose applications, such as anti-slip safety flooring for commercial kitchens, or anti-bacterial and sterilizable non-porous flooring for healthcare applications like long term care facilities or operating rooms.

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Specialty hard surface commercial floors differ in a totally different way than carpets or resilients do, in that there is usually no lighter-duty residential equivalent at all!  Commercial-only styles of hard surface flooring like Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) are intended for commercial or industrial environments only, although they could be installed in a residence with no adverse effects.  Polished concrete is another example of this type of specialty hard surface flooring that lacks a lower-cost residential alternative; while its durability and lifespan make it a great choice for commercial or residential applications, its high initial cost usually makes it inaccessible to most residential customers.

Choosing a commercial floor can be a daunting task!  Give us a call or send us an email today and we’d be happy to help guide you through the many options to help you make the right choice for your needs.

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