Choosing carpet with the right properties for use throughout a project is essential. While one carpet might be suitable for high traffic areas, for example, another might be more suitable for areas where acoustics are an issue.
The properties to look for in a carpet include:
- Underfoot comfort
- Insulating properties
- Wear resistance
- Footstep suppression
- Fire resistance
- Soil resistance
- Moisture resistance
- Colour fastness
- Light fastness
- Light reflection
Depending on which properties are most required for your project, or sections of your project, look to the certifications and classifications to show you which carpet and carpet backing would be most suitable. Here are some of the most important classifications and certifications to look for to judge a carpet’s performance:
Long term appearance retention: EN 1307
The European standard for test and classification of textile floorings, EN 1307, is a standard that rates carpets on long term appearance retention. In order for a carpet product to be EN 1307 certified, it must go through an extensive testing program to determine both identification and performance characteristics. In order to determine identification characteristics, various elements are measured such as total mass, pile mass, pile density, total thickness, pile thickness, tuft number and backing thickness. Performance characteristics are divided into basic requirements such as long term appearance retention, colour fastness and additional requirements such as castor chair suitability, suitability for use on stairs, electrical properties, thermal resistance and fraying behaviour. Further requirements are imposed on carpet tiles, including total carpet weight, dimension, variation of size, squareness and straightness of edges, curling, damage at cut edge and dimensional stability.
On the basis of the EN 1307 test results, the carpet is categorised according to domestic and commercial performance area classification:
Domestic moderate and light usage. Suited for rooms and bedrooms. Not recommended for commercial use.
Domestic general and medium usage. Suited for living rooms. Not recommended for commercial use.
Class 22+ and class 23:
Domestic normal usage and domestic heavy usage respectively. Suited for living rooms, entrance halls, hallways and offices. Only recommended for very light commercial usage.
Moderate usage. Suited for light traffic areas like storage rooms, hotel rooms, residential facilities, conference and meeting rooms etc.
Normal usage: Suited for most commercial projects. Recommended for areas with a high, but not extreme amount of traffic like offices, libraries, cinemas, retail stores and restaurants.
Heavy usage. Suited for areas with very high amounts of traffic like airports, elevators, hotel reception halls, office entrance areas. Also recommended for projects with a high amount of expected spilling or soiling like educational institutions and in rooms or areas with a large amount of traffic from muddy outside areas.
The flammability characteristics of building materials, including carpets, greatly affect the speed at which a fire can spread. The slower a fire spreads, the greater the chance a building’s occupants can escape safely. Two fire tests and smoke tests are required for a carpet to achieve classification under European standards. For additional safety, many carpets are also treated with flame retardants. Brominated fire retardants are banned in some countries due to adverse effects on health and the environment. A safer alternative are flame retardant fillers that prevent flame spread and suppress smoke by releasing water molecules to ensure a prolonged evacuation time.
Look for this symbol
In most European countries, class Cfl-s1 is required before a carpet can be used in escape routes. Make sure to ask your carpet supplier about the local laws and regulations for your project if you are the least bit in doubt.
Additional noteworthy test symbols
Look for the following symbols to quickly see if a carpet has undergone testing for various suitabilities:
- Permanently suitable for castor chairs
- Suitable for castor chairs – occasional use
- Suitable for stairs
- Suitable for stairs – residential
- Permanently antistatic
- Suitable for heated floors
Colour fastness testing
Carpets are tested for colour fastness using dry rubbing, wet rubbing and wet spot resistance tests. When testing is completed, any colour change is assessed against a standard grey scale from 1-5, with 5 being the best result.
Carpets are tested for light fastness using artificial light to simulate exposure to daylight. The result of the light fastness test must be a minimum of 5 out of a total 8. In rooms with skylights or large windows, consider a carpet with a higher value.
Light reflection value
The ability to adjust the levels of light reflection is important for the comfort and final look of your project. A light-coloured carpet will reflect a greater proportion of light and will also require more maintenance to protect the appearance of the carpet. Understanding the light reflectance will also help you to efficiently plan lighting and visual contrast. Light reflection denotes the percentage of visible light reflected to the light of the human eye. If you have a LRV of 15, the surface in question reflects 15 % of the light striking it.
Vettermann Drum test: ISO 10361
To qualify for ISO 10361 classification a carpet must undergo the Vettermann Drum test, which is applied for detecting changes in appearance, which makes it comparable to the EN 1307. While the EN 1307 is a measurement of properties and attempts to give an idea of the recommended use on a general level, the ISO 10361 is a simulation test and is only concerned with foot traffic. By simulating walkways, the Vettermann Drum test provides an indication of the carpet’s ability to retain its appearance, which is particularly important for high traffic projects and areas like walkways and entrances.
After testing, the carpet is given a rating on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best result:
5: No change
4: Insignificant change
3: Clear change
2: Considerable change
1: Heavy change
A result of 2 or more is needed to pass and a result of 2.4 or above is needed for being approved for intensive use.