A report with considerable significance to both the professional cleaning and carpet cleaning industries was released in March 2014, but likely few in those industries are aware of it. This report, titled the Global Carpet Tile Market Report, was released by Market Research Reports, an international research firm. In a nutshell, it found that carpet tiles are finding their way into more and more corporate and institutional facilities, replacing hard-surface floors and traditional wall-to-wall carpet.
Carpet tiles, also known as carpet squares or modular carpeting, are pieces of carpet that have been cut into squares or rectangles and are designed to be installed directly over a hard-surface floor or subfloor. The demand for carpet tiles is strongest in the retail industry (stores), health care facilities, airports, and educational institutions, according to the report, and the strongest market for carpet tile is right here in North America.
The reasons for the growing interest in carpet tiles vary and may depend on the type of facility and how they are used. The key common denominators, however, are that carpet tiles are viewed as durable, lend themselves to flexible interior designs, and are functional and easy to maintain.
Other reasons are given as well. For instance, many building owners/managers like carpet tiles because soiled carpet squares can often be removed and new tiles inserted if they have excessive spots or stains. This is far less expensive than replacing an entire carpeted room.
Additionally, overall cost savings can be achieved. Compared to some carpet and hard-surface floors, carpet tiles are often less costly and can be installed less expensively than wall-to-wall carpet. Also, they offer sound absorption benefits not possible with a hard-surface floor.
All of these reasons point to why carpet tiles are becoming more popular and why cleaning professionals and carpet cleaning technicians should be aware of this trend. However, while the Global Carpet Tile Market Report indicates carpet tiles are “easy to maintain,” that conclusion may be open to discussion. Some carpet cleaning technicians have reported some of the following issues when cleaning carpet tiles:
- With the carpet extraction method, the amount of water used and the pressure of the machine may loosen or remove the tiles in the cleaning process.
- Excessive moisture can build up under the tile backings, potentially causing mold and mildew to develop.
- Wicking can occur; this is when soils and spots embedded in the carpet tiles surface during the drying process.
- Cleaning with a rotary-type machine, such as using the bonnet or shampoo method, also can loosen or even remove carpet tiles from the floor.
So if the extraction and rotary-cleaning methods prove problematic, what options do we have to properly deep-clean carpet tiles? What appears to be a solid option is a counter-rotating machine (also known as a cylindrical brush machine). Many of these machines are low-moisture, should not loosen or remove the tiles, and will clean them effectively.
These machines tend to have more contact pressure than comparable rotary machines, which means they can reach deeper into carpet fibers to remove soil. Because of the machines’ low-moisture characteristics, carpets dry relatively quickly, which promotes safety and allows just-cleaned areas to be open for use quickly.
Other than the cautions mentioned, carpet tiles can be maintained like other soft floor coverings. They should be vacuumed routinely and spotted as necessary. Also, to help minimize soil load overall, high-performance mats should be installed at all entries that lead to carpet tiles.