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Carpet Benefits

By Michael Hilton

Functional Benefits of Carpet

Carpet provides more than just beauty and design choices. Carpet's functional benefits offer many additional advantages not found in other flooring materials. Specifically, its functional benefits encompass:

ACOUSTICAL - Testing has shown that carpet acts as both a superior floor covering and a versatile acoustical material. Carpet absorbs ten times more airborne noise than any other flooring material and as much as most other types of standard acoustical materials. It virtually eliminates floor impact noises at the source. Since no other acoustical material "doubles" as a floor covering, and since no other material is as effective in reducing floor impact noise, the concept of carpet’s dual role as an acoustical flooring can mean even more substantial savings and greater planning flexibility. This dual role is never more obvious until you replace carpet with wood floors in your own home. The first step after hardwood installation is to purchase area rugs to cover the hardwood to reduce echo and sound reverberation. In actuality, the cost of carpet should be compared to the costs of other flooring materials plus an equivalent acoustical treatment, to appreciate this aspect of its total value.

BEAUTY - Carpet provides a tremendous choice of colors, textures, and designs to suit every taste. Custom designed carpet for the home also is available at reasonable prices. Carpet has a way of framing the furnishings in a room, which makes them look more important and distinctive.

ATMOSPHERE - The prestige and dignity that carpet lends to any business establishment or institution is widely recognized. Carpet dramatically enhances the feeling of quality in interior design - a major consideration in hotels and motels. Carpet also has the ability to provide a warm, cozy, comfortable environment for the home. Many commercial facilities, such as hospitals, select carpet to provide a more homelike environment. Studies have shown that this homelike environment can speed recovery and improve patient attitude.

THERMAL INSULATION - Physically, the pile construction of carpet is a highly efficient thermal insulator. Mechanical demonstrations have shown that over a cold concrete slab, carpet’s surface temperature is substantially higher than that of hard surface tile. Thus, carpet relieves coldness at foot and ankle levels. Additionally, it is conceivable that carpet may help sustain temperature levels in a home thus lowering heating and cooling bills. Because carpet insulates so well, it can extend the usable seating space in homes to the floor. Children can work or play on the in total safety and comfort.

Carpeting can reduce heat loss through the floor, especially if carpet is installed over a crawl space or concrete slab. Savings may be most noticeable in extreme climates an non-insulated floor Pile density and padding are the important factors to consider here. Thermal studies in elementary schools around the country have shown that carpet can provide an annual saving of $2,000 to $8,000 per year in energy savings alone. Based on carpet R-value in a home, carpet will pay for itself in nine years in energy savings.

For insulating value, wall-to-wall carpeting constructed with a deep, dense pile having a thick, densely air-pocketed urethane carpet padding serves you best.

Carpet used in any sun-lighted area fades less if solution- dyed. Neutral colors show the least fading, but darker colors absorb more heat into the space. Type 6,6 nylon, polyester, and olefin provide more resistance to sunlight fading.

Thermal tests to determine the thermal resistance or R-value of carpet alone and carpet with carpet padding combinations have shown R-values to range from 0.5 - 4.0. The R-value represents a resistance to heat flow; thus, the higher the R-value of a material, the better the insulation value of the material. The table below gives the typical R-values for some common materials, based upon equivalent one-inch-thick specimens.

Carpet is found to be a good insulator relative to concrete and plywood, which are common flooring materials.

In a study conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology and by Dynatech, Inc., there appeared to be a direct proportionality between total thickness of the test sample and the corresponding R-value for that sample. The test results indicated that the contribution of any component of the carpet, i.e., pile or carpet padding, to the total R-value is more dependent on the thickness of the component rather than the fiber and/or yarn type.

The study concluded that "in all cases, carpet was found to provide insulation value for any installation on a floor surface exposed to outside temperatures. In extreme climates, the dollar value of this insulation effect can be significant. "

Carpet color also may affect R-value. When a carpet color absorbs light, it turns the light into thermal energy (heat). The more light a color absorbs, the more thermal energy it produces. Black carpet absorbs all colors of light and therefore retains and reflects more heat than white carpet which reflects all colors. The colors of the spectrum appearing the darkest and most like black (violet, indigo, and forest green) will produce the most thermal energy. The other colors (red, orange, and yellow), will produce the least thermal energy because they appear lighter or more like white.1 Depending upon whether you are attempting to heat or cool and environment, carpet color may assist in lowering energy costs further.

SAFETY - The National Safety Council reports that falls cause most indoor injuries. Wet or polished hard surface floors are a major contributing factor. By contrast, carpet reduces the incidence of slips and falls in what might otherwise be high accident areas. It protects people who are in a hurry. Carpet’s ability to cushion falls and prevent serious injuries means savings in medical cost and man-hours to businessmen.

COMFORT - Carpet reduces "floor fatigue. " It feels better underfoot than a hard, unyielding surface. This characteristic is important to sales people, teachers, nurses, waiters - all who spend many hours on the feet during the course of their work. Carpet heightens morale and increases productivity by helping reduce fatigue.

Carpet also lends a psychological sense of warmth. Its color and texture relief the bareness of hard floor and reduce reflected glare, which might otherwise be annoying or distracting.

REDUCED MAINTENANCE - Homeowners who have ever used hard surface flooring should be aware of the regular sweeping and wet mopping of hard floors required to reduce dust levels. Carpet offers an advantage in that compared to hard surface flooring, maintenance is less bothersome. Carpet generally only requires regular vacuuming and periodic carpet cleaning, while hard surfaces require a rigid schedule of mopping and sweeping, which seems never-ending. Additionally, carpet reduces the amount of soil spread to other areas of the home. If you have ever noticed the soles of your feet are blackened when walking across hardwood flooring or other hard surface flooring material, you can appreciate the difficulties in keeping a hard floor clean. Also, have you ever noticed how basketball players continually wipe the soles of their sneakers to remove slippery soil?

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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Before You Enter the Flooring Store
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