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Standard Tests for Carpet Tiles
Specifying flooring for a commercial application requires at least a passing understanding of how it will perform in the workplace. Unfortunately, markings such as “contract quality” or “heavy household” are open to interpretation, making it difficult for the specifier to make an informed decision.
Simon Lawrence from UK carpet tile specialist, Bürofloor, gives some insight into the standard tests that can be applied to carpets that need to perform – and last – in the punishing commercial environment.
Commercial premises place high demands on the performance of any type of floor covering. When coffee is spilled at home, there is an immediate flurry of mopping and spraying with stain remover. In the workplace, it is more likely to be ignored and then passed on by unwiped outdoor shoes. Your sofa at home is moved when you need to remove dust or dirty toys from under it. The wheelchairs in your office travel miles, boring holes in the carpet tiles as they do so.
This means we need a benchmark by which we can judge the suitability of carpets or carpet tiles for commercial contract use. Fortunately, there are standardized tests to provide Euronorm (EN) and International Standards Organization (ISO) certification. True heavy duty contract products should carry the standards described here.
ISO 8543 – Effective pile weight
Carpet tiles need dense, tightly clustered pile to provide the necessary abrasion resistance. To provide a standard for this, ISO 8543 specifies a method for shaving the carpet down to its backing. It simply measures the mass of the removed pile in grams per square meters. In general, the greater the pile mass, the more durable the carpet tile will be.
ISO 1765 – Total thickness
This is another relatively simple test. In this case, the carpet tile is compressed with a standard weight, and then its thickness is measured to the nearest 0.1 mm.
EN 1963 – Lisson Treadwheel Test
This test measures the carpet’s resistance to wear, and highlights in particular how strongly the pile tufts are secured. The tread wheel is placed over the carpet to be tested and rolled back and forth over the sample 400 times. The wheel rotates slightly faster than it moves across the carpet, creating a strong abrasion effect. The tested carpet sample is compared with the master samples and evaluated accordingly. This is a particularly aggressive test that literally tears some types of carpet tiles apart. A pass under EN1963 is a strong indicator of good wear resistance.
ISO 10361 – Accelerated wear test
This standard is particularly relevant for carpet tiles to be used in an office. It is composed of two tests, the Vetterman drum test and the wheelchair test.
Vetterman drum test
The Vetterman Drum Test is intended to simulate heavy, focused footfall. Foot traffic tends to be concentrated around doorways or narrow passages between desks, and these areas can wear out quickly.
The carpet for testing is fixed inside a rotating metal drum. A heavy (7.5 kg) ball, covered with hard rubber protrusions, is placed inside the drum and allowed to bounce around freely. The carpet is subjected to two test programs, one with 5,000 rotations of the drum and one with 22,000 rotations.
The carpet is then visually assessed against master wear tests and given a rating for how well it has withstood the effects of the test.
The visual inspections of the carpet give results from 1 to 5 for both 5,000 and 22,000 revolutions, and the final result is a combination of the two results according to the formula below;
Total result = 0.75 x result after 5,000 spins + 0.25 x result after 22,000 spins
A result of 2 or more is passed
A result of 2.4 or more is a pass for intensive use
Castor chair test
Wheelchairs are particularly harmful, and the jagged holes they carry in floor coverings can be a tripping hazard. The results of this test should be an essential part of the office carpet specification.
The test rig rolls a chair with three wheels carrying a weight of 90 kg across the carpet. Two tests are used, one run for 5,000 and one for 25,000 cycles.
The tested samples are assessed visually in relation to standard samples and are rated on a scale of 1-5. The final result for the test is given according to the formula below;
Total result = 0.75 x result after 5,000 spins + 0.25 x result after 25,000 spins
ISO/DIS 10965 – Electrical resistance
This test is especially important for contract carpets that may well be in computer rooms where a build-up of static electricity can damage valuable equipment.
The carpet sample to be tested must be acclimatized for at least 7 days before the test at a temperature of 23+/-1°C and 25+/-2% relative humidity. This is because humidity has such a large influence on the conductivity of textiles and must be strictly controlled to obtain a meaningful test.
In this test regime, the carpet’s horizontal resistance and vertical resistance (in ohms) are measured.
Horizontal resistance: An insulating substrate is placed under the carpet tile sample, which must be stacked upwards. 2 electrodes are connected to the tile 200 mm apart and the resistance in ohms is measured between them.
Vertical resistance: Here the electrodes are above and below the carpet tile and the resistance in ohms is measured between them.
Measurements of less than 1010 Ohms are required for computer rooms.
ISO 3415 – Static load (compression test)
This test is designed to see how much the carpet is compressed by a weight placed on it. It repeats the effect of furniture on the carpet.
The thickness is measured before compression
A pressure of 220 kPa is applied for 15, 30 and 60 minutes.
The result is simply given in the loss of thickness in mm after
a recovery time of 1 hour.
ISO 140-8 acoustic properties
The test equipment for this standard consists of two rooms, one above the other and 5 hammers, each of 500 gr. The first test is to measure shock absorption – that is, how much shock noise is absorbed by the carpet sample.
First of all, the hammers are allowed to fall freely onto the floor of the upper room from a height of 4 cm, each hitting the floor 10 times per second. The noise in decibels is recorded in the space below.
The test is then repeated with the addition of the test carpet to the floor of the higher room.
The difference in decibels is the amount of impact noise that has been absorbed by the carpet sample. This test is interesting because it shows how well the carpet performs in stopping noise transmission compared to other floor coverings such as wood or vinyl.
For ISO 354, the absorption of ambient noise is measured. Noise of different frequencies; (125 – 250 – 500 – 1000 – 2000) is emitted into a room of 200m³ and the amount of noise returned from the floor is measured. This is then compared to the noise reflected by the floor when it is covered with sample material. A result of 0.5 in this test indicates that 50% of the noise that would have been reflected was absorbed by the test sample and that the remaining 50% was reflected by it.
ISO 2551 – Dimensional stability and EN 986 for tiles
Carpet tiles must retain their dimensions ±0.02% after the following treatments:
Heating to a temperature of 60°C for 2 hours
Bathing in water at a temperature of 20°C for 2 hours
Further heating to a temperature of 60°C for 24 hours
Conditioning under normal atmospheric conditions for 48 hours
These treatments show that the tiles will maintain their integrity under the harshest conditions such as hot water cleaning and extreme temperatures.
All floor coverings carry a hidden cost in the form of replacement costs. In commercial premises, this cost is further increased due to operational disruptions when installing new carpet tiles. Buying unwisely will inevitably lead to higher costs. A reputable supplier should respond favorably to a request for test data. Hopefully the information in this article will help make sense of the test specifications and support a properly informed choice.
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