Architect explains the benefits and applications of carpet tiles

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Cecilia Kugler from CK Design International started using Interface carpet tiles in 1999 and has used them to award winning success ever since.

Katoomba Library and Cultural Centre

The Katoomba Library by CK Design International is a finalist for the 2014 BPN Sustainability Awards.

Kugler chooses Interface because of the company’s sustainability credentials but always returns to carpet tiles because they are the pragmatic choice for her firm’s design speciality — library and education projects.

Three of Kugler’s projects — all libraries—were recently announced as finalists for the 2014 BPN Sustainability Awards, and they have one thing in common—they all use the same type of carpet tile.

“I will always choose carpet tiles, and the same brand of carpet tiles for that matter, over broadloom for my education projects as they are just so much more flexible,” said Kugler.

“There really aren’t many applications, except on some uneven surfaces and stairs, that you would choose broadloom over carpet tiles.”

Read on for insights and advice from Kugler as to where you should specify carpet tiles over broadloom.

Ease of Installation:

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Gordon Library by CK Design with Interface carpet tile. Image: Cecilia Kugler.

From the beginning carpet tiles are easier to handle; they are flat packed in boxes and easily freighted on pallets; the pallets can fit in elevators; they are easier to carry and they are predominantly less than 1sqm in size.

Carpet tiles can also be installed live, which is important for firms like Kugler’s whose work includes refurbishing libraries with thousands of books and shelves that are almost impossible to move out.

“You don’t have to take all the furniture and shelving out of the room when using carpet tiles, you just simply move it to the side and then move it back once the tiles are installed.”

Other examples of this flexibility include installation under partitions and cubicles in offices, and when recarpeting boardrooms with large desks that are difficult to remove from the room.

Design flexibility and wayfinding:

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Gordon Library incorporates different colours and textures in the carpet tiles to highlight changes in space and facility. Image: Cecilia Kugler.

“A big part of why I choose carpet tiles is the way that you can use them in a visual hierarchy,” says Kugler.

“Because of the colour and pattern options and their size, they are an effective way to implement wayfinding along the floor for my projects.”

Kugler explains that in places such as a library, where different sections offer very different types of activities, demarcations in carpet tile colour and patterns can be enough to subliminally prompt a person to change their experience of that space and act appropriately.

In the same light, carpet tiles offer flexibility in layout redesigns and refurbishments because you can simply lift and replace tiles where suited without relaying a whole floor space like with broadloom.

Another plus for carpet tiles is that unlike broadloom, they can be installed easily on a quarter turn, particularly because of their size.

Longevity:

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Long runs of broadloom carpet can sometimes mean clumping and moving of underlay. CK Design addressed this by choosing carpet tiles for the Katoomba Library project. Image: Robert Walsh.

Kugler believes that carpet tiles outperform broadloom carpets in terms of longevity, particularly in areas with high foot traffic and, in the instance of libraries, areas where heavy trolleys are pushed around.

“In areas with high foot traffic and — particularly on long runs of carpet — where heavy trolleys are pushed around broadloom is known for delamination.”

“Their underlays can also clump and move around especially when you are pushing heavy trolleys with hard wheels along them.”

Repair:

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If tiles need repair or replacement they can be ripped up and replaced on the spot without having to recarpet the entire floor; a great benefit to rooms with multiple colours and patterns. Image: Cecilia Kugler.

As already suggested, carpet tiles are easily removed and simple to replace, meaning repair and refurbishment doesn’t necessitate the ordeal of ripping up and relaying the whole floor. In instances where replacement tiles are needed, such as in water damaged or worn out areas, tiles are simply lifted and replaced, without the need of a professional.

Stairs, uneven surfaces and tight budgets; limitations

Kugler admits that carpet tiles aren’t for every application and suggests that “in general”, tiles are more expensive than broadloom.

She also highlighted that they can run into trouble with certain sized stairs and with uneven surfaces.

“Special glues are often needed to get them to stick to the vertical surfaces of stairs and it can be a long process laying every stair,” she explained.

“On areas that are uneven, such as when a builder leaves a large concrete blob on the slab, carpet tiles are not as good as broadloom at moulding to the surface and hiding the unevenness.”

“In some instances Masonite is even needed to level the surface before carpet tiles can be laid.”

 

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