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## Standard Tests for Carpet Tiles

Specifying a floor covering for a commercial application requires at least a clear understanding of how it will perform in the workplace. Unfortunately, marks like “contract quality” or “heavy domestic” are open to interpretation, making it difficult to inform the specifier. decision.

UK carpet tile specialist, Simon Lawrence of Burofloor offers some insight into the standard tests that can be applied to carpets – to perform in a punishing commercial environment – and ultimately – to carpet.

Commercial premises place heavy performance requirements on any type of floor covering. When coffee gets into the house there’s an immediate trick to spritzing and spraying with stain remover. It is more likely to be overlooked in the workplace and then walk around in ill-fitting outdoor shoes. Your home sofa is moved when needed to remove dust or dingy toys from underneath. Your office caster chairs travel miles, boring holes in carpet tiles as they do.

This means we need a benchmark by which we can judge the suitability of carpet or carpet tiles for commercial contract use. Fortunately there are standardized tests to provide Euronorm (EN) and International Standards Organization (ISO) certification. Actual heavy contract products must carry the standards described here.

ISO 8543 – Effective pile weight

Carpet tiles require a dense, closely-grouped pile to provide the necessary wear resistance. To provide a standard for this, ISO 8543 specifies a method of shaving down the carpet on its support. It simply measures the mass of the pile removed in grams per square meter. Generally, the heavier the pile load, the harder the carpet tile.

ISO 1765 – Total thickness

This is another relatively simple test. In this case the carpet tile is compressed by a standard weight, and then its thickness is measured to the nearest 0.1mm.

EN 1963 – Lisson Treadwheel Test

This test measures the carpet’s resistance to scuffing, particularly highlighting how strongly the pile tufts are protected. A treadwheel is placed on top of the carpet to be tested and rotated 400 times on the sample. The wheel spins a little faster than it moves on the carpet which creates a serious scuffing effect. The tested carpet sample is compared with the master samples and evaluated accordingly. This is a particularly aggressive test, literally tearing some types of carpet tiles to pieces. A pass under EN1963 is a strong indicator of good wear resistance.

ISO 10361 – Accelerated wear testing

This standard is particularly relevant for carpet tiles used in offices. It is made up of two tests, the Vetterman drum test and the caster chair test.

Vetterman drum test

The Vetterman drum test is intended to simulate a heavy, focused footfall. Foot traffic tends to concentrate around narrow passages between doors or desks, and these areas can quickly become congested.

The carpet for testing is fixed inside a rotating metal drum. A heavy (7.5 kg) ball, covered in hard rubber protrusions, is placed inside the drum and allowed to bounce around freely. The carpet is subjected to two test programs, one of 5,000 rotations of the drum and one of 22,000 rotations.

The carpet is then visually judged against master wear samples and rated on how well it has withstood the effects of the test.

Visual inspection of the carpet gives results from 1 to 5 for 5,000 and 22,000 cycles and the final result is a combination of the two results as per the formula below;

Total result = 0.75 x result after 5,000 rotations + 0.25 x result after 22,000 rotations

A result of 2 or more is a pass

A result of 2.4 or higher is a pass for intensive use

The caster chair test

Caster chairs are particularly harmful, and the ragged holes they wear in floor coverings can represent a tripping hazard. The results of this test should be an essential part of the office carpet specification.

The test rig rotates a three-castor chair carrying a weight of 90 kg on a carpet. Two samples are used, one for 5,000 and the other for 25,000 cycles.

Tested samples are visually evaluated against standard samples and rated on a scale of 1-5. The final result of the exam is given as per the below formula;

Total result = 0.75 x result after 5,000 rotations + 0.25 x result after 25,000 rotations

ISO/DIS 10965 – Electrical resistance

This test is especially important for contract carpets that can be found well in computer rooms where the build-up of static electricity can damage valuable equipment.

The carpet sample to be tested must be acclimatized at least 7 days before at a temperature of 23+/-1°C and 25+/-2% relative humidity. This is because humidity greatly affects the conductivity of the fabric and must be tightly controlled to obtain a meaningful test.

In this test system the horizontal resistance and vertical resistance of the carpet are measured (in ohms).

Horizontal resistance: A separate underlay is placed under the carpet tile sample which must be piled on top. 2 electrodes are attached to the tile at a distance of 200 mm and the resistance between them is measured in ohms.

Vertical resistance: Here the electrodes are on the top and bottom of the carpet tile and the resistance between them is measured in Ohms.

A measurement of less than 1010 Ohms is required for a computer room.

ISO 3415 – Static loading (compression test)

This test is designed to see how much the carpet is compressed by a weight placed on it. It replicates the effect of the furniture on the carpet.

Thickness is measured before compression

A pressure of 220 kPa is applied for 15, 30 and 60 minutes.

The results are given in thickness loss after only mm

1 hour recovery period.

ISO 140-8 Acoustic Properties

The test apparatus for this standard consists of two places, one above the other and 5 hammers, each 500 g. The first test is to measure impact absorption – ie how much impact noise the carpet sample absorbs.

First the hammers are allowed to fall freely from a height of 4 cm to the floor of the elevated space, each striking the floor 10 times/s. Sound in decibels is recorded below.

The test is then repeated by adding the sample carpet to the floor of the elevated location.

The difference in decibels is the amount of impact noise that is absorbed by the carpet sample. This test is interesting because it shows how well carpet performs at preventing noise transmission compared to other floor coverings such as wood or vinyl.

Absorption of ambient noise is measured for ISO 354. noise of different frequencies; (125 – 250 – 500 – 1000 – 2000) is transmitted into a room of 200m³ and the amount of sound bounced back from the floor is measured. This is compared to the sound reflected from the floor when covered with sample material. A result of 0.5 in this test indicates that 50% of the reflected sound was absorbed by the test specimen and the remaining 50% was reflected by it.

ISO 2551 – Dimensional stability and EN 986 for tiles

Carpet tiles shall retain their dimensions ± 0.02% after the following treatments:

Heating at 60 °C for 2 hours

2 hours in a water bath at a temperature of 20°C

Further heating at 60 °C for 24 hours

Conditioning at normal atmospheric conditions for 48 hours

These treatments show that the tiles will maintain their integrity under harsh conditions such as hot water cleaning and extreme temperatures.

Cost of ownership

All floor coverings carry a hidden expense in the form of replacement costs. This cost is further increased by the business interruption of installing new carpet tiles in commercial premises. Buying unwisely will inevitably lead to higher expenses. A reputable supplier should respond positively to requests for test data. Hopefully the information in this article will help you understand the test specifications and support a properly informed choice.

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