Flooring in schools needs to achieve a lot. Not only does it need to be extremely hardwearing and durable to withstand the excessive amounts of footfall, but it also needs to be cost-effective, appealing, and easy to maintain. When school flooring has so much to live up to, there’s a limited choice available. They also need to be conducive to learning. One of the most popular flooring types that are used widely throughout schools is carpet tiles. But are carpet tiles still an ideal flooring for school environments? With other floorings that can stand up to carpet tiles, we take a look at the case for and against.
Carpet tiles (or modular carpets) are squares of carpet that come packaged in pre-cut squares. When fitted, the individual tiles slot together, although sometimes they can be fitted down with an adhesive. With different options available, including shapes and sizes, carpet tiles have become extremely popular due to their versatility and durability.
Often used in commercial environments, carpet tiles provide more benefits than wall-to-wall carpets. Wall-to-wall carpets come in large bulky rolls that require special tools or a carpet fitter to fit and lay the carpet. Carpet tiles are much quicker and easier to install.
Benefits in schools
Carpet tiles have become so popular, that people are starting to use them in their homes too. And that’s no surprise, as there are many benefits of using carpet tiles.
One of the biggest reasons why carpet tiles remain popular within education establishments is how durable and hard-wearing they are.
Made with different layers, carpet tiles come with layers of fibreglass reinforcement and a precoat with preservatives. The carpet layer also comes with a non-woven primary backing too that helps to keep it going strong. The carpet material is also low pile looped and very tight, helping to keep dirt out.
The warmth and acoustic properties of carpet tiles also help make them stand out as an ideal flooring for schools. The natural acoustic properties of carpet tiles reduce the noise that classrooms can experience, helping to create a more positive environment for learning. Tiles with a cushioned back help provide more comfort for children sitting on the floor.
Learning environments need to strike a balance between function and aesthetics. There are plenty of colourful and creative carpet tile designs available for primary schools’ classrooms that can help create a positive learning environment. There are also more simple and executive colours and patterns that are more suited for secondary school classrooms. Either way, carpet tiles can help create the right impression in any learning environment.
Carpet tiles can even be mixed and matched to create unique patterns. Laying the tiles in a monolithic pattern helps to create a more uniform look. Alternatively, laying quarter-turn involves laying each tile at a 90-degree angle and can help break up the flooring pattern.
Compared to other flooring options, carpet tiles provide a much more cost-effective flooring choice for schools. As carpet tiles come pre-cut in a small unit, they can cover more meters squared compared to other wall-to-wall carpets. When schools have a tight budget, carpet tiles can seem an ideal choice, particularly for larger sized rooms. There’s also less wastage too compared to wall-to-wall carpets.
Easy maintenance and installation
Another benefit of carpet tiles in schools is that they are extremely easy to install and maintain. Because of the way carpet tiles come pre-cut, they can be purchased in units. Not only does that make transporting and handling easier, but it also makes it easier to install.
Due to the ease of installation, there is less disruption when it comes to replacing any tiles. It also makes it much easier to access any underfloor wiring and piping without the need to replace a floor afterwards. The carpet tiles can be replaced after the job is finished.
It’s just as easy to look after and clean the carpet tiles too. Usually, carpet tiles just require regular vacuuming to maintain and keep their appearance. An easy job that can be done after the school day. However, if a tile does become stained or needs cleaning, the tile can be taken up and treated. Once dry, it can be put back down. All in a day’s work!
The worst-case scenario is that a tile will need to be replaced. Providing you have some spares, that can be achieved in a matter of minutes due to the easy way carpet tiles are fitted. Carpet tiles also collect less dirt too, due to the fibres they are made of. That’s something that comes in handy with all the mud and dirt that gets brought in after break and lunchtimes.
Drawbacks in schools
School floors experience a lot of foot traffic, from queues in the corridor to walking in classrooms. The more carpet tiles have to withstand, the more chance they have of wearing. As carpet tiles are fitted individually, wear and fraying can occur around the edge of tiles. If not looked after, it could result in a trip hazard. Proper upkeep and monitoring is important with carpet tiles so that any tiles starting to show signs of wear can be quickly replaced.
While carpet tiles are easy to install, the subfloor plays a huge role. The subfloor is the flat surface that rests on joists and is the surface on which all other layers rest. Concrete slab floors can also be considered a subfloor. The subfloor needs to be flat to ensure any flooring, including carpets, does not sag, causing dips and bumps in your flooring. If a subfloor is not treated and levelled first, it can result in an imperfect look. Older school buildings may need the subfloor to be prepared first before fitting carpet tiles.
Carpet tiles are usually fitted down with a stick or glue backing. While at first the stick or glue is strong to keep the carpet tiles in place, it wears over time. As the stick starts to wear, the fitting becomes weaker causing the tiles to unpeel. It can also lead to the tiles becoming loose and can cause seams to get stuck when cleaning and maintaining. In addition to creating a trip hazard, it can also decrease the appeal of the floor.
Carpet tiles are absorbent in the same way that carpets are, which means the carpet fabric will absorb moisture and other allergens. During the pollen season, this can be bad news for anyone with allergies. With itchy eyes and running noses, it can be difficult to concentrate in a learning environment. Other allergies may also start to flare as the carpet absorbs allergens too. Regularly cleaning helps to ensure allergens do not build up inside the carpet tiles.
Other flooring options used in schools
Rubber is a flooring option that is seeing a rapid increase in primary schools, especially in younger kids playing areas. Rubber floors provide a much more uniform look to a floor, as well providing several other benefits that make them ideal for schools. The biggest advantage of rubber floors is that they are non-marking. No worries about the floor being damaged. The hard-wearing nature means they’ll be no worries about the high footfall.
Rubber floors are also incredibly easy to clean. All that’s required is regular vacuuming a couple of times a week and a once-weekly mopping with water and soap. Rubber floors are also great are slip resistance, so no worries about the kids running around! Rubber floors are also good at absorbing impact as well if they should fall over.
Other advantages of rubber flooring include:
- PVC free
- Sound absorbent
- Resistant to water, moisture, and stains
- Eco-friendly and recyclable
- Reasonable price
Luxury vinyl tiles have also started to see increased usage within schools as a low-cost alternative. More for canteen areas and where spillages are likely to be a regular occurrence, LVT can provide a flooring option that is scratch and stain-resistant. LVT can also emulate the look of other flooring helping to transform a space with something other than carpet. LVT is also extremely durable, hardwearing, and soft to walk on.
Carpet tiles still hold up as a strong flooring option for schools. With the durable and versatile nature being a significant factor, it is also the cost-effectiveness that makes carpet tiles an ideal choice. Other flooring options including rubber flooring and LVT are also available, which can provide an alternative option for schools looking to break away from the norm.
If you are looking for a flooring contractor to take on your next school flooring project, E&M Services have vast experience and expertise to help you get the highest levels of installation standards and quality. Our experience also covers carrying out flooring installation for schools. Take a look at our reception refurbishment at Hollyfast Primary School. We are members of Constructionline and CHAS, and all our team have up-to-date DBS checks in place, so can rest assured of a professional service. We are always happy to provide free samples, quotations, and advice.