Thursday, April 29, 2010

Carpet Trends, Carpet Maintenance: Carpet Salesman's Advice

David Fellt, Carpet Salesman

Great Carpet Salesman Talks about Trends and What Customers Need to Know about Maintenance

I spent a few days recently with my sister in Indianapolis. One of the activities she had planned for my visit was to help her choose new carpet for her house. It sounded like fun – I write about carpet all the time, but I don’t get to shop for it very often.

We went to three flooring specialty retailers – all really nice stores, with gorgeous products and attentive salespeople. The salesman at Carpet One Floor and Home Indianapolis really stood out. His name is David Feltt, and he is without a doubt the best carpet salesperson I have ever encountered. Not only did he know his product, he talked to my sister about different fibers, the pros and cons of various construction types, and, to my personal delight, how to maintain carpet warranties through proper cleaning and maintenance.

I asked David to talk to me for the CRI blog.

CRI: What kinds of trends are you seeing? Broadloom as area rugs?

DF: It's a major portion of our business. Need a rug 54 and 3/8 inches by 109 and 15/16 inches? We can do that. Try to find that off the rack.

CRI: Patterned carpet?

DF: Patterned carpet is a niche product. It goes wonderfully in certain areas of a home, but seldom in a whole house. Great for libraries or dens or special bedrooms.

CRI: Cut and loop or frieze styles?

DF: Friezes are probably close to 40 percent of our business. Where olefin Berbers used to go, friezes now dominate. Cut and loop is my favorite style. Short and tight, just what I want to see in a carpet. Gravity eventually pulls us all six feet under. Gravity works on carpet too. If a carpet is short and tightly twisted, there are seldom any complaints. I love cut and loop.

CRI: You talked to us about warranties and carpet cleaning - is that something you address with most carpet shoppers?

DF: I try. I remember very distinctly going to a client's home who had stain issues with a carpet which had a 25 year stain warranty. The warranty stipulated (as all warranties stipulate) that the carpet must be professionally cleaned using hot water extraction at least every two years. The client called me in at 26 months with no cleaning record. Even though she was given warranty information, I still feel awful about that encounter. I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm teachable. Vacuum often and steam clean at the first sign of soiling.

CRI: Are you familiar with CRI's Seal of Approval program? CRI tests carpet cleaning solutions, vacuum cleaners, and cleaning systems, and lists the best performing ones on our website:

DF: I am certainly familiar with CRI's Seal of Approval program. I refer folks to it often and I use it myself. It's a great resource.

CRI: How are your customers' concerns about carpet and asthma/allergy and Indoor Air Quality affecting their feelings about carpet?

DF: We all know that there are virtually no VOCs from carpet. Once in a blue moon, someone will enter my showroom and have to leave because of the odor. But we have engineered woods and laminates and vinyl products in the showroom as well. Who knows what sets off the sniffling?

Many seem convinced that carpet is unhealthy. I refute that at every opportunity and thanks to CRI I have some ammunition. If a family wants a hardwood floor in their living room for the aesthetic quality and long life and increase in value, then that's great. If they want it to help their son's allergies, then we must talk.

There is an urban legend regarding carpet and allergies. And as any of my close friends will tell you, I abhor urban legends. I fight the perception that carpet enhances allergies on a daily basis. Thank goodness I have resources like the CRI to dispel those urban myths.

CRI: Are men and women different in their flooring preferences?

DF: Not to sound misogynistic, but my experience is that most women prefer hard surfaces (easier to clean up after the dog or the child) and that most men prefer carpet (don't want those toes to hit bare floor in the morning). Carpet is warm, it is quieting; it is inviting.

CRI: Is it a better value during a tough economy?

DF: Absolutely. Many folks are in a position to sell their houses in these economic times. Often what needs the most attention is the carpet. It's pretty hard to upsell someone who is upside down on their mortgage and has to replace the carpet before they can sell. But for those who have decided to stay put, a quality carpet will serve them for many years. Sixty years ago, it became the rage to cover old hardwood floors with carpet for many reasons, including drafty rooms, wax finishes, dents and scrapes – back then, carpet was a godsend.

CRI: Parting shot?

DF: Take care of your carpet. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Have it professionally steamed cleaned. Carpet is by no means on its way out.

Thanks, David!

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In the end, my sister made her carpet decision based on color. “That’s the single most important factor,” David says.

The more things change…

~Bethany

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Great Carpet Advice for Asthma/Allergy Sufferers

UBS Clean Care

Great Advice on Carpet and Asthma from an Indiana Carpet Cleaner

I love it when I find great information online about carpet. In the maelstrom of myth and misinformation surrounding carpet on the internet, every now and then I find a nugget of solid advice. In this case, it’s a blog post written by David Gruttadaurio who owns UBS Clean Care in Indiana.

David’s blog post is entitled, Carpeting and Asthma/Allergy Sufferers - a Bad Mix?, and it is a straightforward, comprehensive look at the topic that is fun to read. I urge you to read his original post, but here are some excerpts:

Is ripping out the carpet the answer?

This is what I do know for sure - only 12 people out of 100 clean their carpeting… ever. Of that number, about a third chooses to do it themselves. Vacuuming? Most people say they vacuum every week. The honest ones tell me they’re lucky to vacuum the carpets once a month...

How many people would tolerate their hard surface flooring (tile, wood, etc.) having spills and food and mud and grease all over it… and then keep it that way for years!...

Is it any wonder that health issues are aggravated by an unhealthy and bacteria infested carpet? It’s not the poor carpet’s fault. All it needs is routine maintenance.

How routine? Vacuum it twice a week with a quality vacuum that has high-efficiency micro-filtration bags. Micro-filtration bags will trap even the tiniest of particles, such as dust mites and their feces, to keep it from becoming airborne.

Then have it professionally cleaned at least once a year (preferably twice a year). Every major carpet manufacturer recommends this same routine.

The construction issue

Many people feel that since hard flooring is… well, hard… that it’s a more sanitary surface since there is no place for the dust to settle. And this is true. But if you are an allergy or asthma sufferer, this is really bad news.

The very ‘complaint’ that people have about carpeting is actually its best characteristic: The fact that it has soft and fuzzy fibers make it act like a filter or a sink. It traps and holds all of the junk and contaminants we haul in to our homes on our clothing and shoes.

Hard floors cannot do that. The dust (a lot of which is dust mite do-do) has nowhere to land so it’s constantly airborne and being breathed in.

In fact, one way to prove that to you is to watch the air in a home when the sun is shining through a window. With clean, carpeted surfaces, you see some dust in the air, but not much. In a home with hard floors, you see much more dust because there is less surface in the home that holds onto dust.

Even if your vacuum doesn't have a good filter bag, these dust-mite allergens disappear from the air about 20 minutes after vacuuming. This is because they are heavy enough that they’ve settled back down into the carpet. And if the vacuum uses micro-filtration bags or if it has a HEPA filter, the allergens are efficiently removed before even becoming airborne during vacuuming.

David outlines the following two options:

#1: Have carpet in the home hold onto contaminants, keeping them away from your breathing space, and remove these contaminants with regular vacuuming and cleaning...

#2: Have hard floors in the home, which do not hold contaminants but instead allows them to "hang out" in the air, likely triggering allergen reactions from the occupants...

Here’s the bottom line of living with carpeting: Your carpet is a terrific filter. But you gotta clean it! If you don’t, the pollens, dander, dust, etc. will build up until your carpet is completely overrun with this stuff, aggravating allergies, asthma and many other breathing conditions.


Thank you, David. I couldn’t say it better myself.

~Bethany

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day, Carpet Recycling, and California

Here’s a fitting note to indicate the carpet industry’s commitment to sustainability this Earth Day – next week’s annual conference of the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is sold out for the first time in its eight year history. The carpet recycling group has experienced huge growth in its membership this year, and as state legislatures around the country look at implementing extended producer responsibility bills that require manufacturers to be responsible for their products’ reuse and/or disposal at the end of their useful lives, it’s a safe bet to say CARE’s growth is set to be a long-term trend.

The Carpet and Rug Institute has been following proposed extended producer responsibility (epr) legislation efforts for quite some time. (See earlier our blog post Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), Carpet & CARE.)

California’s proposed EPR legislation, the nation’s first devoted solely to carpet reclamation, would have tremendous impact on the carpet bill. CRI Vice-President Frank Hurd says, “If passed in its current form, California’s proposed AB2398, or Carpet Product Stewardship Bill would be extremely onerous. It would cost the carpet industry millions and millions of dollars.” AB 2398 was introduced by the California Assembly’s new Speaker, John Perez.

AB 2398 Proposed actions:

• Establishes a 50% collection rate by 2014, increasing to 70% by 2017

• Industry must submit a stewardship plan to the CA Dep’t. Of Resources and Recycling, which must approve the plan and set the fees for all activities.

• Manufacturers will be responsible for all costs associated with the collection, diversion, and or recycling of post-consumer carpet, including, but not limited to, paying cities and municipalities’ costs for carpet collection.

In late April, Hurd testified in Sacramento before the California State Assembly’s Environmental Committee on the subject of AB 2398. Hurd was joined by representatives from the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and CRI member Shaw Industries. Prior to and immediately following the committee hearing, Hurd met with Speaker Perez and his staff, as well as with staff from the office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

AB 2398 was voted out of the Environmental Committee and sent to the Appropriations Committee for review. Even in light of this, Hurd says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the legislative process concerning AB 2398. “It is CRI’s intent to work diligently to have the bill pulled from the legislative calendar, and thus to allow the carpet industry to proceed with its plan for sustainable funding of carpet recycling,” Hurd said. (See related post Sustainable Carpet Funding Sources.)

Click here to read CRI President Werner Braun’s letter concerning AB 2398.

Here’s how one CRI Member is celebrating Earth Day: At its Dalton, Georgia headquarters, Shaw employees are invited outside for a “Chillin’ on the Hill” picnic that also promotes employee recycling efforts.

CRI appreciates all of its members and their efforts on behalf of the environment. The carpet industry has a great story to tell, on Earth Day and every day!

~Bethany

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sustainable Carpet Recycling Funding Sources

CRI's Werner Braun on FloorDaily

Carpet Industry Investigates Sustainable Funding Sources for Recycling

CRI President Werner Braun Explains Options

To facilitate and ultimately increase the recycling of post-consumer carpet, the carpet industry is examining two potential sources of sustainable funding for the process.

In a recent interview with FloorDaily.net, Carpet and Rug Institute President Werner Braun discussed the CRI Board of Directors’ decision to pursue federal legislation that would establish a consumer fee for recycling (similar to the fees charged with new tire purchases), as well as to explore the possibility of increasing tipping fees at landfills for carpet disposal.

In the same interview, Braun discussed recent broadloom and backing sales information indicating that business is improving in the carpet industry.

Please click on this link to listen to the 8 minute FloorDaily interview with Werner Braun.

The carpet industry has a great sustainability story - does anyone know of examples when carpet got the recognition it deserves for being green?

~ Bethany

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Carpet Cleaning & Maintenance Plan: Daily Vacuuming, Periodic Deep Cleaning

carpet cleaning and maintenance: daily vacuuming

How To Make a Cleaning and Maintenance Plan? Part Three: Daily Maintenance and Restorative Cleaning


This is my third and final installment in this series of blog posts about how to make the best decisions for cleaning and maintaining commercial carpets. The first dealt with choosing the best cleaning solutions and equipment from the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval program. The second talked about the importance of making a color-coded map that designated the facility’s traffic flow patterns from high-use to low. It also discussed the value of preventive maintenance.

The final two steps form the backbone of carpet care: daily vacuuming and periodic deep cleaning.

Step Three: Daily Maintenance

The “V for Victory” in any maintenance plan stands for “vacuum.” Vacuuming removes 80-85% of all the loose soil on a carpet’s surface and is the most important step in any cleaning and maintenance plan. To get the most out of this vital cleaning element, it is important to use the most efficient vacuums available. Vacuums that have passed CRI’s Seal of Approval testing earn Gold, Silver, or Bronze-level ratings depending on their rates of soil removal and containment. Luckily, price is not always a predictor of performance - Seal of Approval testing reveals that moderately priced models often perform as well as their more expensive counterparts.

Using the color-coded facility usage map you developed earlier as a guide, plan to vacuum heavy traffic areas such as main aisles and entrances at least once a day; medium use areas like corridors and conference areas every other day, and light-use areas such as offices 2 times per week.

Another vital element of daily maintenance is spot removal. Most carpet spots, which are caused by a foreign substance being introduced onto the carpet surface, can be removed with proper care. Stains, however, happen when the carpet comes in contact with some agent that actually alters the color of the carpet’s fibers. Stains are much harder to remove than spots, and often cannot be completely eradicated.

The secret to good spot cleaning, then, is vigilance and quick action. CRI’s Seal of Approval program offers multiple commercial and residential spot removers that have been tested to work without encouraging resoiling or changing a carpet’s color or texture. Spots can be removed by hand, but to save time, larger facilities often purchase portable extractors for removing multiple spots quickly. “Portable spotting extractors are great tools that pay for themselves in no time,” said Bill Doan, carpet cleaning consultant from Atlanta, Georgia.

Step Four: Restorative Cleaning

It is absolutely necessary to perform periodic deep-cleaning extractions on carpet to remove the oily, abrasive, and embedded dirt that will, over time, damage fibers and lead to a dull appearance. If soil is not periodically removed through extraction, it will build up and lead to a situation known in the carpet industry as “uglying out”. The good news is, regular extraction cleaning will maintain carpet to such a high degree you will likely want to change the style before you replace the carpet for any other reason.

carpet cleaning and maintenance: periodic deep cleaningThe most common form of deep-cleaning, hot water extraction mixes hot water with cleaning pre-spray to help suspend dirt particles in solution, where they can be extracted. CRI Seal of Approval, which lists extractors and deep-cleaning systems according to the amount of soil they remove, recently added a new Platinum performance level to accommodate those cleaning systems that remove 90% or more of soil from carpet.

Ensuring that carpet dries quickly after extracting is important so that business continues safely and without interruption, and any possibility of mold or mildew growth is eliminated. The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests running HVAC systems set at 68 -70 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 24 hours after extraction. Air Movers – special fans designed for drying carpet also boost drying times.

Once again, it’s a good idea to use your color-coded chart to help determine the restorative cleaning schedule. A good rule of thumb - heavy traffic areas need monthly extraction, while moderate traffic areas should be cleaned at least once a quarter. Clean conference rooms and corridors every six months and private offices and other light traffic areas once or twice per year.

I hope these articles have been helpful – I’d like to hear your feedback. Is there anything else I need to add?

~Bethany

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Commercial Carpet Cleaning & Maintenance Plan

Carpet Care Plan

How To Make a Cleaning and Maintenance Plan for Commercial Carpet Care


How should you get started with a cleaning and maintenance program for carpet cleaning in a commercial setting? My last post talked about the importance of using cleaning solutions and equipment certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval program, but what else is important?

Here is information I pulled together from CRI’s Carpet Maintenance Guidelines for Commercial Applications, found on the CRI website.

Step One: Make a Map

A good carpet maintenance plan requires a system-wide approach, meaning it should consider space and usage issues like building layout, traffic flow, and daily and special activities as well as cleaning and maintenance techniques. Areas like entryways, main corridors, elevators and break rooms experience the heaviest foot traffic, while private offices and cubicles will normally be light traffic areas. Of course, traffic patterns will be extremely heavy in the very public spaces found in most retail locations.

Once you identify the different traffic areas, it’s a good idea to map them out in a color-coded chart to help organize the cleaning schedule. As a general rule, you can expect to focus 80% of your efforts maintaining the roughly 20% of your carpeted area that sees the heaviest use.

Step Two: Preventive Maintenance

Prevention is the foundation of every comprehensive carpet maintenance plan. Soil is the natural-born enemy of carpet, so it stands to reason that the best way to control dirt inside a facility is to keep it from entering in the first place. Dirt is everywhere – sand, grease, and even red clay get tracked into a building, while soot, smoke, and car exhaust deposit their own grime over surfaces everywhere. To stop dirt at the door, preventive maintenance begins outside, with sidewalks that are swept clean and parking lots that are kept relatively free from grease and oil buildup.

A system of walk off mats, either removable or built into a building’s entrance, are very effective at removing dry soil, water, and other debris before they hit the interior space. Adequate length is important – mat systems designed to be six to 15 feet long will normally trap a full 80 percent or more of all soil and moisture – think of the cost savings of this simple preventative step. A mat system should include rugged outside mats to scrape off mud and dirt first, then inside mats with their relatively smoother texture to absorb water and other liquids and trap small particles of dirt. Vacuum mats often to keep them from getting too saturated with dirt to work effectively.

The judicious use of mats throughout the interior of a building, at elevators, water coolers, and stair thresholds, for example, will help control dirt, as well as increase safety. Limiting food consumption to specified areas is a good idea, and checking the weather stripping at exits and exterior doors will stop grime and lower energy bills.

Finally, nothing cuts down on dust accumulating on surfaces and floors better than checking the filters in a facility’s heating and air conditioning system and changing the filters according to schedule.

Next: Daily maintenance and restorative cleaning

~ Bethany

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Year Old: The CRI Blog Completes Its First Year

The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog

The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog [aka the CRI Blog] Celebrates One Year Anniversary

CRI's Social Media Experiment Has Increased Web Presence for Carpet-Related Issues, Information

In its first year, the CRI blog published 102 stories, or posts. Visitors to the blog site viewed 478 pages 14,714 times. Of the people who read the blog, most found their way to it through a key word or phrase entered into a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

I spoke with Christine Whittemore, a social media consultant who designed and monitors the CRI Blog, for her insights.

CRI: What, from a social media marketers perspective, has the blog done for the Carpet and Rug Institute

CW: The CRI Blog has increased and broadened the CRI’s digital visibility beyond the immediate audience already aware of the Carpet and Rug Institute. As a result of the content you’ve written and published, CRI blog posts come up in searches. Search engines have generated over 57% of visitors to the blog during this first year. If you remember, when we started out, that number was closer to 9%. Furthermore, 83% of visits to the CRI Blog are absolute unique visitors; in other words a totally new audience that the CRI wasn’t reaching through traditional channels.

CRI: Research on online usage shows that the #1 activity online is search. More than email, social media, or web-based software program activity. How does the CRI blog help get the CRI’s information to this, the largest sector of people online?

CW: Search is a big deal. And search loves content; particularly content relevant to a search and content filled with valuable information, and particularly dynamic content – which is what a blog generates when it is updated regularly and consistently.

Consistently publishing informative content about what the CRI does - the research it produces, how that information is meaningful to readers - has increased the opportunities for the CRI to be found in searches. As I mentioned in the first response, 57% of visitors have come to the CRI Blog via search over the past year, and 65% in the past month. All of those new blog visitors further enhance the traffic that the CRI website attracts.

CRI: What would you say is the most significant accomplishment for the blog? Any numbers surprise you?

CW: Through the CRI Blog, CRI has built a significant body of content that supports the science-based research and environmental stewardship mission of the CRI, extending its reach via search to connect with those actively seeking information relating to carpet and asthma/allergy, carpet cleaning and maintenance, carpet recycling and busted carpet myths.

The CRI Blog is a natural platform for the CRI to share all of its great research and information, much of which is buried within the CRI website, and place it in the hands of users! It also brings to life how much the people of CRI care about what they do within the industry and the marketplace – something that can be hard to communicate via a website.

CRI: What might we see for year 2? Will blogs continue to play as big a role in social media? Looks to me like messages are getting shorter – Twitter, Facebook, etc.

CW: Year 2 offers more opportunities to publish content relevant to CRI’s mission so the CRI blog and website continue to connect with new and repeat visitors.

Blogs will remain important for the foreseeable future because they put into the CRI’s hands the ability to publish its own content - a critical ability for a world where search is as important as it is.

As concise as the LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter updates are, if you look closely at those platforms, you’ll notice that a majority of updates point readers or followers to compressed or shortened URLs and links which take you to actual blogposts and articles. So the shorter publishing platforms actually work with blogs rather than against them!

Congratulations, CRI, on your first blog anniversary! I wish you an even more successful second year.

Thank you, Christine, for your contributions to CRI.

~Bethany

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Commercial Carpet Cleaning and Maintenance

Commercial Carpet Cleaning & Maintenance

How To: Commercial Carpet Cleaning and Maintenance for Commercial Environments

Just what is required of a comprehensive cleaning and maintenance program in a commercial environment? What works best for a retail store, or an elementary school? How do you make a plan that works?

In helping CRI President Werner Braun prepare several magazine articles recently that dealt with these issues, I became more familiar with the nuts and bolts of how to clean and maintain carpet properly.

The three most important tools to have? Effective cleaning chemicals and equipment (such as those certified under the Seal of Approval program), well-trained technicians to perform the cleaning, and a regular program of maintenance.

For resources, I relied heavily on CRI’s Carpet Maintenance Guidelines for Commercial Applications, a comprehensive document that can be accessed on the CRI website. I also was given access to an online learning program put together by Shaw Industries’ Technical Services Department.

Here is the first in a series of blog posts that summarizes what I learned from these two excellent resources.

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance Keep Things Looking Their Best

A correctly designed and implemented maintenance program performed by qualified personnel who are properly equipped and trained is absolutely essential to ensure the best long-term performance for carpet. It’s important to clarify terms: there are important differences between keeping carpet clean and maintaining it. Cleaning involves the removal of apparent soil, but soiling is a cumulative process which, if allowed to go too far, cannot easily be reversed, and can easily cause permanent damage to the carpet. Maintenance, in contrast to cleaning, is a scheduled and ongoing process of soil removal designed to maintain carpet’s daily appearance at a consistent level of cleanliness.

Several years ago, the Carpet and Rug Institute took a closer look at the issue of proper care and maintenance after it performed a nationwide survey of commercial and residential carpet users. Through the survey, CRI found that customers’ number one concern about carpet was cleaning – responders said carpet was too hard to keep clean; cleaning cost too much, and they didn’t know where to find the information they needed to maintain carpet correctly.

These responses, combined with some testing CRI performed that showed that not all carpet cleaning products cleaned equally well, led the Carpet and Rug Institute to start the Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products and equipment. In the five years since the program launched, CRI has submitted hundreds of different cleaning chemicals, vacuums, extractors and cleaning systems for testing and has published the best performers on its web site, http://www.carpet-rug.org/. Certified Seal of Approval Service Providers are also listed on the site, organized by zipcode to make it easier to find qualified professional carpet cleaning contractors in any given area.

Carpet cleaning and maintenance is simple – when you use the right products and equipment, have a plan, and follow the four key steps of carpet care and maintenance.

Next post: the key steps!

~ Bethany
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