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Advice Every Strata Should Know About Carpet Cleaning

Commercial carpet Patcraft Paseo

At least once a year we visit a strata getting a quote on new carpet and find out that the dirty, severely stained, unkempt carpet underfoot is only a few years old! Even high-quality commercial carpets can end up looking old well before their time simply because they were not properly cleaned. While there are many reasons building are not maintained properly, with carpets often the council doesn’t think carpet cleaning and maintenance is necessary or they don’t understand what maintenance is expected.

Picking a good quality, stain-resistant carpet is not a substitute for regular maintenance. All carpets require maintenance suitable for their traffic areas. Since strata common hallways experience high traffic and are often victim to mystery stains, they require more cleaning than the carpet in your home.

What happens when regular carpet maintenance is not performed

  1. Lifespan of the carpet is shortened and results in the a higher replacement costs in the long run.
  2. Manufacturer refuses to warranty coverage on your investment.
  3. Stains and soiling create negative impression of the building for both residents and visitors.
  4. Old worn carpet suggests that the strata doesn’t take care of the building and residents shouldn’t either.

It’s clear that regular carpet maintenance is important, but let’s face it – few people are excited to spend the time researching and planning it. That’s why we’ve broken down your commercial carpet maintenance into four easy-to-follow steps. No more excuses for prematurely uglied-out carpet!

4 easy steps to a commercial carpet maintenance plan

Carpet maintenance works best with a deliberate scheduled program instead of reacting to stains and soiling. The manufacturer of your carpet can provide an in-depth guide to planning your scheduled maintenance plan. We always recommended reading the manufacturer’s guide to follow any manufacturer specific guidelines. See the links at the bottom of the post for maintenance guides from popular carpet manufacturers. If MIRA Floors has recently completed flooring for your strata, either the property manager or strata will receive warranty and maintenance info in the mail, so keep an eye out for it.

This advice is for carpets with synthetic, man-made fibres (e.g. nylon or olefin). If the carpet is wool/wool-blend carpet or printed, please contact the carpet manufacturer directly for specific cleaning instructions.

1. Prevent dirt/soil from getting on the carpet

Various studies have shown that the cost of removing a pound of soil from a building ranges up to $500 or more. It’s much cheaper to keep the soil outside than remove it!

To keep the soil out, manufacturers recommend using a combination of walk off mats. A course textured walk off mat to trap grit and dirt should come first, followed by a mat designed to absorb water. Using both mats is essential at preventing soiling; one type of mat alone is not good enough. Mats should be placed at all entrances where residents could track in dirt and soil.

To be effective at keeping dirt and water out, mats need to be cleaned even more often than the carpets. It is worth investing in high-quality commercial grade mats that do a great job of trapping soil and have a longer lifespan.

2. Remove dry soil by vacuuming

Most dirt and grim that accumulates in a strata building is dry soil. The best way to remove dry soil is by vacuuming. Walking pushes soil particles deep into the carpet pile, where they are harder to remove. Frequent vacuuming removes the soil particles before they are trapped in the carpet fibres. In entrances, elevators and hallways daily vacuuming is recommended to maintain the appearance and longevity of the carpet. Areas with less traffic can be vacuumed 2-3 times a week.

Investing in a good vacuum for the strata is key to keep the carpet looking great. Vacuuming only helps when he vacuum can effectively remove soil from the pile. For vacuum cleaners, we only recommend ones certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Seal of Approval program. Their seven part program tests how well vacuums clean carpet, only recommending the best products for maintaining your carpets. For carpet tiles and broadloom carpet glued to the subfloor, most manufacturers do not recommend using a vacuum with a beater bar as it may damage the carpet pile.

3. Remove spots and stains by spot cleaning

Spots and stains are the one unplanned part of the maintenance program. Be prepared by having a spot cleaning solutions available to use immediately. Check for spots daily and if there is one, act quickly. Even if it has stain-resistant treatments, no carpet is completely stain-proof.

If you can identify the type of stain, we recommend checking out the Carpet and Rug Institute Spot Solver website. Search for the type of stain and they will provide feedback on the cleaning products and methods to use. The carpet manufacturer’s Technical Service department is another great resource to call for cleaning advice. Please use the methods recommended by professionals – home remedies or mixtures can cause more damage to the carpet than the stain did.

General spot cleaning tips

  • Scoop up solids gently with a spoon or dull knife.
  • Absorb by blotting (never scrubbing or rubbing) with white paper towel or cloth.
  • Clean by working from the edges to the centre to prevent the spill from spreading further.
  • Use patience. Complete removal of a stain may require repeat spot cleaning.

4. Clean with hot-water extraction

Vacuuming alone is not enough to keep your carpet clean. The vacuum cannot pick up the oily soil that is also tracked into the building. Carpet manufacturer’s recommend a hot water extraction 2-4 per year for entrances, elevators and hallways, depending on how much traffic your building gets. Hot water extraction (also called steam cleaning) should use high-performance commercial equipment for the best possible clean. Self-contained walk-behind hot water extraction systems are a good interim solution for cleaning but are not a substitute for professional cleaning equipment.

Carpet manufacturer’s actively advise against bonnet system cleaners. They only clean the surface and do not extract the soil deep in the carpet. In some cases, the bonnet system leaves detergent behind and may damage the edges of carpet tiles. Check that your carpet cleaners are doing a hot-water extraction and not using a bonnet system.

Maintenance guides from commercial carpet manufacturers

Shaw Commercial carpet maintenance videos

Patcraft Commercial carpet maintenance guide

Shaw Contract commercial carpet maintenance guide


Acoustic Underlay Requirements for Condos

Acoustic Underlay Requirements for Strata and Condos

Noise is often a contentious issue in multi-unit residences, as any condo dweller can attest to. When owners want to install hardwood or laminate flooring, strata bylaws often require the use of an underlay with acoustic properties to reduce to the sound transmission to the unit below. Here are a few commonly asked questions about the acoustic underlay required.

Which underlay should I buy to use in my building?
Each strata has different rules about the flooring and underlay allowed in their building. Some may require council approval of the materials before installation. Check with your strata before purchasing your flooring. If your strata requires approval before installation, your flooring provider can provide you with product specifications and documented test results to give to your strata council.

My strata requires an underlay with a certain STC and IIC rating. What does this mean?
These are sound-control ratings often used in building codes and strata guidelines. The higher the rating, the better the underlay is at sound reduction. Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings measure transmission of airborne sounds such as neighbours talking or playing music. Impact Isolation Class (IIC) measures impact sounds transferred from the floor to the unit below. Impact sounds are foot steps, objects falling on the floor etc. Manufacturers have their products tested in a lab according to ASTM International standards to determine the STC and IIC ratings.

Does an acoustic underlay reduce all noises for my neighbours below?
No. An acoustic underlay with good IIC and STC ratings will reduce noise transfer but will not eliminate all noise. The effectiveness of the underlay depends on your lifestyle and the construction of the building. If your lifestyle is noisier, your neighbours will be more likely to hear you. Active kids, walking in heavy shoes or high heels and dropping things may create noise that cannot be entirely quieted by any acoustic underlay.

The settings of the underlay lab tests may be different from the construction of the subfloor and ceiling of your building. Most underlay is tested on concrete slabs. IIC and STC ratings increase when the concrete slab thickness increases or when a drop or suspended ceiling is present in the unit below. Ask your flooring provider for testing results that specify the subfloor and ceiling assembly used during lab testing.

The ratings will be decreased for buildings with wood frames and plywood substrates since these materials are bad at preventing sound transference. If you do not have a concrete subfloor or acoustic concrete topping between floors, it’s highly recommended to look into additional sound barrier options. Your downstairs neighbours will thank you.

Is there anything else I can do reduce noise?

Adding a few area rugs to your decor will help reduce noise in areas where the rugs have been placed.

Can I do a nail down installation with acoustic underlay underneath?

No. The sound travels through the nails and negates the effectiveness of the underlay.

Is there a specific underlay you recommend?

We recommend using Shaw Silent Step Ultra. The 72 dB IIC and STC ratings satisfy most strata council requirements about flooring and acoustic underlay. Full testing data from a reputable third party lab is available upon request.

For more information we recommend reading:
Hardwood Floors – The Magazine of the National Wood Flooring Association. “The Lowdown on Wood Flooring Underlayments
Master Floor Covering Standards Institute. “Noise Problems and Acoustical Barriers”

Guide to picking carpet for strata complexes

Strata commercial carpet

Common areas of a strata complex are part of the first impression for residents and visitors. When it comes time to replace flooring in the common area, many residents will be invested in the decision because they are passionate about creating a great first impression for their building. Getting all these passionate residents to agree on a new carpet for the common area can often be challenging.

Why do strata complexes experience challenges picking new flooring?

  1. Design is subjective. While Mrs. Smith in Unit 306 may love leopard print patterned carpet, others in the building may not. Each person added to the decision making process brings a new set of interior design ideas to accommodate.
  2. There are an overwhelming number of commercial carpet choices. There are thousands of styles and patterns, each with many different colour choices. It is challenging for one person to pick from all these samples, let alone a whole group of people.

Don’t endure multiple strata meetings and get into arguments over shades of blue and carpet fibres. Here are a few simple tips we recommend to make the process of picking commercial carpet easier:

  1. Only have a small group responsible for picking the carpet. Designate one or two people as the carpet selection committee. They will work with the salesperson to find a carpet that fits your building’s needs and works with the colour scheme.
  2. Narrow down the options before you show them to the whole strata. Pick a few favourite carpet samples and leave the rest in the showroom. Limiting the options makes it easy for the strata to vote. After a quick “majority rules” vote, the carpet will be picked.
  3. Ensure all decision makers have the same knowledge about carpet. Not all carpets are created equally. Colour and patterns are only two of many important factors to consider. Invite your salesperson to spend 5-10 minutes at your meeting educating all decision makers on factors to consider when picking commercial carpet. Once everyone has the same knowledge about carpet, they will be more confident when making their decision.
  4. Get the full picture with the big samples. Commercial carpet sample books often have tiny swatches – think 1 inch by 1 inch. Your salesperson can order larger samples to help you better visualize what the carpet will look like in your common area. Manufacturers such as Patcraft have tools on their website to show what your carpet will look like in a larger space and using different carpet tile installation methods.
  5. Consider using a designer. If interior design isn’t your forté or the strata is planning a renovation with many components (carpet, tiles, paint etc), a designer will help with the decision making process. The designer will provide great advice on interior design trends and put together visual representations of the components of the design. A visual representation is helpful for working around any language barriers you may have.

While there’s no guarantee of pleasing everyone when making a decision with a large group of people, following these steps will help you come to a fair decision, quickly and easily.

WCFA ICC Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce Insurance Brokers Association CHOA Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association Better Business Bureau BCAOMA Aviva