Monday, October 26, 2009

Migliore: Biggest Problem in Flooring is Not Understanding Product

Lew Migliore
It never ceases to amaze me that there are people selling floor covering that do not understand the product. This goes for retailers, contract dealers, architects, designers and specifiers.

Having the opportunity to see literally thousands of flooring failures over the last 38 years and still seeing the same thing occur can be very frustrating. A large percentage of the failures have are due to somebody not knowing, and sometimes not caring, whether the flooring material will actually do what is expected of it. Instead it’s more important that it look good or go with the d├ęcor.

Too often a complaint arises within a very short period after installation that creates animosity and pain for all involved. When all is said and done, inevitably the cause of the complaint is that someone didn’t understanding the product, its characteristics and performance aspects. When this happens, it can be said, and often is, that “the product is performing up to the standards and characteristics to which it was designed, engineered and constructed.”

The wrong product in the wrong place is a formula for disaster and, unquestionably, failure. You can’t think something will work and then be surprised when it doesn’t if you really don’t know whether it will or won’t in the first place.

Here are just a few tips to keep you out of trouble.

  • Light colors soil more than dark colors and using a light color in a high traffic area will cause the material to ugly out very quickly. For example, a recent installation on five floors in a corporate environment of a very light colored beige carpet that has coffee, beverage and food spills all over. This carpet will be a maintenance nightmare. It’s brand new, very expensive and was supposed to make a statement.

  • Cut pile carpets will mat and crush and show traffic patterns. If you don’t want the traffic pattern to show you have to sell or specify carpet that is low, dense and loop pile. Cut and Loop Carpet

  • Cut and loop or tip sheared carpet with a high percentage of tip shear will cause the pattern in the carpet to wash out over time. This is a common problem in hospitality carpets. For example, a tip sheared carpet (cut and loop) in the corridors of a new hotel generated a complaint for appearance retention – it didn’t look the way it did when first installed. Tip sheared yarn blossoms to reflect light differently than the adjoining loop creating a contrast pattern. But the tip shear has less resiliency and over time will mat and crush causing the contrast pattern to wash out. This is a common problem I am called to assess in the hospitality industry.

  • Using the wrong fiber will also cause problems. For example, polypropylene has no inherent resiliency; it will mat and crush and it will never come back up. If this type of carpet is sold into a high traffic environment, residential or commercial, you can expect complaints. It has many positive characteristics but resiliency is not one of them.

Remember this - there’s a product that will work for every application; you just have to know what that product is and as flooring industry professionals that is expected of you. If you don’t know or need help call me; we know what will and won’t work, why and what you should use to stay out of trouble. This is not the type of economy where you can afford to make mistakes.

I invite your comments and discuss here or email me at


Lew Migliore is a consultant with the Floor Covering Institute, President of technical consulting firm LGM and Associates, author of “The Claims File” appearing regularly in Floor covering News and the Commercial Flooring Report, a national publication focused on the state of the commercial flooring industry. Some people call Lew the "godfather of claims”.

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  1. As usual, you are right on the money. I would add that while uninformed sales reps, designers and architects are often to blame, stubborn customers who won't accept good advice are also a big part of the problem.

    Perhaps that's the silver lining, after a failure perhaps they'll be more apt to seek out true professionals and heed their suggestions.

  2. Lew,

    Good job as always. General rule is the “right horse for the right course”.

    What throws end users off, I think, is the many and various “guarantees” that come with most carpet products. I think that both commercial and residential end users are mesmerized by the stated guarantees and tend to have them trump any personal evaluation of whether the product is the right one for the end use.

    Keep up the good work.