Alan Whittle, UK Sales Director, Wilton Carpets Commercial examines the role of carpet in the bar and restaurant sector.
Bars and eateries really do put carpet through its paces and as worn and dirty carpets make any interior look drab, no matter how gleaming the fixtures or luxurious the furniture, getting it right at the beginning will save you heartache further down the line. The biggest problem area for carpet is dirt and stains particularly surrounding entrances, around and underneath tables and in narrow corridors. Of course the best way to deal with any dirt and stain is immediate removal but this is just simply not possible in a normal working day, so what can be done to ease the burden?
Firstly we need to separate the effects of dirt and stains into visual and actual effects. The visual effect is how much the dirt and stains are clearly visible to the human eye, and the actual effect is how readily dirt and stains are lifted from the carpet and how the carpet will respond to any lasting residue. Colour and pattern are the two biggest influencers in the carpet’s ability to minimise the appearance of dirt and stains. Darker base colours will do a far better job at disguising dirt and stains than any others – think what drops, drips or rubs into the carpet. Foodstuffs are rarely translucent, mud is nearly always brown and the nastiest stains are always the darkest (red wine, coffee…) so the less contrast between dirt and stains and carpet the better.
Pattern is particularly useful for disguising stains, even permanent ones, and especially so if it relies on a high contrast colour palette rather than tone-on-tone. The reason for this is simple; pattern breaks the line of sight created with block colour and so the stain’s appearance is lessened even though it is the same stain that would show more on a plain carpet of the same base colour. The more complex the pattern the more effective the result – and contrasting stripes also work well.
The ideal dirt and stain hiding carpet would have a black base colour with an intricate pattern that uses many different colours, but not too many light shades. However, in reality, the best design is often a balance between the practical aspects of a carpet’s design and a design that works with the interior and any branding requirements.
For examples of designs that look great and perform well against dirt and stains, the Wilton Carpets’ Virtue Collection offer carpets designed to look great and perform well against dirt and stains, taking traditional designs and modernising them for the 21st Century. Dramatic large-scale repeats can be used in either classic or contemporary environments with the contemporary Optimum palette providing an ideal collection of rich colours and contrasts that will not only look great, but that also offer the dark base colours, and lighter (though not too light) highlight colours. Designs include damask, paisleys, tartans, organics and geometrics.
As far as the actual effects of dirt and stains go, correct selection of construction and fibre are important, but so too is employing a correct maintenance schedule. Time spent on maintenance will be rewarded with a carpet that lasts longer and will keep looking newer for longer. Any carpet fibre, no matter how tough, will be worn by the coarseness of dirt particles, so regular vacuuming with a good quality vacuum cleaner must be carried out at least once a day. Lifting as much walked in dirt and debris as possible will also help to stop the carpet looking ‘dirtied’. Treat any stains with a suitable spot cleaner, but remember that the method you need will differ depending on the stain. The less time you leave a stain the better, so regular checks during vacuuming should help to make sure spills don’t become permanent.
Also every few months give the carpet a proper professional deep clean. A skilled professional will know just what products to use to really restore the vibrancy and ‘new’ appearance of your carpet and will often remove those stains you thought impossible to shift. Deep cleaning is an essential part of carpet maintenance, not a once in a lifetime luxury.
In terms of fibre and construction, wool axminsters are the standard choice for bar and eatery locations and for very good reason. Supremely hardwearing, the axminster construction can be ‘fine-tuned’ to your needs – for instance the Virtue Collection is available in four different qualities from medium duty through to very heavy – and it is also the best for pattern reproduction. With the luxuriousness and inherent resilience of wool, the combination is a difficult one to beat. There is a long-established use of a wool-rich combination, generally employing 20% nylon, as this offers an ideal combination of performance, luxury and value.
Carpet lends something to the ambience of your interior that is simply not achievable with other floors, but careful selection is needed. Get this right and you will be blessed with a floor that boosts the warmth and welcome of your establishment, subdues background noise, hides dirt and stains and that will last for a long time. What more could you want from your floor?