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When an item or product is classified as “contract grade,” it means that it was constructed or produced to meet high durability standards and withstand heavy daily use. A contract grade item is made from hard wearing materials using superior construction techniques. It is also engineered to meet strict regulatory or compliance requirements, like fire ratings or consumer protection regulations. Restaurants, hotels, schools, businesses, and airports are just a few examples of spaces that require contract-grade furnishings and flooring.

All of our commercial flooring products are “contract-grade,” meaning they meet durability standards for commercial spaces. Fire ratings, however, are established separately, i.e. some carpet that is rated for heavy commercial traffic may or may not have the fire rating (Class 1 or 2, Bfl or Cfl) required for the particular setting. It is important to read the usage and technical specifications listed on each product page for a detailed breakdown of certifications. If you don’t see what you need, reach out to us for documentation or more information.

Our Commercial Carpet Classifications Guide is a helpful overview of carpet ratings to help you specify carpet for your next project.

When it comes to carpet, a commercial or contract grade carpet meets certain fire safety standards, is crafted from tough fibers like nylon, polypropylene or woven vinyl, and has built-in systems that resist stains or fading from UV light. The face yarns are generally short, dense fibers that are tufted or woven in a low pile. See our Commercial Wall-to-Wall Carpet page for a more in-depth guide to commercial carpet.

If a carpet is classified as “heavy contract”, the face yarns are super durable, the construction is tight, and together it can withstand heavy use. Public spaces that encounter large amounts of traffic, like airports, corridors, hotel reception areas, cinemas, libraries, large department stores, and restaurants, should use heavy contract grade carpet.

A commercial carpet that is classified as “light contract” is suitable for areas that experience light to moderate foot traffic. Examples include conference and meetings rooms, residential facilities, retail stores, hotel rooms, and individual offices.

Yes, you can use commercial grade carpet in a home, and it might be a great choice especially if you have a busy household with pets, children, or frequent guests. Our SynSisal® weaves are contract grade and found in many residential settings.

Whether a commercial grade carpet is more or less expensive than a residential carpet depends on many factors (like material choice), but either way you should expect a better return on your investment. A commercial carpet won’t be as lush as a carpet rated for residential use only, but it will hold up under regular maintenance, last longer, and show less wear and tear over time.

The pile or face yarns of most commercial carpets are made from synthetic materials. Synthetics have the advantage of greater stain-resistance, color retention, and ease of cleaning. However, there are natural fiber carpets—like wool and some sisals—that are hard wearing and contract rated.

When considering which material is best for your project, it is important to also consider the carpet’s construction. The way a carpet is constructed affects performance over time. Below, we discuss the best fibers and ideal construction for commercial carpet and rugs.

Choice Materials

  • Nylon Nylon, and more specifically Nylon 6 or Nylon 6,6, accounts for the majority of commercial carpet face or pile fibers. Nylon is resilient, easy to clean, abrasion resistant, and can be solution dyed. Solution dyeing, in which the synthetic polymers that make up the yarns are pre-colored before being extruded into yarn, results in an array of vibrant, fade-resistant colors.

  • ECONYL® Made from 100% regenerated nylon yarns, ECONYL® is a durable PA6 nylon yarn manufactured with repurposed fishing nets, carpet, and post-consumer waste. It brings the same toughness that nylon is renowned for and adds an innovative sustainability story. All SynSisal® commercial carpet is woven from ECONYL® yarns.

  • Polypropylene or Olefin Solution-dyed polypropylene yarns are durable, easy to clean, and maintain their colors when exposed to sunlight. Some polypropylene rugs can be used in outdoor settings since polypropylene is moisture resistant. Commercial polypropylene carpet is not as durable as nylon, and the fibers are not as crush- or abrasion-resistant as nylon. If not treated properly, oil-based spills may stain.

  • Polyester Another popular synthetic material for carpets, polyester is colorfast and inherently stain resistant. It has a soft texture and is often used in “wool-like” carpets. Poly silk is a common polyester fiber used in commercial carpet. Because of its soft texture, it is not as durable as nylon, crushes easily, and requires more maintenance. It is less expensive than nylon and may contain recycled content, a potential positive call-out.

  • Woven Vinyl Areas like spas, locker rooms, gyms, or any space that might get wet are great candidates for vinyl flooring. Woven vinyl is tough, easy to clean, durable, and slip resistant. This modern material is offered in sleek designs, colorful palettes, and interesting textures.

  • Wool Wool is a renewable fiber with insulating qualities and limitless designs. Wool is also naturally fire and stain resistant. A wool carpet with a low profile and contract grade ratings works well in private offices or settings with low to medium traffic. Wool blends that combine wool and nylon are a durable and affordable option if pure wool is not within the budget.

  • Sisal or Coir Both sisal and coir are tough, natural fibers that add organic beauty to commercial spaces like boutique shops or offices. Our Contract Coir brings rustic texture, natural beauty, and a heavy duty resume to retail spaces or private offices. Likewise, our stain-resistant sisal collection is rated for heavy contract use.

For a comparison of synthetic fibers like nylon and polypropylene, head over to our blog post Nylon, Polyester, & Polypropylene Rugs: Everything You Need To Know.

Consider Construction

  • Woven Woven carpets are very durable and withstand heavy traffic. They are formed via the simultaneous interweaving of warp and weft yarns, creating a high strength product.  Look for a flat woven carpet—they tend to have a tighter structure and a low-profile, perfect for commercial projects.

  • Tufted Most contract grade carpet is tufted. Like a giant sewing machine with a hundred, if not thousands, of needles, a tufting machine inserts yarn into the primary backing system. Loops are formed that are either tight or loose, and are either kept in the loop form or sheared to create a cut pile.

  • Tiles Although modular carpet or carpet tile is not a weave construction per se, it is a commercial flooring option that works very well in many commercial settings. Commercial carpet tiles are generally tufted with a low profile, offer versatility in style and application, and are easy to install and maintain.

Durable, contract-rated carpet installed wall-to-wall is the go-to application for heavy traffic facilities like a bustling airport concourse or a convention center corridor that endures thousands of steps a day. Commercial carpet is tough, creates a cohesive design, absorbs noise, and provides a safe, level walking surface. 

A contract grade area rug still has a place in many commercial settings—think open offices, shared workspaces, lobbies, educational institutions, or retail shops. Area rugs add warmth, define a space, showcase a design aesthetic, and provide acoustic insulation. Inset area rugs, like custom walk-off mats, capture dirt and dust from shoes and offer a great opportunity to display a corporate logo and school mascot.

If you are not sure which product you need for a commercial project, we have a knowledgeable design team ready to assist. Plus, we offer an exceptional Trade Program. We work with designers, architects and installers daily, providing support for large or small commercial projects. And we have the products you need, including commercial rugs, runners, wallcovering, tiles, and walk-off mats.