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Pros and cons of carpet tile in long-term care

May 10, 2011
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At almost every design meeting with a new client the question gets asked about how I feel about carpet tile vs. broadloom carpet with a moisture barrier backing.

The question used to be about regular backing vs. moisture barrier. Now it’s a given that moisture barrier is the backing of choice in the common areas of long-term care homes. Resident rooms are still in question as to whether to invest in the higher priced moisture barrier carpet or use throwaway residential carpet and seal the concrete.

This is an interesting discussion topic in that with all design decisions, it’s important to find out the “question behind the question.”

When digging for the answer, we first need to understand the background of the client, who or what has influenced them and/or educated them to ask the question about carpet tile, and what the core benefits are as they see them.

Typically, this can be from a carpet representative that has made a pitch, information picked up at a trade show that was recently attended, or the client himself/herself came from the corporate world or in an education setting where carpet tile is often used.

So, what does the client usually know about carpet tile? That it’s very durable and easy to replace. But how much do they know about the pros and cons?


only replace what is damaged

moisture barrier

easily create fun patterns by 1/4 turning and multiple types of tile.

less waste


damaged tile makes older tiles look really used

seams every 12", 18" or 24"

not residential in look or feel

Then there are the pros and cons of broadloom carpet with a moisture barrier backing.


residential look and feel

seams ever 12' that can be chemically welded

moisture Barrier


more waste

must remove furniture to reinstall

Residentially we do not see carpet tile being used in the home. You may see it once in a while in a very hip apartment or in kid’s room.

As long-term care designers, we see great applications for carpet tile in adding unique looks by mixing tiles and patterns in purpose-built senior living spaces such as coffee shops, gyms, spas, game rooms, etc.


Lisa Cini

President and CEO

Cini is president and CEO of Mosaic...



Hi Craig,

Would you care to comment on when you find it appropriate to use carpet tile as opposed to broadloom?

Lisa-I agree that at the end of the day, broadloom carpet gets the nod from me over carpet tile. While theoretically, carpet tile is advantageous since it is simple to replace a damaged or stained tile, in reality, the replacement does not happen. As you correctly point out, the damaged or stained tile then remains in place. Plus, I have found that the edges of these tiles can come up and represent a trip hazard for residents and staff.

Broadloom carpet presents a more home like feel and with a solid and consistent carpet care procedure in place, it will serve the needs of any facility for many years.

Thanks for the post Lisa-good observations and points.