Get to know the fully updated British Standard on carpet installation

The British Standard that gives best-practice recommendations on how to install carpets has now been revised after a two-decade interval. This blog post assesses why and how the standard has changed, and why everyone in the industry should get it.

BS 5325 Installation of textile floor coverings — Code of practice is the newly revised British Standard on carpet installation. As a code of practice, it gives guidance and recommendations that are designed to help and inform anyone who installs textile flooring in new or existing buildings. “Textile floor coverings” means all products composed of textile material with a pile or non-pile use surface. The standard also includes the laying of modular carpet, e.g. tiles and planks. It details suitable methods of design and installation and advises on the selection of materials required for implementation. It doesn’t explicitly give advice on carpet cleaning and maintenance. However, it does include guidance on design stage decisions that will later help with cleaning and maintenance support.

What the standard covers

BS 5325 starts off by listing “normative references” - these are standards referenced in the text. It then goes on to provide a list of the terms and definitions used, ensuring that all users have a uniform understanding of terms. The standard then discusses what it calls “Exchange of information”, a preparatory stage designed to make sure that the correct floor covering is installed inappropriate conditions at the right time.

The standard goes on to supply best practice recommendations on identifying any given project’s name, location, and related personnel as well as contract conditions. A specification should cover salient details such as user type, traffic density, and special requirements (e.g. fire resistance or noise absorption). The standard lists the floor details that matter, including any particulars of underfloor heating or security installations, and the position and treatment of expansion joints. This section goes on to cover testing, health and safety considerations, responsibilities, and maintenance details.

The next section deals with materials: this includes underlays and interlays as well as the floor covering itself and adhesives. The following section focuses on subfloors, which need to meet certain characteristics to allow the successful installation of the floor covering. Issues here include damp proofing, eliminating construction moisture, and the preparation of timber or other bases.

The next section covers installation itself, including workmanship, how materials are stored, the handling of fabricated and other underlays and interlays, as well as floor covering planning and layout, methods of installation, and methods of seaming and joining. Special attention is given to carpeting stairs and how to lay carpet tiles.
A final section deals with completing the job. The standard concludes with annexes on underfloor heating, dampness testing, classification of surface levels and regularity, and guidance on selecting plywood for fabricated underlays.

Principal changes

This standard has a relatively long history. The first version was published in 1976, since when it has been revised in 1983, 1996, and then 2001. However, that means the last revision was 20 years ago, since when some significant advances have been introduced by the industry.

BS 5325:2020 is therefore a major revision, designed to ensure the standard reflects those changes and is aligned with other flooring standards updated since 2001 such as BS 8203 and BS 8201. New content has been added in areas such as power stretching, moisture measurement, and fabricated underlays; we’ve updated recommendations on methods of installation and application products; and made other changes due to health and safety and legislative issues.

In addition, the revision has been drafted, where possible, to align with the format of BS 8203:2017 and also, where appropriate, using the same wording so as not to cause any confusion or differences. It means that users who install both textile and resilient floor coverings can use both standards more easily.

The end result is an up-to-date document that will help you achieve efficient, high-quality installations that minimize problems and maximize the aesthetic appeal, safety, and performance of carpets, as well as help you write better specifications, quotations, and scopes of work for installation projects.