Material Waste in Interior Design and Decorating
People are hot and cold regarding leftovers… Pun intended. When it comes to food I think of leftovers as a meal I don’t have to cook. When it comes to design, that’s another story.
What is Waste?
I’ve yet to have a job where there was no leftover product. Trust me, designers hate leftovers as much as clients do! However, most of the time they are a necessity. In design school we learned about a concept called “waste”. Normally, waste is something we try to avoid, but in the home goods and home improvement industry it is a good thing. In my industry, waste as a concept means a designer orders a set amount of materials in excess of the surface area to be covered. The waste concept works under the assumption that we will need more product than the size of the surface area to be covered because items have to be cut or a pattern needs to match. Ordering materials in excess assures that we will get the job done on time and, even more importantly, that end product looks good!
What happens when there is not enough?
There are two issues with not ordering enough product up front. The first problem is time. For example, the tile installation occurs near the end of a bathroom remodeling project. We’ve installed most everything, except the tile flooring. The tile installer comes to the job and begins to lay the tile, but then runs out of tile when he’s 90% done. We then need to order Extra tile. We have to wait for the tile to arrive. Then, we have to wait for the installer to find time in his schedule to come back and finish! Depending on his schedule, it could take several days to weeks to get him back on the job! The designer isn’t happy, the installer isn’t happy, but most of all, the client is not happy!
The second problem is color match. Manufacturers make most products in batches. This includes everything from fabric to tile. These batches are called dye lots. If I order a fabric today that was the last of it’s batch, and I have to order more of the same fabric that is from a different batch or dye lot, then there is a risk that the 2 fabric pieces will not match. This might not be noticeable if the different dye lots are on window treatments or pillows on a sofa. However, if it is two adjacent cushions on a sofa or two pieces of wallpaper that are next to each other, the mistake will be pretty obvious.
How much are we talking about?
Waste amounts vary from product to product and by use. For example, you will need more waste for a large patterned wallpaper than you will for something textured with no discernible pattern . The way you use the material will also change the waste. Typically, you need to calculate a 10% waste for stack bond (straight) or running bond (brick) tile pattern. However, if you turn the tiles on a diagonal, you will need to calculate a 15% waste. So, you may end up with half of a box of tiles at the end of your job.
Believe me, I celebrate when I have minimal interior design waste. I’m always happy to hand a client 6″ strip of fabric when the project is complete, but that doesn’t always happen. More often than not, there is an excess of materials. However, when the client loves the way their home looks, it worth it!
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