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Carpet Construction

The look and performance of a particular carpet is determined by its construction, which may be loop, cut or combinations of the two. In corridors, lobbies, offices, classrooms, hotel rooms, patient care facilities and other public areas, loop piles of low, dense construction tend to retain their appearance and resiliency providing a better surface for the rolling traffic of wheel chairs or food carts. Cut pile or cut and loop pile carpet are very good choices for administration areas, libraries, individual offices and boardrooms.


Various types of high performance backing systems have additional advantages, including higher tuft binds, added stability, resistance to moisture and edge raveling. Consideration should be given to the functional needs of a particular area.


Understanding carpet construction helps to determine the carpeting that will provide the best performance in a particular location. Commercial carpet is primarily manufactured by tufting or weaving. Both processes produce quality floor coverings, but tufted carpet accounts for 95 percent of all carpet construction.



Tufted Carpet

Tufted: Tufting is the process of creating textiles, especially carpet, on specialized multi-needle sewing machines. Several hundred needles stitch hundreds of rows of pile yarn tufts through a backing fabric called the primary backing. The needles push yarn through a primary backing fabric, where a loop holds the yarn in place to form a tuft as the needle is removed. The yarn is caught by loopers and held in place for loop-pile carpet or cut by blades for cut-pile carpet. Next, secondary backings of various types are applied to render a variety of performance properties.

Here are some key steps in the tufting process:

  • Yarn comes from cones on creel racks (or from big spools called beams) into the machine.
  • The primary backing feeds into the machine.
  • Yarn and primary backing come together in the machine (full shot of machine)
  • Yarn is fed through needles on a needlebar of a tufting machine. Needles repeatedly penetrate or tuft into the primary backing.
  • The tufted carpet is mended and inspected.
  • Carpet is rolled onto large rolls for the next step (whether it’s to be dyed or to be backed.)


Woven Carpet

Woven:  Woven carpet is created on looms by simultaneously interlacing face yarns and backing yarns into a complete product, thereby eliminating the need for a secondary backing. A small amount of latex-back coating is usually applied for bulk. Principal variations of woven carpet include velvet, Wilton and Axminster.


Types of Fiber

NYLON  is the most popular carpet fiber used today. It is the most durable of all the synthetic carpet fibers. Although it is more expensive than polyester and olefin, its durability and ease of maintenance make it the choice for many people especially those with pets and children.  Most carpet today is made of nylon. Nylon is the leader in appearance retention, fade and heat resistance, soil and stain resistance, as well as in color and styling.


OLEFIN also known as polypropylene, is most often used in berbers and level loops, as well as in area rugs. It is generally used where resistance to sunlight fading and chemicals is more important than durability to traffic.  Olefin fiber is highly stain, fade, static, mold, and mildew resistant, so it can be used for indoor or outdoor applications. It’s resistance to matting and crushing is not as good as nylon fiber, however it is less expensive.


POLYESTER is generally not as durable or resilient as nylon, but is less expensive and does provide good stain and fade resistance.  However, recently chemical advances have improved the performance of some polyesters, most notably the Good Housekeeping™ featuring Resista™  and  Resista™ SoftStyle  which both offer our 10-YEAR NO EXCLUSION STAIN WARRANTY against ALL food and beverages, which covers most accidental household stains that most other warranties exclude such as coffee, red wine, and fruit punch.


WOOL is the only natural fiber generally used to make carpet today.  It has a moderate level of natural soil and stain resistance.  Wool carpet has a very elegant and luxurious look and feel to it.  It is generally very expensive and is most often used in area rugs. One downside is that wool carpet tends to shed.  This is to be expected and should be taken into consideration by anyone considering to buy a wool product.

Yarns can be either bulked continuous filament (BCF) or staple.  The polymer is forced through  a spinneret (extrusion) in uninterrupted filaments, which are then formed into a bulked continuous filament yarn.  These fibers may be chopped into short fibers and then spun into staple yarn, twisted, and set with heat to hold the twist.  A tighter twist is more important in cut pile because it resists the ends of the yarn from untwisting and matting together during wear and cleanings. 


Facts About Carpet Backing

All carpet has some type of backing system or chemistry that helps keep the tufts in place. Backing systems are made from a variety of materials and may also come with various kinds of protective treatments (such as anti-microbial or anti-stain) or beneficial properties (such as anti-static).


The methods and chemicals used depend upon the performance requirements of the backing and the carpet. These decisions will be based upon the specifier’s performance considerations and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Performance considerations are especially important for demanding environments. It’s important that the specifier identify the highest priority needs for how the carpet will perform, whether that is wear and tear, moisture-resistance, or heavy foot traffic. The manufacturers’ end use recommendations help determine which product will meet the established performance expectations.


Carpet backing systems contain the following elements: a primary backing, a chemical adhesive, and often a secondary backing. In the most common system, the yarn is secured into the primary backing by synthetic latex, and a secondary backing (or cushion) is attached with a bonding agent or adhesive to provide further pile-yarn stability and to add dimensional stability to the carpet structure.


Whether a carpet has a secondary backing depends upon the end use of the carpet and the location of the installation. Carpet for high performance end use generally has a primary backing and a secondary backing. Carpet for low traffic areas may have only a coating of latex, a secondary backing or a cushion attached to the primary polypropylene backing.






Dyeing & Color Selection


Dyeing is the process of coloring materials by impregnating fiber, yarn or fabric with dyestuff. Coloration in carpet can be achieved at two possible times in the manufacturing process – either by dyeing the fiber or yarn before the fabric is tufted or by dyeing the tufted fabric before the application of the secondary backing and the finishing process.

Pre-dyeing of yarn includes both solution dyeing and yarn dyeing.

  • Solution dyed: Extruded synthetic yarn from a colored solution; the filament is impregnated with pigment. Known for its outstanding colorfastness.
  • Yarn dyed: Yarn dyed before being manufactured into carpet. Yarn dyeing includes multicolor space dyeing and solid color yarn dyeing.
    • Space dyeing: Process whereby different colors are “printed” along the length of the yarn before it is manufactured into carpet.
    • Solid color yarn dyeing: Solid color yarn dyeing includes four different methods: skein dyeing, stock dyeing, pad dyeing and jet dyeing.

Post-dyeing of carpet methods include: beck dyeing, printing and continuous dyeing.

  • Beck dyeing or piece dyeing: Carpet dyed “in a piece” in a large beck of dyestuffs and water after tufting but before other finishing processes.
  • Printing: Printing involves the application of colored dyestuffs using screens, rollers or inkjets onto the face of the carpet.
  • Continuous dyeing:  Continuous dyeing involves the application of dyestuffs as the carpet moves in open width form under the applicator. The process is called “continuous” because it can be used to dye an almost unlimited quantity of 12-foot wide carpets, sewn end to end. (This is most often used in residential carpet.)

The dyeabilities of nylon are most commonly referred to as acid dyeable (light, medium or deep) and cationic (basic) dyeable. Acid Dyeable Nylonis the most common and it contains positively charged sites that attract dye.


The end use of the product will determine the type of dye method. To specify dye method, performance requirements should be taken into consideration. Manufacturers can determine the most appropriate construction, dye method and backing to meet the performance requirements. For example, a specifier may be concerned about fading in a setting with large windows, so the manufacturer would recommend a solution dyed product with superior colorfastness. If the specifier wants a wide variety of bright colors, the manufacturer might recommend yarn dyeing or space dyeing.



Using Color & Pattern


Floor coverings are one of the dominant fashion statements for an indoor setting.  Colors and patterns in a carpet can create a distinctive atmosphere, serve a practical purpose, and send a message.


Within a facility, bright colors with contrasting highlights can differentiate department or team areas.  An accent color on the floor can establish a break between the floor and the wall or stairway, and a printed or tufted pattern carpet can reinforce a corporate identity? 


Color selection of carpet is as diverse as the imagination can provide.  Quiet colors such as neutral earth colors or the blues of sky and water are chosen for a soothing effect or a corporate look, whereas warmer colors, reds, maize, and shades of orange are used for creating a mood of energy and vitality.


Mid-range colors and multicolor blends are best for hiding soil near entrances.  Carpet is being produced to coordinate with other interior finishes such as laminates, upholstery, natural stones, wall coverings and paint, and many carpet manufacturers will produce custom colors and constructions to meet individual specifications for design coordination.


A realization in healthcare facilities that Alzheimer’s patients can remember color differentiation better than numbers (according to the Alzheimer’s Association) may be a consideration in any public facility. Color can provide an easily remembered visual link to a specific hall or wing. Brighter colors also aid in depth perception and differentiation of areas such as registration desks or main offices. Color is also a good way to differentiate a group or team area, or to differentiate between departments.


There are also practical considerations in color selection.  New stain and soil resistant technologies make today's lighter color carpet much easier to clean, allowing for more design options.  Medium and darker colors, tweeds and textures are good at hiding soil in high-traffic areas.


Also, know that the color of your carpet will look different under different lighting conditions.




Much of the information provided on this page was provided by the Carpet & Rug Institute - additional information is listed on their website at www.carpet-rug.org 

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