All About Carpet
What You Need To Know About Carpet
Many factors come into play when trying to figure out how long a carpet might last. Here are some of the key reasons that affect how long a carpet will last:
- The fiber type and style, tuft twist, density rating, pile height.
- How much foot traffic is in the home, the number of children, pets, and teens?
- How well it is maintained, regular vacuuming, periodic cleaning.
- How well it is installed (properly stretched)
- What padding is used, type, thickness and density.
Selecting the right carpet fiber is one of the most important aspects in selecting the right carpet for your home or office.
Nylon is the best wearing fiber available today. You may choose another fiber for various reasons, but nylon is well known for being the best choice if you want your carpet to last a long time. Nylon is a synthetic fiber and outperforms all other synthetic fibers. It wears well, resists abrasion and is easy to clean when anti-stain treatments are applied or designed into the fiber (Scotchgard®, Stainmaster®, Teflon®, etc.). Nylon comes in hundreds of beautiful styles and colors. Nylon is the longest-wearing, most resilient and durable fiber.
- Exceptionally strong
- Abrasion resistant
- Resistant to damage from oil and many chemicals
- Can be pre-colored or dyed in wide range of colors
- Low in moisture absorbency
“Soft” Nylon The newest thing on the market is the introduction of the “soft nylons” The fiber feels soft due to its super small diameter. Think of it like baby hair vs. coarse hair.
Some people love the look and soft feel of wool carpets but can’t afford to buy it. Now consumers have a less expensive option with a new type of “softer” nylon carpet. Sold under the registered names of Tactesse®, Lisse’®, Anso Caress® and others, this nylon carpet fiber may be exactly what you are looking for. While less expensive than wool, the prices for this softer nylon carpet will be higher than most standard nylon carpets. Ask to see these softer nylon carpet styles at your carpet dealer, but more importantly, be sure you know if this style of carpet will meet your needs and lifestyle. These softer nylons are not meant for every residential situation.
This is a new type of fiber that has this long chemical name: Polyethylene Terephthalate, but still falls in the class of fibers known commonly as polyesters. This PET fiber, however, is “not your daddy’s polyester”. This fiber has natural and permanent stain resistance. PET fiber is stronger than the old polyester and has better abrasion resistance. Unlike the old polyester, the PET product is more resistant to abrasion. The fiber is made from PET chips, some of which come from recycled plastic containers, hence the name “pop bottle carpet”. Recycling does not affect the quality of the fiber, thus this product could be a future fiber that could be recycled over and over.
Although this fiber is very soft, it will not hold up to high traffic like Nylon. If you need a carpet that wears well and resists matting and crushing, PET may not be for you.
TRIEXTA (Mohawk Sorona)
Also, in the Polyester family is its superior cousin PTT. This fiber is known as SMARTSTRAND and is a polymer made from corn. Mohawk recently received FTC approval to market this fiber under its own class. This PTT fiber will now be know as TRIEXTA. This fiber is even stronger than PET polyester, and has better colorfastness and cleanability features than PET. PTT is as colorfast as solution dyed nylon. This fiber is extremely soft, and yet behaves better than staple nylon, especially in a shag construction. If you have kids and pets, and are going to be in the home more than 10 years, PTT is a good choice. Triexta will indeed be a fiber for the future.
Olefin resists stains and static better than any other fiber. Polypropylene fibers are dyed in their solution state rather than after completion. Polypropylene’s natural ability to resist stains makes it a good choice for areas prone to food spills. Polypropylene also resists static so it’s a good choice for areas around computer and electronic equipment
Olefin fibers are very durable, moisture resistant and are resistant to mold and mildew growth, making many olefin carpets suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Olefin carpet fibers are also easy to clean with water and an approved carpet cleaner and are safe from damage by most chemicals and acid–based stains.
Depending on the type of fiber construction, olefin fibers may crush easily, which is why looped carpets, such as Berber, and other types of carpet that have good resilience, are generally the best choice for olefin fibers.
Pile Height and Density
When shopping for carpet you will hear terms like face weight, density and twist. These are the three things that determine the construction of the carpet’s surface. First of all face weight is just the amount of fiber on the surface of the carpet expressed in ounces per square yard.
The term density is simply what the name implies. The closer together the strands of the fiber are together at the base of the carpet, the more dense the carpet. Density is important because it effects how the carpet is going to look and perform. For example a low face weight carpet i.e. 18 ounces, if constructed in a loop that is extremely dense, will last for years. A prime example is that old kitchen carpet made from nylon. It lasted for years in your KITCHEN! Nylon is so strong, that even 18 ounces performed when constructed in a dense short pile. If one were to make a carpet less dense, then the amount of yarn and its twist level would have to increase in order to achieve the same level of performance.
Twist level is the amount of twist that two plies (or more) of fiber are given. You can sometimes count the twists by examining the face of the carpet carefully. The more twist in the fiber, the less dense the carpet has to be, and it can even have less fiber. A short, medium dense, 40 ounce face fiber, high twist carpet will last as long as many looped carpets. A twist level of six twists per inch is a good starting point. This means in an inch of a two ply fiber there would be six turns or twist that you could count.
This type of carpet is usually one solid color and has a smooth, even pile height. During manufacturing, the tufts of this type of carpet are sheared to make the pile perfectly flat. It is the most popular style used in homes and apartments today. You can find practically any color imaginable. When made of nylon this type of carpet cleans easily and will wear well if properly maintained. Plush carpets will show footprints and vacuum marks.
This plush carpet style often has more than one color of yarn and has varying tuft heights, thus reducing footprint and vacuum marks. It comes in many colors and has about the same cost as an even pile height plush style.
This style of carpet has very tightly twisted tufts and wears very well. This style of carpet can last 15 years or more. It is often used in heavy traffic areas and provides reduced footprint and vacuum marks. Typically, this would be a durable and elegant selection for the home.
This type of carpet has two types of tufts used in its construction, one is looped and one is not, which gives this carpet a hi-low appearance. The color usually varies in shade from light to dark and is rich in appearance. Not as popular as it was during the 70’s and 80’s, it is often used in apartments.
The tufts are looped and aligned in rows for a clean uniform look. When choosing this carpet be sure to select one with smaller loops to get the best wear. Large looped Berbers tend to collapse quickly and look worn-out sooner.
Berber carpet in apartments or homes with small children or domestic pets can snag and run easily and is difficult to repair. This carpet is usually made of Olefin fiber but is also available in nylon.
Cut Pile Berber
This style of Berber is not really a Berber at all. It does not have loops. It has a similar appearance of a plush style carpet but has a multicolored appearance, a speckled look. Usually the main color is light with darker flecks of color throughout.
Level loop and cut pile styles
Commercial carpets are generally used in offices and commercial applications where there is heavy traffic. Commercial Level loop has small loops and Commercial Cut Pile is a short napped plush type of carpet. Both are usually made of nylon or olefin.
Recent advancements in olefin fibers have allowed for a carpet with brighter colors and more durability than previously available. Commercial carpet is usually glued directly to the floor although it can be installed over 1/4″ high-density (6 to 8 pound) padding.
Any looped carpet can easily snag and run, and for that reason is not often used in residential settings where there are children or pets. This may be a good choice considering this carpet lasts a long time and takes a beating! The negative aspect of using commercial carpet is that this type of carpet is much thinner than non-commercial carpets and is not as soft underfoot.
Today’s carpets require special padding unlike the carpets of even ten years ago. If you do not follow the manufacturer’s padding guidelines, you will void your carpet warranty. It is up to the professional carpet dealer to inform you of the correct padding for each particular need. Remember the most expensive pad you will ever get is the FREE PAD offered by some stores.
Types of Padding
Waffle Rubber (not recommended)
This type of padding is still being used today but often improperly. The waffle part of the padding gives it a thickness that is mostly air, and as a result, any of this type of padding rated less than 90 ounces is still too soft for today’s plastic backed carpets. Also, despite claims to the contrary, the rubber used to make these paddings, is held together with clay type binders that break down with use.
Foam Padding (not recommended)
This type of padding is made from urethane foam and is available in different densities and thickness. Generally this type of pad is referred to a “prime foam”, but, regardless of the thickness, is not recommended for heavy traffic of any kind. All that air under the carpet just causes the carpet to move up and down so much that the backing soon breaks down. Some enhancements have been tried like loading the foam with binders to make it heavier, or compressing the cells. However, both of these methods leave a foam that still does not support the carpet like other types of padding.
Rebond (This is what we use)
This type of padding is used most often by the floor covering industry. It is made from of scraps of the high density foams used in furniture making that are bonded together. Rebond padding comes in various thicknesses and densities. The density is rated at so many pounds per cubic foot. For example, a 5 lb rebond pad would weigh 5lb per cubic foot. The carpet cushion council recommends a pad of at least 5lbs and 3/8 inch thickness for light traffic (your living room), and a pad of 6.5 lbs and 3/8 inch for heavy traffic (hallways). These are minimum guidelines, we use 8lb pad for longer wear.
Also, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends that for residential use, the pad shall not exceed 7/16ths inch. I am sure this is because proper alignment with the tack strip is best for a nicer looking finished product, and there is a less of a chance for too much up and down movement in the carpet. This could contribute to wrinkles in the carpet. We also offer “virgin” rebond pad. It is the best rebond you can buy. It is made with foam that is not scrap but is made specifically for carpet pad.
Slab Rubber (available by special order)
For the more luxury and long wear one could use 100 ounce 19lb density slab rubber padding. Unlike the waffle rubber padding, slab rubber does not contain big ripples of air. This pad feels much like 8lb rebond, but will resist furniture indentation and crushing for a much longer period of time. This type of pad is used in commercial settings where pad is required or where in floor radiant heat is used.
Fiber (not recommended in most applications)
These pads are used when one wants to limit the movement in a piece of carpet. This pad can be made from jute, or hair mixed with jute, or synthetic fiber, or recycled textile fiber. Most often these pads are used under area rugs, under commercial carpets, and under some Berber carpets. The key here is density. Spun nylon is best. Stay with at least 7.5 lbs per cubic ft. density on the synthetic fiber, and 12 lb density on the jute pads. Thickness should be between 3/8 and 7/16 inch. Total weight should be 40 ounces per square yard.
Frothed Foam (available by special order)
The ultimate padding on the market is Frothed Foam. This pad is a super dense urethane and is made 7/16ths inch thick. It is extremely durable. This pad can be used under all carpets, will reduce furniture indentations, and prolong the life of your carpet better than any rebond, fiber, waffle rubber or prime foam.
The newest example of this type of pad is made by Shaw Industries Inc. out of Dalton GA. Here are the specs in more detail about this type of cushion.
A Hi-Density Mechanically Frothed Chemically Blown Micro Closed Cell Foam Cushion, the micro cell construction allows each cell to act like a tiny shock absorber. This gives outstanding resilience and support. This pad will NOT bottom out. “MFCB” pad is ideal for the heaviest