Understanding Carpet Construction
The look and performance of a particular carpet are 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 styles with low dense construction tend to retain their appearance and resiliency and generally provide a better surface for the rolling traffic of wheel chairs or food carts. Cut pile or cut and loop pile carpets 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, imperviousness to moisture and resistance to edge raveling. Consideration should be given to the functional needs of a particular area.
Understanding carpet construction assists in specifying elements that will provide the best performance in a particular location. Commercial carpet is primarily manufactured by tufting or weaving. Each process will produce quality floor coverings, but tufted carpet accounts for 95 percent of all carpet construction. Both tufting and woven manufacturing are efficient and employ advanced technology to provide capability for a myriad of patterns and floor covering.
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.
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 (dyeing or backing).
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.
Understanding Carpet Fibers
To get the best performance and most enjoyment out of your carpet it’s essential to select a carpet fiber that fits your needs. The majority of the carpet produced in the United States contains one of five primary pile fibers: nylon, polyester, polypropylene (olefin), triexta and wool. Synthetic fibers represent the vast majority of the fiber used to manufacture carpet in the U.S. Each fiber type offers somewhat different attributes of durability, abrasion resistance, texture retention, stain and soil resistance, colorfastness, ease of cleaning and color clarity. Manufacturers, retailers, specifiers, and designers are valuable resources in helping you determine the most appropriate fiber and carpet construction for your needs.
Facts on Backings
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 generally comprise a primary backing and a chemical adhesive. Frequently, a secondary backing is included. 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.