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Understanding Carpet Materials

Before learning about the carpet construction process, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the materials used to make carpet. This allows you to understand their different characteristics and performance aspects. Some materials, for instance, are more durable and easier to clean. Others are softer and more luxurious.

Triexta

Triexta is one of the newer materials in the industry. It was invented by DuPont—the same company that invented nylon. Mohawk is the largest manufacturer to use triexta, which it markets under the name SmartStrand.

Triexta has grown in popularity, as it is considered more durable and resilient than polyester. In fact, many in the industry consider it to be as durable as nylon. It’s also hydrophobic, meaning it won’t absorb moisture. Because of this, it’s both stain- and fade-resistant.

Nylon

About half of all carpet manufactured today is made of nylon. Nylon is a top performer, resisting fading and heat as well as dirt and stains.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is the second most common material used in carpet, also present in approximately half of all carpet products manufactured today. While not as resilient or as durable as nylon, it resists staining, moisture, and fading. It is commonly used in loop pile carpet.

Polyester

Another popular choice, polyester is loved for its plushness, color, and stain resistance. It is only improving with new technologies.

Wool

A natural product, wool is easy to clean and ages well. It’s also pricier. Most of the wool used in carpet comes from New Zealand, Argentina, and the UK, and it tends to range in color from off-white to black with many earth tones.

The Carpet Construction Process

Carpet is actually made using a three-part process. The first step involves tufting. This is the process of weaving the fibers into a backing made of polypropylene. Tufting is done with a machine that uses up to 2,000 needles that work together to pull the yarn through the backing. As the needles penetrate the backing, a small hook known as a looper grabs the yarn and holds it in place. This results in loop pile carpet.

In other cases, the looper brushes against a knife and cuts the loops of yarn, creating what we know as cut pile carpet. The length of these cut pieces is known as the pile height. Some carpets feature a mix of both loop pile and cut pile.

Next comes the dyeing phase. Carpet can be dyed using one of two methods. The first is called yarn dyeing or pre-dyeing. This is when the color is applied before tufting begins. The second method—when the carpet is dyed after being tufted—is known as carpet dyeing. There are a couple of different techniques used when using this method: batch dyeing and continuous dyeing. Color can also be applied using screen printing.

The final step is known as finishing. This involves applying a coat of latex to the carpet’s backing. It is then applied to a secondary backing, which is usually made of women polypropylene. The two are then squeezed together in a heated press while all loose fibers are sheared away. Then, each carpet is carefully inspected before it’s rolled up and wrapped for shipping.