ICS Magazine

"No Wet" Backings

June 15, 2000
As we enter the fifth month of a new year, changes continue to take place in the carpet industry and what we once taught as part of IICRC courses is changing somewhat. One change that is occurring is related to staple yarns. Traditionally, staple yarns have been used only for cut pile carpet construction. Because staple yarns are spun from short lengths of filament they are sometimes a little “hairy” looking. Now the staple yarns can be processed thru a singing procedure that burns off the hairy portion of the yarn and also adds to the integrity of the staple yarn.

Thus allowing staple yarns to be used in loop constructions including commercial graphics. Not earth shattering for the average cleaner but a change that should be noted. We are also beginning to see polyester used in commercial applications, mostly in light traffic commercial situation such as hospitality and some institutional settings. Polyester’s inherent properties such as stain resistance and excellent color retention would seem to make it a good choice for these applications. Time and traffic will tell.

Fiber/yarn advances also include dyeable polypropylene. This will mean that some berbers that were nylon/olefin blends will be used for the highlight speckles characteristic of berbers. The result is a more stain-proof product. Good news for the cleaner!

Changes are also taking place in secondary backings. Shaw Industries in particular has modified secondary backings to make them more installer and consumer friendly by attaching a “fleece” to the back of the carpet. This makes carpet softer, easier to handle and also lighter in weight. It also has much less of a tendency to scratch base moldings which may not seem important unless your 8" baseboards have been scratched by a stiff berber. Another advantage is that these carpets appear to be more dimensionally stable with less need arising for restretching due to wrinkles in the carpet.

Another change taking place is an increased interest among carpet manufacturers to keep wet spills such as urine out of the carpet’s secondary backing and also out of the cushion/padding and out of the subfloors. This helps eliminate destruction of subfloors by moisture and keeps odor causing materials up in the face fibers where they are more easily removed or neutralized. Had a client last week with four-month-old carpet that had been thoroughly christened by the resident cat. The problem affected cushion, concrete subfloor and tackless stripping. There was also extensive delamination occurring. What urine residues had not penetrated and had stayed in the face fibers was relatively easily dealt with.

Varied techniques are being used to prevent penetration of the wet spills including in some cases applying fluorochemicals such as Scotchguard or Teflon to the primary backing prior to tufting the carpet. In some cases the fluorochemical is mixed in with the latex compound used to attach the secondary backing. The ultimate in prevention of moisture penetration into the cushion would seem to be a moisture barrier product applied over the cushion during the installation process which would hold the contaminant out of the cushion but which breathes and would allow moisture to move out of the cushion and thereby allow it to dry if necessary.

What does keeping the moisture up in the face fibers mean to the average cleaner? It probably means more profit opportunities. The pet accident which formerly would have “gone away” into the backing and padding leaving a 2"-3" spot will now spread out over the backings of the carpet leaving a 6" to 9" spot which will be much more visible and will “scream” to be corrected. It will decrease the amount of wicking that will take place and lower the volume of call backs because the spot returned. It will also make the odor control process easier since most of the odor causing stuff will be right up on top where it can be dealt with more easily and more successfully.

All things considered, looks like theses advances will make the cleaner's life easier and more profitable. Pay attention! Things are changing. Seems like the only constant is change. Profound, eh? Stay tuned for further updates. Until next month, Seeya!