What You Should Consider When Carpet Replacement Time Arrives

April 18, 2002
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If your facility's carpeting has reached the end of its useful life or if you have remodeling/redecorating plans, there are key factors on which you should base your selection of replacement carpet. Included are carpet construction, proper installation and maintenance, fibers, manufacturing methods, backings and where and how the carpet will be used. Here is a guide for you to use.

Olefin is now being used when there are budget limitations, or if resistances to sunlight fading or low static electricity levels are important. It holds up well to cleaning chemicals and is stain resistant.

Wool is resilient, but because of its higher cost is usually used as a decorative accent and in lower traffic areas.

Nylon, by far the most prevalent fiber, is available in carpet as Type 6 and Type 6.6. Both are made from petroleum-based chemicals. The differences between the two are associated with the manufacturing and the dyeing processes. Both are good for use in public facilities.

Nylon is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance and resilience and is favorably priced. Solution-dyed nylon is also resistant to harsh cleaning chemicals and sunlight fading.

BCF/Continuous Filament: Fibers can be either bulked continuous filament (BCF) or staple. Carpet fibers are made as melted chips and forced through a spinneret (extrusion) in uninterrupted filaments, which are then formed into bulked continuous filament yarn. These fibers may be chopped short 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 keeps the ends of the yarn from untwisting and matting together during wear and cleanings.

Dyeing: The method by which the carpet is dyed is of great importance. Solution Dyeing is preferred in areas subject to spills because the color pigment is inserted into the melted polymers during extrusion. The color is throughout the yarn; thereby offering excellent cleanability, and staining is less likely.

Other dyeing methods are:

  • Stock dyeing (color applied after extrusion but prior to spinning),
  • Yarn Dyeing (finished yarn is dyed),
  • Piece or Continuous Dyeing, and
  • Printing (color applied after the yarn has been tufted-more often on cut pile carpet).

    Construction/Location/Appearance
    A carpet's look is determined by the construction (loop, cut or cut-and-loop). In corridors, lobbies, offices, classrooms, hotel rooms, patient care and public areas loop piles of low, dense construction retain appearance and resiliency to provide a better carpet surface for the rolling traffic of wheel chairs or food carts. Cut pile or cut-and-loop pile carpets are good choices for administration areas, libraries, individual offices and boardrooms.

    Carpet Performance is associated in part with pile yarn density-the amount of pile yarn in a given volume of carpet face. For a given carpet weight, lower pile height and higher pile yarn density give the most performance for the money. Density is influenced by the number of tufts per inch when counting across a width of carpet, e.g., a 1/8 gauge carpet has eight tuft rows per inch of width and a 1/10 gauge carpet has 10 rows per inch of width; and the size of the yarn in the tufts. Extra heavy traffic conditions require a density of 5000 or more.

    Various types of carpet backing systems have advantages of higher tuft binds, added stability, and being impervious to moisture and resistant to edge raveling. Consideration should be given to functional needs for a particular area where the carpet will be used.

    The CRI publishes The Carpet Specifier's Handbook and The Carpet Primer that go into detail about the complete specifications for carpet in commercial facilities. They also publish How to Specify Commercial Carpet Installation and CRI-104, Commercial Carpet Installation Standard. For more information, write The Carpet and Rug Institute, P. O. Box 2048, Dalton, Ga., 30722-2048, call them at 706-278-3176 or 800-882-8846, or visit the CRI Web site at www.carpet-rug.com.

    Manufacturing Specifications
    You should understand carpet construction and the variables that affect performance in the specific installation. Tufting, weaving and fusion bonding processes are used to manufacture carpet, with each producing quality products. Tufting is the most prevalent and weaving the more costly due to production time.

    Tufting machines are similar to sewing machines with several hundred needles stitching hundreds of rows of pile yarn tufts through a backing fabric called the primary backing. The yarn is either caught by loopers and held in place for loop pile carpet or by blades and cut for cut pile carpet. There can be a combination of the two for cut and loop pile textures. The finishing may be a secondary fabric backing or an attached cushion backing.

    Weaving involves a simultaneous weaving of pile yarns and backing yarns into a total product. A backcoating, usually latex, is applied. Principal variations of woven carpet include velvet, Wilton and Axminster.

    Fusion bonding involves implanting yarns into a coated backing. Fusion bonded carpet is most often die-cut for use as modules or tiles, usually backed with a polymeric material to provide stability.

    Modules are used for design possibilities, for ease of installation where continuous business operation is important (carpet installed without disrupting surrounding areas), and for replacing one damaged square when necessary.

    Custom carpet can be manufactured in a selection of widths, custom colors/designs, and more. The reduction of waste can often offset the manufacturing premium price charged. Commercial carpet is also available in six-foot widths for ease of delivery in high-rise buildings and to facilitate the installation of electronic wiring in office cubicles.

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