Everything you need to know about Different Carpets and their Manufacture!
When choosing a carpet, it’s worth bearing in mind the visual, as well as the technical issues. One of the main factors when considering carpet is the amount of foot traffic that will be on the area once laid. The construction and the texture are both key in your selection, but, with so many carpets available on the market today, there really is something for everyone (and every room).
Why Choose Carpet?
Choosing carpet has its benefits, and these have only aided its recent popularity. They include the obvious warmth aspect – carpet is the ideal choice for bedrooms, family rooms and other areas where warmth underfoot is preferred – to insulation, where carpet really does provide that extra layer of padding, adding to energy efficiency.
Safety is another factor, as carpet guarantees a non-slip surface to prevent accidents and a natural cushion in the event of a fall, as is sound reduction, because carpet dampens noise in three ways: reducing surface noise from foot traffic, absorbing airborne sound and blocking transmission of sound between floors – handy for flats. And there is the design and decoration of a room. Carpet can be the key foundation of any room’s decor, and because it is available in so many textures and colours, carpet creates an unlimited number of possibilities for decorating.
The low cost of carpet offers an economical alternative to other flooring choices, while installation costs are typically less than for hard surfaces. Carpets on today’s market are also long-lasting and remarkably durable. The addition of carpet to any room can even disguise existing floor damage and hide other irregularities, such as uneven or warped floors.
How Different Carpets Are Made
Carpet is manufactured in one of two ways, either weaving or tufting. Woven carpets are made primarily with wool and are extremely robust, but normally expensive. Woven carpets can be produced by hand or by machine, however both methods largely follow the same procedure. Yarn is woven through or around vertical fibres called warps, then locked into place with horizontal strands.
More than 90 per cent of carpets sold today in the UK are created using the tufting method. Tufted carpets cover most colours, patterns and effects, and all manufacturers supply tufted carpet. Tufting machines use computers to determine patterns, styles, construction and density. Once the fibres are in place, the carpet is dyed using a variety of methods to create patterns or effects. For certain carpets, the final stage is stretched or the loops are cut. This stage will help determine the carpet’s feel and softness.
The carpet also receives a secondary stretched backing, to give it stability and to allow it to be stretched during installation. Most carpets today also receive stain protection during the manufacturing phase. The quality of a carpet will depend on the type of yarn used, and how that yarn is treated during manufacturing.
Excluding natural materials, nylon, polyester, wool and olefin are the mostly widely used fibres in carpet manufacturing, and each offers qualities useful in specific applications. Even though nylon is the most expensive type of fibre, it is also soft and resilient, which makes it great for any room in your home.
Polyester is less durable than nylon, but quite cost efficient – offering a high level of resistance to stains, which makes it an ideal choice for areas such as dining rooms. Olefin is solution dyed, which results in a highly resistant stain carpet that can be cleaned easily without colour loss. Unlike many other fibres, olefin is fade and mould resistant, which results in a carpet that works well both indoors or out.
Different varieties of pile are often combined to allow for a variety of textures, sculptured effects and colour combinations. So what are the most common texture options, which influence the look, feel and durability of your carpet?
Twist carpets are made of tightly twisted tufts, set to form a pile with a slightly textured surface. As one of the more popular styles, they’re available in wool and man made fibres. These types of carpet generally have a low pile height, which helps to reduce shading and flattening.
Often soft and extra smooth, this variety is cut several times to create a deluxe, velvety sheen and smooth appearance. It’s ideal for formal areas such as living rooms. There is not a major difference in performance between twist and velvet, as velvet usually has a relatively short pile. However the tufts will only have a limited amount of twist, and this allows them to burst open to create the velvet-like facade.
This is where the tufts are produced in loops and left uncut. It is hard wearing carpet, extremely easy to clean, and are well suited to a room where it will be well tread. Loop pile carpets are popular and available in a wide range of tones and patterns, in both wool and other materials.
Saxony carpets have a lovely soft texture created by twisting fibres tightly, then straightening yarn with heat. They are similar to velvets, but not quite as smooth and it’s worth remembering they are susceptible to holding foot marks. Saxony carpets have a very sensuous feel with a deep pile, and are extremely popular in bedrooms.
Most patterned carpets – and there is a huge variety on the market today – usually have a smooth velvet surface, and due to their construction, can be long-lasting, whatever the foot traffic.
The ‘Shag’ retro look is back in both practical and alternative styles. Shag uses a much longer tuft and a thicker yarn, but creates a warm and substantial piece of flooring, and is usually used in the bedroom.
Sisal is created from twisted yarns that imitate that hardy woven grass feel. With a stiff texture, it is particularly good for heavily-trod areas and comes in plenty of designs, colours and weaves. Sisal – unlike most other natural carpets – can be dyed and is available in an assortment of styles and colours, such as silver and blue, as well as all the naturals. It can be pricey but it’s highly durable.
A strong bit of flooring that is grown in paddy fields in China, and during the growing season, the fields are flooded with sea water. Once harvested, it is dried and spun into yarn to create the well-known sea-grass carpet. The yarn is pretty solid and therefore hard to dye, so it’s often just available in natural shades.
A great and natural covering, with very strong fibres and a textured appearance, Coir is more than able to stand some serious foot traffic. As with all plant fibre floor coverings, it’s really hardwearing and an economic alternative to traditional carpets.
Jute – derived from a plant called Genus Corchorus – is much softer than all the other natural floorings and, for that reason, a lot less durable. It is not recommended for high foot-traffic areas, but an eco-friendly option for the less used areas of the home.