Carpet | How It's Made

Knowing how carpet is made can make the selection process easier. By understanding the different materials that make up various carpets helps you understand and evaluate their performance aspects: why certain carpets are easier to install, why some wear better, longer, and why others are easier to care for and clean. So let's dive right in...

Step 1: Selecting the Fiber

  • 90% are made from synthetic fiber such as Nylon, Polyester, Olefin and Polypropylene
  • 10% are made from natural fiber, such as wool, sisal and seagrass
Synthetic Fibers
  • created by chemical processes from oil and natural gas
Nylon
  • 75% is made of nylon
  • performs the best overall
  • leader in: appearance retention, fade and heat resistance, soil and stain resistance, color and styling
  • highest performance nylon is Type 6.6 for more resistant to stain penetration
Polyester
  • introduced to the carpet industry in the mid 1960's
  • well accepted for bulkiness, color clarity, and good stain and fade resistance
  • not as resilient as nylon
PET
  • A type of Polyester made from recycled plastic bottles
  • plastic is collected, separated by color, and then ground and melted
  • great color clarity, good stain resistance and durability
SmartStrand
  • A type of Polyester made with DuPont Sonora polymer
  • DuPont and Mohawk make this fiber
  • stain resistant and durable
  • 40% of the fiber made from corn by products
Polyproplene
  • introduced in the late 1950's in Italy
  • not as resilient or resistant to abrasion as nylon
  • naturally stain and fade resistant
  • naturally resistance to moisture
  • more limited range of color options
  • most often used in berber carpets
Wool
  • The wool used in today's carpet comes primarily from New Zealand, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.
  • Since wool is a natural fiber, it ranges in color from off-white to black, with many earthen tones between.
  • Wool doesn't stand up to abrasion and moisture as well as synthetics, it cleans well and is known to age gracefully.
  • Wool is typically a more expensive choice of carpet fiber

Carpet is made in a 3-part process.

#1 Tufting

  • begins with weaving the synthetic or staple fiber into a primary backing material
  • usually made of woven polypropylene
  • main value is to provide a base cloth to hold the yarn while tufting happens
  • tufting machine has 800 to 2000 needles like a sewing machine to pull the yarn through the primary backing material
  • tufting machine is 12 feet wide, its needles penetrate the backing and a small hook (looper) grabs the yarn and holds it in place
Loop pile construction (Berber)
  • holds appearance well
  • no exposed yarn tips
  • only sides of the yarn are exposed to wear and stress
Alternative step (Pattern or Cut/Loop)
  • sometimes the looper cuts small loops creating a cut pile
  • length of these pieces called pile height, or distance between the looper and primary backing
  • cuts are controlled by a computer, and can be programmed to cut only some of the loops
  • this cutting is called cut and loop construction and creates pattern on the surface

#2 Application of dye

Two dyeing processes
  • yarn dyeing / pre-dyeing - color is applied to the yarn prior to tufting
  • advantages are good side-by-side color consistency, large lot sizes, uniformity
  • carpet dyeing - applying color to the yarn after tufting
  • benefits - greater color flexibility
Carpet dyeing methods
  • Beck / batch dyeing - stitching the ends together, then running the tufted carpet loop through large vats of dye and water for several hours.
  • Beck process ideal for small runs, heavier face weight products
  • continuous dyeing - similar to Beck dyeing - carpet is also run through processes other than dying
  • continuous dyeing - applies color to the face by spraying or printing, also to create multicolor or patterned effects
  • screen printing - color is applied through anywhere from 1-8 silk-screens.

#3 Manufacturing the carpet

  • finishing process- single production line that completes the final construction stages
  • coating of latex applied to dyed carpet's primary and secondary backing
  • secondary backing - made of woven synthetic polypropylene
  • two parts are squeezed together in a large heated press and held firmly to preserve shape
  • shearing- removing loose ends and projecting fibers created during the tufting process
  • also helps the yarn's tip definition
  • inspection - for color uniformity and defects before it is rolled, wrapped, and shipped