Everything Carpet – Taking a Closer Look Under Foot

Colors, fibers, backings, ratings, traffic, maintenance… There is a lot to consider in the wide world of carpet. Choosing the right commercial carpet can be overwhelming. There are so many carpets available that customers often don’t know where to start. Knowledge is power, so being educated about what is what under foot will go a long way in helping make the best decision for your space.

TARR Ratings

Luckily, the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has developed a rating system to assist buyers in making the right choice when purchasing carpet. Texture Appearance Retention Ratings (TARR) help determine the right commercial carpet for specific areas of use. TARR tests a carpet’s ability to remain tufted and retain its original shape after being properly installed and maintained in commercial setting. These ratings simplify your carpet selection by taking the guesswork out of which carpet will be best suited for your installation or renovation. Ratings are categorized as Moderate, Heavy and Severe based on the end use of a carpet in a specific application. Carpets are tested in environments that mock everyday foot traffic to simulate commercial settings. The better and longer the carpets keep their original, tufted shape the higher their rating. By using this guideline, you can quickly and easily select the right commercial carpet that will perform the most effectively for your application. Here is a guide:

  • Moderate (≥ 2.5 TARR): Offices, examination rooms, areas with light foot traffic.
  • Heavy (≥ 3.0 TARR): Corridors, classrooms, conference rooms, libraries, military housing
  • Severe (≥ 3.5 TARR): Airports (and other transportation facilities), medical facilities, elevators, stairs, multipurpose areas (This is considered the most durable.)

To determine which rating numbers apply to your purchase, it’s necessary to analyze your carpet goal. Most importantly, determine the end-use area for the carpet. Where the carpet will be and what kind of traffic will be in the area. Then decide on the design, pattern, and color of the carpet you’re considering and further narrow your search. Learn what products will best repel and/or hide stains, consider your color scheme, and then review the TARR numbers of the carpet that fits that criteria.

Carpet Fiber

There are four main classes of fibers that are used for carpets and rugs. Almost all carpet is made from synthetic fibers, making them more affordable and more stain resistant than natural materials. Synthetic fibers are also more durable, but they all have their pros and cons.

Primary Fibers:

Nylon

  • Strongest of all the fibers
  • Excellent resistance to abrasion, mold, mildew and many chemicals
  • Easy to dye and maintain
  • Durable and static-free
  • Excellent elasticity
  • Maintains fiber height
  • Resists soil and staining
  • Moderately priced
  • Midlevel and higher quality brands can last 12-15 years

Olefin/Polypropylene

  • Next most popular after nylon
  • Colorfast, strong, abrasion resistant, elastic
  • Easy to clean
  • Moisture and mildew resistant
  • Does well in high traffic areas
  • Usually the least expensive of all the fibers
  • Is prone to matting and crushing (depending on pile cut)

 Polyester/ Polyester Recycled Carpet Fiber

  • Does not do as well as others in high traffic
  • Has a luxurious, soft feel
  • More stain resistant than nylon, but not as strong
  • Comes in bright colors and many textures
  • Less expensive than wool and nylon

 Acrylic

  • Not as durable as the other fibers – it’s lightweight and soft
  • Often called “man-made” wool because of the look and feel (but a fraction of the cost)
  • Resists static electricity, moisture, mildew, fading, crushing, staining and sun damage
  • Fair to good abrasion resistance
  • Does not hold up well in high traffic areas

Carpet Backing

If you flip over any carpet, there’s something else important — the backing. The underside of a carpet is also called the backing. It secures the tufts and gives the carpet additional strength and dimensional stability. Most carpets have a double backing: the primary backing – where the yarn is tufted into, and the secondary backing which is the outer material. You may also hear the term “unitary backing,” which is a heavy application of coating applied directly to the carpet’s back without using a secondary backing.

Depending on the performance requirements, carpet backings can be made from different types of material, (jute, polypropylene, rubber, etc.) and can have a number of additional treatments applied, including anti-stain, anti-microbial and anti-static. Performance becomes increasingly important when you analyze the type of environment where the carpet will be installed. In order to have the product meet your performance expectations consider the degree of traffic, whether or not wear and tear will be a factor and if moisture-resistance and stain-resistance are important. Carpet backings are generally available in three types: Standard, Performance, and High Performance.

Standard Backing — This the lowest level and is mostly used on carpets for residential applications. Products with this backing can be used commercially, but there is potential for wrinkling or buckling if it is used in high traffic areas. This backing cannot be used in commercial facilities where rolling traffic is present.

Standard Backing details:

  • Usually made from natural jute fiber or manmade polypropylene (which is a synthetic thermoplastic resin)
  • Available in woven and non-woven constructions
  • Lightweight, yet stable
  • Mildew resistant
  • Ideally used in low traffic settings
  • Economical
  • Usually found on broadloom carpeting
  • Limited on warranties

 Performance Backing —  This backing represents a higher standard of backing and delivers more dimensional stability and strength than Standard Backing. It is designed for commercial environments.

Performance Backing details:

  • Stops zippering and edge raveling
  • Has high tuft bind properties
  • Dense latex backing
  • Holds carpet yarns in place for better performance
  • Recommended in high traffic areas
  • Enhanced warranties (up to 10 year limited)
  • Used on broadloom carpeting
  • Ideal for direct glue installations

High Performance Backing —  This backing is usually unitary. It is designed to provide long-term durability and can help protect the carpet from stains, spills and moisture. This backing is made for demanding commercial environments.

High Performance Backing details:

  • Extra dense latex (prevents moisture penetration beneath the backing)
  • Ideal for high traffic areas
  • Recommended for glue down installations only
  • Can be used with a releasable adhesive for easy replacement of individual tiles (the glue remains tacky so no additional adhesive is needed)
  • Moisture resistant
  • Has high tuft bind properties
  • Holds stains on the top surface
  • Broadloom/carpet tile
  • Extended to lifetime warranties

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