How Carpet is Made
How Carpet is Made? You walk on it every day. You lay on it, you play on it. But where does it come from? Carpet manufacturing today is a mix of old-world craftsmanship and 21st century innovation. Carpet is manufactured in one of two ways – weaving or tufting. Woven carpets are made primarily with wool and are exceptionally durable (and frequently expensive). Woven carpets can be produced by hand – much in the same way that has been used for centuries – or by machine. Both methods follow the same procedures.
Carpet Tufting and Weaving
There are two primary ways to make carpet today. The first is called tufting. The second is called weaving. Tufting is a technique in which computers direct machines to construct specific densities, patterns and styles of carpet using synthetic yarn materials.
Step one is to weave the fibres into the backing material, which is there to keep the fibres in place. The tufting machine is like a giant sewing machine where 800 to 2,000 needles work together to pull the yarn through. Most tufting machines are about 12 feet wide. As its needles penetrate the backing, a small hook called a looper grabs the yarn and holds it in place. This process results in what is called loop pile construction. For some styles, the looper rocks back against a knife, allowing the small loops of yarn to be cut, creating a cut pile carpet.
Step two is to dye the carpet. Sometimes this is done before the final few processes — and sometimes it’s done afterwards. Carpets dyed prior are usually a single colour without a pattern or style. Carpets dyed after typically go through one or more silk screens to obtain the pattern or style that the computer had in mind.
In step three, a coating of latex is applied to both the tufted, dyed carpet’s primary backing, and also to secondary backing. The secondary backing is often made of a woven synthetic polypropylene material. The two parts are squeezed together in a large heated press, where they are held firmly to preserve their shape. Some manufacturers also apply stain protection during this step — a good idea now that red wine has become a new food group. The final steps are shearing (to remove all the little loose ends) and inspection (to ensure both quality and accuracy to the digital design).
Weaving, on the other hand, can be done by machine on massive looms or by hand. In either case, fibres (called “warps”) are placed vertically on a frame and pulled tight enough to maintain tension while yarn is being woven over, under or around them. After the weaving is complete, new fibres (called “wefts”) are laid horizontally across the yarn, locking the warps into place.
Woven carpets tend to be more luxurious and higher quality than tufted carpets — a fact reflected in their price.
Ninety percent of today’s carpets are made of synthetic fibre, comprised of one of three materials: nylon, polypropylene or polyester. All three are created by a chemical process that uses oil and natural gas.
The rest is natural fibre — most commonly wool, which is the most durable (and expensive), as well as silk and bamboo.
Which manufacturing process is right for you? That depends on your desired look, the level of expected foot traffic and your budget. A good quality carpet can last a long time — so consider amortizing the cost across the many years that you and your family will enjoy this both timeless and timely choice of floor covering.
Carpet Yarns & FIbres
Yarn is woven through or around vertical fibres called warps, then locked into place with horizontal strands called wefts. Woven carpets can utilize a wide variety of colours to create intricate patterns in the highest quality carpets. More than 90 % of carpets sold today are created using the tufting method. 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 cut-pile carpeting, the final stage is stretched, or cutting the pile loops. This stage will help determine the carpet’s feel and softness. The carpet also receives a secondary stretched backing to give it stability and allow it to be stretched during installation. Most carpets today also receive stain protection during the manufacturing phase.
The quality of a carpet will also depend on the type of yarn used, and how that yarn is treated during manufacturing. Continuous fibres are heat-set and twisted at the mill to produce a tightly twisted product most commonly found in frieze carpets. This kind of yarn is less bulky but holds its shape for a long time.
Other Methods to Make Carpet
The other common type of yarn is spun or staple yarn, which is made from short lengths of fibre that are spun together, creating a yarn that is much less likely to unravel. Staple yarns will go through a complex series of treatments, including blending, spinning, twisting and heat setting.