Monday, October 25, 2010

Types of Carpet Fibers

Pile fiber represents more than 80% of the cost of most residential carpet; therefore differences in price between carpet styles usually can be attributed to differences in fiber. Of the three most commonly used fibers (nylon, olefin, and polyester), nylon is by far the most expensive fiber and the best all around performer. In comparing price alone, a polyester fabric could be one-third less than the cost of a comparable nylon product.
In addition, when comparing two like fibers, there can be considerable cost differences between the two. Nylon, for example, may be type 6 or type 6,6 and may be branded or unbranded. These factors influence value, price and performance as well. It is impossible to purchase carpet and anticipate performance or value by fiber ounce weight alone. In essence, two 40-ounce nylon fabrics may differ in price by 30% or more. There are a number of variables to consider in selecting the proper carpet product. Hopefully, the descriptions contained in this explanation will make the decision easier rather than more confusing.

Staple and continuous filament

Each of the fiber systems used in the manufacture of carpet can be divided into two classifications: staple and bulked continuous filament (BCF). Nylon is produced in both staple and BCF yarn. Olefin is typically produced in BCF only. Polyester is manufactured in staple only; cotton and wool are inherently staple. Staple yarns are yarns that are produced in short lengths and spun and twisted together (like cotton) to form long threads of yarn and tufted into carpet. BCF yarns are actually long filaments of fiber that are plied together to form continuous bundles of fiber.
Many lower face weight products and higher end carpet products are manufactured using staple yarns. These yarns can be spun by the manufacturer into any size yarn bundle and provide more styling flexibility. This allows manufacturers to spin very small yarn plies for pinpoint saxonies and very large bundles for shag or cabled yarns. Staple fiber also is used to manufacture the beautiful velvet plushes that signify luxury and comfort.
Some consumers prefer bulked continuous filament fibers, because they do not shed loose filaments following carpet installation. Staple fibers will shed loose filaments for a short time following carpet installation. In some cases with staple fibers, you may notice your vacuum cleaner bag filled with these short staples. In lower quality staple fibers (short staple length) these filaments will work loose and accumulate on the carpet surface. As mentioned, staple fibers offer design opportunities that BCF fibers cannot. Better quality staple fibers shed very little because of their length (8-10 inches vs. 3-4 inches). This loose fiber is generated when the tufts are cut to form cut pile. While one end of the staple is anchored in the synthetic latex adhesive (see construction), the cutting of the tuft may sever the end of the staple that is not anchored. This unanchored cut staple will eventually work loose of the yarn tuft.
While this shedding does not affect carpet performance or long-term appearance, you should be aware that this is a normal occurrence and the shedding will stop with time depending upon the frequency of vacuuming or the amount of foot traffic. In rare instances, when shedding exceeds six months and frequent vacuuming has been performed, you should contact the manufacturer. In these cases, poor encapsulation of the yarn bundle with synthetic latex may have occurred. As stated, this is very rare but it should be noted.
To distinguish between staple and BCF yarns, look on the sample label for the description BCF or CFN (continuous filament nylon). Any sample label that does not carry this designation is probably a staple fiber. If you are looking at roll goods, where a sample is not available, rub your thumb across the fiber over the same area. If short filaments work loose, it is probably a staple fiber.

Nylon

Nylon is utilized in approximately 65% of the carpet sold in the U.S. It is a very durable fiber with excellent performance characteristics. Its strengths include good resiliency, good yarn memory to hold twist, good carpet cleaning efficacy, good stain resistance with stain treatment applied, good soil hiding ability, and good abrasion resistance. Nylon is manufactured in both BCF and staple fiber. It is the strongest fiber, making it an excellent choice for the heavy traffic of an active household or commercial facility. It's also the most durable of the synthetics. It is soil and mildew resistant and resilient, but is prone to static. Most nylon is treated with an anti-static treatment to reduce static. Continuous filament fibers minimize piling and shedding.
There are two basic types of nylon (type 6 and type 6,6) and each provides different performance characteristics. For many years, type 6,6 has been considered to be the premium nylon fiber, but technological advances in dyeing and twisting processes have narrowed the gap between the two. However, type 6,6 remains the premium nylon fiber used today. If you are looking for value goods, type 6 nylon fibers offer a considerable benefit for the money. Nylon fibers also can be branded or unbranded. For example, DuPont nylon (type 6,6) is manufactured by DuPont and is a premium fiber. Many fibers that do not carry a brand name may be extruded by the carpet manufacturer (typically type 6) and can be considered value goods. Branded fibers traditionally cost more than value goods. This can be attributed to a number of factors including the shape of the fiber (soil hiding), topical treatments (stain inhibitors), minimum construction requirements (twist level, pile weight), and consistency of fiber quality. However, you should not base your purchase decision solely on branded vs. unbranded or type 6 vs. 6,6. Because of lower cost for the fiber, an unbranded type 6 fiber may be able to provide better construction attributes for the same dollar amount.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene, also called olefin, is the fastest growing fiber segment in use today. It is a relatively inexpensive fiber, which is easily extruded by most carpet manufacturers. There are very few, true branded olefins available other than those brands registered by carpet manufacturers. Olefin makes up about 30 % of the fiber used in U.S. carpet manufacturing today. Its strengths include superior stain resistance, with the exception of oil-based stains, and low cost. It is a solution-dyed product, which means color is added during extrusion in its molten state rather than topically applied. (Imagine a carrot vs. a radish). Because of this dye method it has superior resistance to bleaches and sunlight fading. However it has poor resiliency, which can lead to crushing. Color selection is limited due to its dye method. It has poor abrasion resistance and its low melt point can cause fibers to fuse if furniture or other objects are dragged across its surface. Olefins clean very well and most staining is non-existent. Olefin was originally favored for outdoor carpeting and basements due to its resistance to moisture, mildew, water damage, staining, piling, shedding and static all for lower cost than nylon. Now it's more widely used for its durability and appearance. Since it's dyed before it's made into a fiber, olefin is extremely colorfast.
This description should not scare you away from olefin, because constructed properly, olefins provide an excellent value and good performance. Olefin would not work well in a busy airport or school environment, but will perform well in a busy family room. In acknowledging it's weaknesses, it is easy to find a suitably constructed olefin Berber or other loop pile product. Steer clear of big loop Berber with low density and never consider any cut pile olefin for residential use. These constructions typically fail with any fiber system, but olefin is especially susceptible to pile crush in these constructions. A properly constructed olefin will outperform a similarly constructed nylon product because of its inherent stain and fade resistance, but a poorly constructed olefin will ultimately lead to dissatisfaction. Olefin is manufactured in BCF only.

Polyester

Polyester fiber produces some of the most beautiful colorations available.It is also extremely fade resistant and provides excellent resistance to stains. However, like olefin, it does have poor resilient properties and thus, is susceptible to crushing. Polyester fabrics are generally sold in heavy face weights with high-density construction. Avoid high pile heights with low-density construction. These products tend to flatten and "ugly" out. Also look for high twist levels rather than "blown" yarns. Loose twists (blown yarn) tend to untwist and the yarn tips tend to fuse together creating a matted appearance. Most consumers like to dig their fingers into the carpet pile and if it provides a luxurious feel (hand) they believe this is excellent quality. This is referred to as "perceived" quality. True quality exists when it is difficult to insert your fingers into the pile. This is a true test for all carpet constructions, but it is a necessity for polyester fibers. This will be discussed in detail under the construction basics section.
Polyester is manufactured in staple fiber only. While it's not as durable as nylon, it's quite durable and resists wear. Polyester offers a wide selection of textures and colors. It is non-allergenic, sheds moisture and resists moths and mildew at a lower cost than wool or nylon. While it's susceptible to piling, shedding and oil-based stains, it otherwise cleans fairly easily and is enhanced by stain treatments. Some polyester fibers are recycled from plastic pop bottles, so if environmental concerns are a major issue for you, ask for polyester fibers that have been reclaimed from post consumer use products.

Wool

This traditional favorite offers a deep, rich look and feel. Wool remains the premier fiber in carpet construction, but it's price is out of reach of most consumers. It has excellent resilience and durability, but is very expensive often twice as much per yard as nylon. Other synthetic fibers have done an excellent job of duplicating the characteristics of wool, although none can duplicate all of these characteristics. Wool cleans especially well, provides beautiful colors, and has good resiliency, but special care should be used in cleaning wool carpet. Unfortunately, wool tends to "wear down" or the pile tends to wear away. In some cases bald spots may occur as a result heavy traffic loads. Wool is naturally a staple fiber. Although it is naturally stain resistant, it requires a high level of maintenance including mothproofing. Most wool products manufactured in the U.S. have been permanently mothproofed. While it's still extremely popular for rugs, it accounts for less than 1% of the fiber used in carpet.
Since wool can hold 10 times its weight in moisture, it is susceptible to shrinking and mold and mildew growth.
This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.carpetbuyershandbook.com). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com , www.stylishrugs.com and www.americarpetcommercial.com for all your flooring needs. Americarpet sells all the flooring you read about on the article. 1a 2a

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Commercial Flooring: Functions


Commercial Flooring Shop Flooring Retail
Flooring for commercial purposes has to meet many needs – not only must it provide the correct image for the company or organization and be cost-effective; it must also fulfill the functional needs and practical requirements of day-to-day use. This can be a tall order so choosing flooring for commercial use requires careful thought and planning. Thorough consideration must be given to all functional aspects of the flooring – from the amount and type of traffic, level of wear and tear, expected longevity and even impact on health and safety, as well as any special needs – before even beginning to look at samples and choosing styles and colors.

For each different commercial sector, there will be a different aspect relating to flooring choice that they need to focus on:


Retail Sector

Many high street shops need to present an attractive interior while at the same time conveying a sense of quality and promoting their image. In fact, the look and feel of a shop can actually influence the amount of time a customer spends browsing inside the shop. They also need to keep the shop looking clean and neat, despite the constant, heavy foot traffic. Furthermore, they need to keep the safety and well-being of their customers in mind, particularly as research has shown that 50% of public accidents are caused by slipping and tripping. Lastly, they need to conform to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and ensure that there is easy transition between the exterior and interior environment. All these demands make the correct choice of flooring vitally important. One good choice is entrance matting specially designed to remove dirt and moisture at the doorway, thus preventing dirt and water being tracked all over the shop and helping to keep the interior flooring clean.


Office Sector

Offices can have similar problems at their entrances and require similar dirt- and moisture-trapping matting fitted in their entrance ways. In addition, offices need to meet and maintain a professional, corporate feel throughout their interior while still adhering to the DDA and Health and Safety rules, such as considering allergy sufferers in the staff, particularly if carpet is chosen for the floor coverings. High cleanability of flooring is also important as this maintains a healthy and inviting environment for both staff and visitors. Other things to consider are busy multi-function areas, communal spaces and transition areas like corridors and stairs. Lastly, acoustics are important in an office and the right flooring can help to maintain a calm, quiet environment more conducive to concentration. Many modern carpet tiles, specially designed for the corporate environment, are ideal choices for the office. They provide durability and retain their colors and appearance despite heavy foot traffic and regular cleaning. They are also more cost effective than wall-to-wall carpeting.


Leisure Sector
For the leisure sector, such as fitness centres, multi-function halls, crèches and other communal spaces, hygiene and durability are key criteria in the choice of flooring. Flooring design and construction needs to enable the effective removal of body fats, machine oils, general soiling and deodorization just by normal cleaning methods. They also need to be able to withstand heavy traffic and other high impact activities. The DDA requirements need to be taken into account again. And equally importantly, aesthetics need to be considered, with the flooring needing to retain its original appearance despite a constant stream of foot traffic and to have enough variety in color and styles to create imaginative and appealing environments.


Public Sector
Interiors in the public sector, such as schools, have a special need to conform to DDA requirements and also to follow Health and Safety rules. However, they too need to maintain an attractive appearance and enhance their image. Thus they need flooring which is safe to walk on, easy to clean, hygienic, long-lasting and also good to look at. Choosing a truly washable, waterproof floor covering which retains its appearance year after year is a worthwhile investment. There is now also flooring available which can trap air-borne allergens and ‘lock’ them in until released by cleaning. This can be especially useful in schools where many children can suffer from allergies, such as eczema and asthma.

Commercial flooring needs to work overtime to meet the requirements of durability, hygiene, easy maintenance and appearance retention. Therefore choosing the right type of flooring should be a careful process and not just an attempt to install the most cost-effective option.

This article was taken directly from Floor Ideas (www.floorideas.co.uk). Also, visit my websites at www.americarpetfloors.com , www.stylishrugs.com and www.americarpetcommercial.com for all your flooring needs. Americarpet sells all the flooring you read about on the article. 1a 3a