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Does The Carpet Backing Make A Difference?

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I want to briefly discuss carpet backings. I often have people come into the store and they seem particularly fixated on the carpet backings. Those people often say to me that you can tell the quality of a carpet by the backing. But the question is, is that true? Can you really tell a carpet quality by the feel and weave of the backing? That is the question I am going to discuss during this post.

The first thing I want to do is to give a brief understanding of the two types of carpet backings.

The first is what is called the primary backing. That is what the carpet is tufted to during the manufacturing process. Primary backing looks like trampoline material. A carpet tufting machine looks like a big sewing machine and the needles have to punch through something which is the primary back.

A second backing is then adhered (glued) to the primary backing to give the carpet strength and stability.

That is the backing we are going to discuss—the secondary backing. That is the backing you see when you look at a carpet sample.

Most backings today are made of a woven polypropylene, such as Propex’s Action Bac® .  That is the backing that you will see on probably 90% of the carpets you look at.

Some of the more popular residential carpet backings are listed below:

  • KangaBack®, a trademark of Textile Rubber & Chemical, is an attached urethane cushion product for residential use.
  • Moisture barrier backings: Most moisture barrier backings are solid vinyl or urethane. Their purpose is to keep water-based spills from penetrating through the carpet, affecting both the carpet and the surface under the carpet. However, they can also have the disadvantage of trapping any moisture trapped under them from evaporating. This can be especially damaging to the concrete itself and to the glue if the carpet is glued down. It can lead to failure of the carpet installation. Also, because the pad does not absorb a spill, or pet urine, the material tends to spread outward more, making wicking over a larger area more likely.
  • Polypropylene: This is the backing used on most carpets today. It is strong, dimensionally stable and lasts virtually forever. The drawback to this type backing is it is very rough and can damage baseboards.
  • SoftBac® is a registered trademark of Shaw Industries. It is a woven/non-woven combination backing system that eliminates the harsh surface of the backing that can scuff up walls and banisters. Additionally, it results in a carpet that is more flexible and lighter.
  • Luxurybac® carpet backing made by Beaulieu of America for their Bliss line. It is a soft back similar to Shaw Industries backing only heavier.*
  • HighPic Backing: Some of the higher end manufacturers use a Polypropylene backing that is tighter woven with the backing “cells” closer together. It give the backing a sturdier, nicer look.

As you can see by the list above there are many types of backs—and that is only a partial listing.

Upper end backings just feel better in hand. They make the carpet sample heavier and the carpet feels softer. That is especially true for SoftBac® by Shaw and Luxurybac® by Bealieu. Those backings are heavy and nice. There is a perceived value to the consumer and that allows those manufacturers to charge more for the carpets that have those backings.

So often the backing is more of a marketing element than a quality element. The nicer backings allow the manufacturer to charge more money and make more money.

To summarize, I would look at the backing more as a sign of how the manufacturer feels about that carpet—where the carpet fits into their product line. A more expensive backing is simply a signal that the carpet is part of their upper end offerings.

A cheaper, thinner backing is a sign that they are trying to save money and keep their costs down (but you can also probably tell that by feeling the carpet itself). It’s self-explanatory that cheap backing on cheap carpet is at the bottom of their product offerings.

A regular normal “action” back or polypropelnene backing is what graces most carpet made. It really doesn’t tell you anything about the carpet. That type of backing will hold up just fine and if properly installed with be just fine for the life of the carpet.

So does better carpet backing make better carpet? The simple answer is probably not. As long as the backing is probably adhered to the primary backing and doesn’t have any loose spots any backing is probably just fine.

Five new rolls of carpet just received

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Photo of the carpet in a room setting

A photo of one of the styles of carpet we just received


We just received five new rolls of carpet yesterday and they are on the sales floor and ready to view today.  Four of the five rolls are nylon and really nice. This is a photo of one of the styles. The color we have this style is darker than the picture shown.

Come in and check out our selection. We are receiving more rolls almost every day!

So You’ve Decided To Put In A New Wood Floor!

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 You have decided to upgrade your home and would now like a new hardwood floor. There are several things you need to think about as you make your decision.

 There are basically four different kinds of places where you can shop for hardwood flooring.

  • ·         Hardwood specialty store
  • ·         Flooring installer who has hardwood samples
  • ·         Flooring specialty store
  • ·         Box Store or Mass Merchant

 Let me review briefly what each of these specializes in and the pros and cons of each.

 Hardwood Specialty Store. This is a retail store that sells and installs the hardwood. Usually small and off the beaten path. Often the owner is the installer and his wife or children run the store.

Pros: The strength of the hardwood specialty store is hardwood is typically all they do. Sometimes they sell other hard-surface floors like laminates but mostly hardwood.

Cons: The drawback is that they tend to focus on unfinished wood that they sand and finish in your home. Sanding a floor at home often makes a mess—spreading dust throughout the home that you can never fully get cleaned.

Flooring Installer. This is an installer who works from his home and has samples that he will bring to your home.

Pros: The plus to this type operation is that it’s usually a one man operation. This person is typically very knowledgeable.

Cons: On the downside, since this is often a one person operation, there is no other option if something comes up. If they run behind on a job there is no one to start your job. If he’s hurt or someone in his family is sick you have to wait for him.

The other con is similar to the hardwood specialty store. These one-man operations tend to want to sell everyone a sand and finish floor. These floors are site-finished in your home. There is also the issue of the dust from sanding.

Flooring Specialty Store. This is a retail flooring store that has a flooring department.

Pros: This type operation has will typically focus on prefinished wood floors.

Cons: The downside to this type store is that while it will be easy to find help they probably won’t be quite as knowledgeable in wood floors as a hardwood specialty store.

Box Store or Mass Merchant. This is a place like Home Depot or Lowes.

Pros: Big selection

Cons: The drawback is getting help. And if you are lucky enough to find someone they typically have very little specific knowledge about flooring.

Here at Taylor Carpets we fall into the Flooring Specialty Store category. We focus on prefinished wood floors. The primary reason is that prefinished or factory finished floors are far superior to sand and finish or site finished floors. The prefinished floors are often done in layers—like plywood—rather than solid wood. The layers give the wood more stability than solid wood floors. There is less movement with the wood.

But the most important difference between prefinished and site finished floors is the finish itself. A factory finish floor has the finish professionally applied and then run through an oven where it is baked on. Often there are multiple step and coats to the finish. The manufacturer is also able to include the mineral aluminum oxide into the finish which greatly enhances the strength and durability of the finish. There is just no way that these processes can be done at home.

A final story about hardwood finishes. When I built my home in the mid 90’s I put in a prefinished hardwood maple floor. My neighbor two doors away worked for a large interior design company. He also did a maple floor but he did a ‘sand and finish floor’ (or a site-finished floor). After his floor was installed I went and looked at it. It looked amazing!

About three years later he moved and put his home up for sale. I had a chance to go in and take another look at the floor. I couldn’t believe the condition of the floor. Whereas my floor still looked almost brand new, his floor had all kinds of problems. Gaps had developed between many of the boards. The finish was fractured in many places because of the gaps. And in the heavy wear areas the surface was in desperate need of refinishing.

In conclusion, while each type of flooring outlet has its strengths and weaknesses, your best course is to find someone who is knowledgeable and will treat your job as if it’s the most important job there is!

A dirty little secret about polyester carpet

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You have been out shopping for carpet and have run into two carpet fibers: nylon and polyester.

You feel both of the carpets and “poly” carpet just feels better. It is thicker and more luxurious. And you certainly get more carpet for the money. So naturally you are skeptical and you ask the sales person about it. He (or she) assures you that the carpet will wear just fine.

So you ask, “what about staining”. He proudly shows you the back of the sample and the “Lifetime” stain warranty that comes with this carpet. You are sold! There is no way this carpet won’t be perfect for your room. Let’s take care of the paper work and schedule the installation.

There’s just one problem. You haven’t asked the right question and the salesperson isn’t going to volunteer that information—if they even know it.

So here’s the dirty little secret. There is a difference between staining and soiling. In your mind, you asked the correct question—“what about staining”.

What you really want to know by asking that question is “how is my carpet going to look in five years?” Is it going to be clean? Is it going to show dirty wear patterns. And so the question that you thought to ask was the stain question.

But that wasn’t the correct question because there is a difference between staining and soiling. Polyester is very “stain” resistant. They make it from recycled plastics. Have you ever seen the inside of a pop bottle stain?

The real question is soiling and polyester isn’t very good at that. Ask most carpet cleaners. When they try to clean soil patterns out of polyester they can never really make them look new again. You see traffic patterns much quicker in a polyester carpet than you would in a comparable nylon carpet. The soiling combined with matting is more apparent and develops quicker.

There are many good things about polyester carpet. It is soft, luxurious, and stain resistant. But it isn’t resistant to soiling and traffic patterns. So if you have a high traffic area—especially one that comes in from outside—you may want to consider nylon carpet.

8 Tips to prepare for your carpet installation

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I found this article on the Carpet and Rug Institute blog on preparing for your carpet installation. I thought it was really helpful. I hope you enjoy it!

Carpet Question Corner – Carpet Q and A – 18th in a series
“What Preparations Do I Need to Make To Have Carpet Installed?” is the eighteenth in a series of banner ads developed to run on the flooring news website

Make sure that you know what services your installer will provide and what you need to handle yourself. For example, there may be an additional charge to move your furniture. Keep these things in mind before hiring an installer.

Here are things you’ll want to do:

Remove all breakable items from areas being carpeted and detach and store wiring from TVs, stereos, VCR/DVD and computers.
Determine who will remove and dispose of the existing carpet and cushion.
Check recycling options in your area.
Think about carpet placement.
Ask that seams be placed in less visible areas, but don’t expect seams to be invisible.
Before installers arrive, complete other remodeling projects you have planned in the room, such as painting and wallpapering.
Vacuum the old carpet to avoid the possibility of airborne dust and dirt.
And after the carpet and cushion is removed, vacuum the subfloor.