Residential and commercial customers want more sustainable content in their products, and manufacturers are responding with technologically advanced carpets, fibers and backing systems. The trend in residential is soft products, while in commercial, durable products in a denser construction are paving the way. Customers in both of these segments are also seeking out more texture and color.
Carpet & area rugs
At Surfaces, Beaulieu plans to launch new looks in solution-dyed polyester, called EverClean, and another Stainmaster collection.
“Polyester BCF continues to grow pretty rapidly. Along with providing growth in existing mills, it has brought along the development of new mills. There is also a greater move to solution-dyed yarns, and we’re going to continue to see more solution-dyed polyester products,” said Ralph Boe, Beaulieu of America president and ceo.
He added that “resi-mmercial” looks, which combine a commercial appearance with residential colorations, are becoming popular. Soft fibers and softer products are also still popular, especially in bedrooms.
David Duncan, Mohawk svp marketing, also noted that softness and sustainability are major trends in the residential carpet segment. The company is launching a new yarn system in its SmartStrand with DuPont Sorona polymer platform, called SmartStrand Silk. (DuPont Sorona is derived from rapidly renewable resources.)
“This new introduction of SmartStrand Silk literally revolutionizes softness,” Duncan said. “Retailers whom we have done a preview of this product with are astounded by the feel.”
Also new to the SmartStrand brand in residential is SmartStrand Ultra. “SmartStrand Ultra offers different levels of tonal looks. It features new space-dyed fleck yarns, new lcl patterns, and a very dense, tight construction that is still soft,” Duncan noted. It will also feature a specialized warranty.
In polyester BCF, Mohawk is launching new looks in its Wear-Dated Revive program, while in the commercial segment, Mohawk is focusing on its SmartStrand Contract line. “We’re positioning SmartStrand Contract as a sustainable innovation,” said Kent Clauson, vp brand management. “Along with its rapidly renewable content, it resists staining and offers high-performing color retention.”
Sustainable content remains a major trend in commercial products, according to Eric Nelson, InterfaceFLOR vp strategic alliances. “As an overall philosophy for all of our materials, we want to decouple ourselves from petroleum. We’ve made some pretty good progress using recycled and/or bio-based materials.”
“There are some products out there that are corn-derived, some that are sugar-derived, and castor beans are something that has also been getting into fibers,” Nelson noted. He said the long-term durability of these materials for the commercial market remains unproven, and it will take “the next few years to innovate some of these materials so they are suitable for our commercial carpet where they will have to withstand a lot of wear and tear.”
Two of the company’s product platforms speak to InterfaceFLOR’s goal of moving toward more sustainable products. Convert is a collection of products that featured recycled content. Additionally, Entropy is a carpet tile line where no two tiles are the same. Because the tiles do not have to be directional, it helps limit waste in the manufacturing process, according to Nelson.
She said commercial clients are moving away from flat patterns to more lively looks in modular carpet. “People really want to embrace texture and color.” She points to the company’s Elemental Spectrum, which features designs based on sound wave frequencies, as offering unique aesthetics. Additionally, the Equinox collection features proprietary ultra-large denier fiber for a heavier, bulkier texture, she noted.
Jack Ganley, Mannington Commercial president, said he is seeing denser, tighter construction in commercial products. “That is the result of newer tufting technology that allows us to go in lower the pile heights, profiles and face weights,” he explained.
Valerie Ottaviano, Bentley Prince Street vp product design, noted that the lower face weights can also lead to lower material costs. “The money is in the nylon, and in the face weight,” she explained. “If you can have a sumptuous floor at 26 oz. instead of 30 or 32 oz., you can save that material without giving up performance.”
Bentley Prince Street is also looking at new technology in its area rug program. “We now offer our entire running line and custom piece-dyed products with ADA-compliant rubber reducer borders in more than 200 colors with a highly sustainable non-slip backing,” noted Clint Schramm, vp marketing. The area rugs with these rubber borders can be sized up to 18’ wide with virtually unlimited length, he added.
Fiber, cushion & backing
Invista is ready to unveil two new nylon 6,6 fiber products: SolarMax and TruSoft, and plans to launch new Stainmaster styles based on these technologies.
SolarMax featured color integrated within the polymer for solid color throughout. “SolarMax has a very soft feel to it and the ability to hold its color in sunlight. It has very limited fading characteristics,” said Gary Johnston, Invista sr. marketing mgr.
TruSoft fiber features an extremely soft hand with exceptional texture retention and durability against foot traffic, Johnston added. “It’s the soft world and the tough world wrapped together.”
“Most of the post-consumer material is carpet coming from the United States. The second largest source of material is fishing nets, being sourced out of Scandinavia. There are also fabrics and other materials coming from the Far East. They are all collected and go through a de-polymerization process. The final result is a plastic material that is totally indistinguishable from a product that comes from oil,” Rossi noted.
Universal Fibers recently unveiled refreshfiber, a solution-dyed, 600 denier nylon product featuring both post-consumer and post-industrial content. “There is an initiative at Universal Fibers for our post-consumer content to come from recycled and reclaimed carpets,” explained Joe Parry, global brand and marketing dir. “We want to close the circle and reduce the amount of products going to U.S. landfills.”
Tim Blount, Zeftron Nylon business unit leader, said specifiers have become careful in the products they choose. “They want to make sure they specify a product that is proven and reliable and that will perform at levels that meet the end-user’s expectations. They are also looking for added value, such as greater or enhanced service or warranties.”
“Carpet cushion technology has significantly increased over the past decade, and the industry now provides a wide range of products that address not only general needs, but highly specialized and unique installation and performance requirements,” he said.
Healthier Choice cushions feature technologies including MoistureBloc moisture barrier and Ultra-Fresh Antimicrobial protection. Additionally, Healthier Choice residential and commercial cushions carry both GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality and GREENGUARD Children and Schools Certified.
Randy Dye, Leggett & Platt’s product mgr., carpet cushion div., said in this economic climate it is vital for retailers to trade their customers up to long-lasting premium products including carpet cushion.
“We have some fantastic premium products for comfort, durability and performance levels,” he noted. “These are the types of products that offer the greatest value to consumers in the long run.”
“A good cushion is essential for either residential or commercial settings,” Dye added. “It can help you feel more productive in the office and less weary at home.”
Universal Textile Technologies recently announced that its backing systems have been verified by NSF International as NSF/ANSI 140 compliant-ready. This is in addition to a similar verification by UL Environments.
According to Doug Giles, dir. marketing, this means that carpet companies choosing the company’s backings will be able to expedite NSF/ANSI 140 certification.
He is also proud of the company’s efforts to “partner with industries to put Americans back to work.” This includes a partnership with Yellowstone National Park to collect plastic bottles and convert them into material used to manufacture the company’s BioCel and EnviroCel cushion. A Yellowstone carpet collection has also been launched by Signature Crypton Carpet, featuring five styles with Econyl nylon and BioCel backing.
Additionally, a wide range of residential and commercial carpet manufacturers offer their own technologically advanced backings. The Mohawk Group recently launched EcoFlex NXT, a PVC-free backing available on running line products and special orders.
While it would be difficult to name all of the options available, other products include Beaulieu’s Nexterra for both residential and commercial carpet; Mannington Commercial’s Integra HP RE for broadloom, and the company’s rEvolve, a vinyl alterative backing for modular carpet. Additionally, Shaw Contract Group offers EcoWorx, a PVC-free backing for its modular carpet products.