It may seem like an unusual bit of information but I actually know how carpet is made.
It is not the kind of thing that comes at a dinner parties often but when it does, I can make a couple of points that no one else has ever considered. Because let’s face it, how often do you sit around an ponder how carpet is manufactured? Not very…
So lets start with a basic distinction. I am talking about manmade fiber carpet like nylon or polyester or some polymer based material. The same material may be used to make rugs as well.
And nylon, polyesters and the like are polymers – plastics. these plastics are made from mixing chemicals together in a reactor, they form a bond and react and out comes a wet molten polymer resin. All of this can be pretty dangerous as it is usually under high temperatures and high pressures and molten resin can cause a lot of damage if it gets on a person.
The resin is then run through a piece of equipment called an extruder which is kind of like a tube with a screw in it and the screw pushes the molten lava (did I say lava?) ,I mean resin, through a bunch of very fine holes in a spinneret plate. The resin is now in the form of fibers and they cool quickly are can now be turned into carpet.
This fiber is very fine, similar to the synthetic hair in a Halloween wig.
But if you look very closely (like under a microscope) you will see that each fiber actually has a cross-section that is unique. Some are round. Some are tri-lobal (they have 3 ends sticking off). Each cross-section has pros and cons which are beyond the scope of this article. Let’s just say that I bet you didn’t know the word tri-lobal before you started reading this article…
These carpet fibers go on for miles and miles and are eventually treated in a series of steps and twisted and tufted into the lovely carpet that is used in commercial and residential applications.
Like a Labra-doodle or a Yorkie-Poo or a Shiatsu-shepherd, rugs are becoming more and more complicated.
Remember when every rug in the house was one of those multicolored woven deals that never changed. You could beat it, wash it in the washing machine or just plain old abuse it and it always looked the same.
My grandmother had those rugs for my entire life.
Well things have changed quite a bit. Just like everything else…
They don’t make ’em like they used to…
There are still a few main categories of rugs like:
- Handmade, ie. Hand-tufted, hand-hooked and hand-loomed. You guessed it. these rugs were made by hand. Instead of a machine. Given the time and skill required, these are likely to cost more than the industrially produced version. Hand-knotted is the highest quality rug while hand-hooked is the lowest quality. I can remember making hooked rugs as a little kid. Not much skill there. Just follow the pattern and repeat the hand movements. But a really nice hand-knotted rug may be passed down for generations and become quite a desired heirloom.
- Woven or Braided Rugs. These are the ones that my grandmother and great-aunts had around the house. They had a blend of colors like the gold and orange of the 70s. Or maybe the burgundy and blue. Or maybe a green and orange. You know the ones. They were tough and durable and never changed. The dog laid on them and the shoes were wiped on them and they took it and kept on smiling.
- Flatweave Rugs. these rugs are made on a loom and include familiar types like tapestry rugs and needlepoint rugs. They can have quite intricate designs and they do not have fluffy pile like the next rug type.
- Tufted Pile Rugs. They have tufts of material or yarn that stick up and give a fluffy appearance. They can vary from expensive to very cheap. Skip the hand-tufted like we mentioned above. These are usually pretty cheap.
Sometimes they name a rug according to wear it is likely to live when you bring it home from the store like:
- Area. An area rug is used to cover an area of a room or space. They come in all sizes from small to large and in all types, colors and patterns. You can get a $10 pink area rug shaped like a hippopotamus or a $10,000 oriental area rug.
- Kitchen. These are most likely used in the kitchen or comfort while standing or to catch crumbs or drips under the table or in front of the sink of food prep area.
- Bath. Who doesn’t love a good bathroom mat or rug. The right one can be so soft and plush that you want to snuggle up on it and take a nap. Others focus on water-absorption or non-slip features.
- Indoor/Outdoor Rugs. These are usually pretty durable to handle weather and foot traffic, even pet traffic. Beat them against the fence for a quick cleaning, vacuum them or even hose them down.
And sometimes they are named for their shape…
- Square. These are great to separate a space in the large room. You can create a separate feel just by using a unique rug to break up the space.
- Rectangle. These are great for sofas and rectangular rooms.
- Circle or Round. These are often used under round dining room tables.
- Runner. This is only one that really deserves any explanation. It is long perhaps for an entryway, hallway or typical footpath.
Rugs add color and pop to a room. They can change the décor from traditional to jungle fever in just a matter of minutes.
They can add comfort and warmth.
So whatever the reason you are looking for a rug, pick one that goes with your sense of style and budget and enjoy.
Our flooring is bombarded daily with bacteria, dirt, shoes, bags, and almost everything that enters our home. Some surfaces immediately show the dirt and grime or the damage from harsh treatment. But our carpets and rugs don’t. They absorb and disguise the dirt and grit. Many colors even hide it and make it almost invisible. But just because we can’t easily see it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t damaging our carpets and rugs and maybe even our health.
There are some critical steps that you can take to protect your carpet, home and health.
1. Placemats. Keep a placemat outside and inside of the heavily trafficked entryways in your home. Use the outside mat to scrap dirt and soil from shoes before tracking it into your home. Use the inside mat as a resting place for you shoes.
2. No Shoes. Avoid wearing shoes on the carpet or rugs. Because the plush carpet is so absorbent, dirt, pollution and grime can get trapped in the carpet. It is almost impossible to detect but it is there. Remember that gross bathroom that you had to use in the gas station, think about the floor. Would you want to lie down on that and watch a movie with the kids this evening. Then don’t wear those shoes on the carpet!
3. Replace carpets. Replace carpet when it shows too much wear and tear. Nothing improves the look of a home quicker and more cost effectively than a fresh coat of paint and new carpet. Dated flooring is almost impossible to overcome.
4. Clean Carpets Regularly. Have carpets cleaned by reputable carpet cleaners with solid references and experience. Avoid the carpet cleaners who use heavy soapy detergents. Go with organic or green carpet cleaners who use hot water extraction methods which leaves zero residue.