What is Carpet?
Carpet is a textile soft floor covering that is produced by the permanent orientation of fibres, synthetic or natural, into a substrate.
The surface of the carpet is referred to as the pile and may be cut or loop or a mixture of both in nature. Numerous methods of manufacture exist to achieve this end.
Various backing systems are available to stabilize the product and may be specific to the carpet's end use. Generally, carpet refers to broadloom goods, available in various manufactured widths, where installation is permanet, yet - ultimately - removable.
Rugs refer to loose laid carpet, traditionally smaller than room dimensions in size.
Carpet offers great value along with the general benefits of security, esthetic beauty, comfort underfoot and insulation factors, sound absorption and even some respiratory health advantages.
A Short History of Carpet
Carpets have been produced and used as home furnishings for thousands of years. They evolved from simple floor and entrance coverings that protected nomadic people from the cold to valuable possessions of kings and noblemen who looked upon them as signs of wealth, prestige and distinction.
In the beginning, the manufacturing processes were extremely costly in terms of the human efforts expended in harvesting fibres, spinning yarns by hand, dyeing the yarns and knotting short lengths by hand into arrays of backing yarns arranged on frames.
Woven carpets emerged early in human history also. By their nature, woven carpets are less expensive than knotted carpets. Their production called for the same fibre and yarn production effort required for knotted carpets. However, as plain weaving avoided the immensely laborious process of knotting, carpet weavers made good products at a substantially lower cost to serve a broader segment of the population.
Mechanization of spinning and weaving in Europe in the 18th century reduced the cost of woven carpets, paving the way to increased carpet consumption in Europe and North America. Hand knotted carpets and rugs continued to be produced on a limited scale to serve the luxury market.
The lowest-cost product in the spectrum of soft floor coverings was the hand-hooked rug. Hooked rugs, the ancestor of machine-tufted carpeting, could be made by consumers for their own use in spare hours from used materials without any outlay of cash.
The floor covering market in North America, from the mid-18th century to the mid-20th century, was served by three classes of soft floor covering: hand-knotted luxury products; carpets woven on power looms; and hand-hooked rugs. The traditional market persisted until fifty years ago, when it was transformed dramatically by the introduction of machine tufted carpeting.
Tufted carpeting, like the hand-hooked rugs before it, requires only a simple woven backing (originally of jute) and a supply of the 'face' yarns which form the pile. The carpet tufting machine, unfettered by the width and speed limitations of weaving looms, had greater potential in terms of productivity and value to consumers than any carpet manufacturing system used before 1950.
The new industry, supported by rapidly advancing technology, set out to produce excellent tufted carpets while simultaneously reducing their cost. Man-made fibres, of several types developed since World War II, brought cleanliness and productivity to the carpet manufacturing plants of the new industry.
In a rapidly expanding market, the spun yarns traditionally used in carpets lost ground as technology provided new advantages in the form of bulked continuous filament (BCF) yarns. Carpet manufacturing began to integrate upstream in a trend born in Canada and Belgium around 1970. Several firms in the industry in Canada now manufacture a substantial proportion of the BCF products they use to produce the pile of tufted carpeting.
While these advances were being made in materials, tufting machines were increasing from speeds in the order of 200 cycles per minute in the 1950s to 2000 cycles per minute today. Consequently, the industry has been able to achieve outstanding improvements in production economics and product performance. The results have been remarkable in the appearance, functionality and cost-effectiveness of carpet products for use in commercial and institutional buildings as well as those designed for use in our homes.