Watch Your Back(ing)

Jan. 7, 2002
What’s underneath your carpet affects what’s on top
By Mark WilliamsNo matter what type of industry you’re in, there’s one aspect of your floor that plays a big part in making your building all it can be: your carpet backing. While it remains unseen, carpet backing can mean the difference between a carpet that endures and one that falls apart at the seams, among other places.For those less versed in backing knowledge, let’s start with a definition. Carpet backing is the fabric that provides the platform for tufting and stability, as opposed to the carpet pile or face.With tufted carpets, there are typically two backings. The first is a primary backing into which the pile yarn is inserted. The second is – you guessed it – a secondary backing made of fabric that’s laminated or sewn to the back of the carpet for reinforcement and dimensional stability.Today’s backings come with a variety of advancements and features that can enhance the performance of your carpet as well. Advanced primary backings come in various styles, each one to suit a different need. For instance, a good basic primary should offer strength, moisture and mildew resistance, easy handling, and durability.Stepping up the scale, other primaries offer the same attributes as the basic primary, but add features to help with pattern straightness.For example, a straight pick weave helps with pattern straightness in the tufting process. A visual guideline helps manufacturers monitor fabric straightness in the manufacturing process. (And, while you might not think that applies to you, the buyer, it will affect how the pattern will look on your floor in the long run.)Primaries that combine a woven and a non-woven backing into one give you both versatility and dimensional stability for patterns. These are particularly important for corporate and other segments in which detailed carpet patterns are the norm. Still other primaries offer an extra layer of fabric to add bulk.A backing with a moisture barrier will help hold fluid spills on the surface of the carpet so that they won’t seep through and cause mildew and sub-floor damage. For healthcare and educational facilities, this is a must. But it’s a good investment for any building, especially in eating areas.If you add a quality cushion to your backing you will help ease the impact of high foot traffic and make it easier on tired legs – a big advantage for shoppers and the retail companies who want them to stay in their stores as long as possible.But you can’t just leave it up to the quality of your backing. Proper maintenance is a big issue, too. If you vacuum daily, remove spots and spills as quickly as possible using spotting extractors, and deep clean each month using hot water extraction, you’ll improve the chances that both your carpet and your carpet backing will perform the way they’re supposed to.Choose your backings to meet your needs and look for the features that will best suit your building. In the end, the extra effort will save you money, time, and trouble.Mark Williams is manager of sales and marketing at Dalton, GA-based BP Carpet Backings (

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations