When most people look for the perfect carpet, they tend to focus on what will be seen. But what lies underneath your carpets is just as important. Carpet backing gives a carpet strength, durability, and protection from warping. And the best backing adds softness and insulation.
The next time you buy a carpet, spare a thought or two for what lies beneath. There are many different types of carpet backing, and each manufacturer has its own technology. To help you in your search, we’ve put together some useful information — along with details of the backing being offered by some of America’s biggest suppliers.
What Are the Different Types of Carpet Backing?
Take a look at a sample of carpet. Look on the underside, and you’ll see an extra layer of padding. This is the carpet backing, and it’s what gives a carpet its stability, softness, and noise-reduction properties.
But there is more than one type on the market today. And each of them has its own unique set of qualities. There are currently four different types of backing, although the main manufacturers have developed their own technologies over the years.
Polyurethane Carpet Backing
Polyurethane is the most common material currently used in the production of backing. It’s relatively cheap, but it’s also durable and strong. And it has the added benefit of offering protection from moisture. Unfortunately, this synthetic material is a little on the coarse side, so it can scratch floorboards and baseboards.
Spillages and little accidents can permanently damage less robust materials.
Jute Carpet Backing
Jute carpet backing is relatively expensive, so its use is usually restricted to premium floor coverings. Made from plant fibers, jute is known for being a particularly durable material. But it also possesses a softness for which many people are willing to pay a premium.
You’ll usually pay a significant premium for a carpet with jute backing. But is the added expense really worth it? While it’s highly durable, strong, and soft, jute it’s a relatively scarce material. And for a much lower price, you can get backing that’s just as soft and almost as resilient. Unless you hope to own your carpet for 20 years, consider some of the cheaper alternatives.
Soft Plastic Backing
Soft plastic is very soft, and it can be produced relatively cheaply. If you want a soft, luxurious carpet on a budget, this is a great option. But beware, this type of backing can stretch quite a lot when it gets wet — leading to rippling and warping.
Moisture Barrier Backing
Made with urethane or solid vinyl, moisture barrier backing is designed to stop spills and splashes from getting to the floor underneath. However, they have the unwanted ability to trap moisture, and this can spell disaster for wooden floorboards and concrete. And because liquids (including pet urine) aren’t absorbed, they tend to spread out — creating a bigger damp patch.
Fortunately, there are quite a few patented backing systems that prevent moisture from getting through. The latest systems do so while allowing air to flow.
What Are the Benefits of Quality Carpet Backing?
Without it, your floors will be hard, noisy, and susceptible to premature wear and tear.
If you’re concerned about the noise caused by footsteps in your home, choose a carpet with a thick backing. Jute, polyurethane and foam-based backings deliver the best results.
Heat-loss is a real problem in homes. Not only does it increase our household energy bills, it’s also bad for the environment. And as a significant proportion of heat is lost through floors, it makes perfect sense to insulate them.
A thick, high-quality carpet backing stops heat from escaping. This could save you an enormous amount of energy if you have wooden floorboards.
Who doesn’t like to lie down on a sumptuously soft carpet — preferably in front of a roaring fire? Luxury backing made with polyurethane or jute can give a carpet extra bounce and softness.
All carpets are subjected to wear and tear over time. How they stand up to continual punishment often depends on the quality of the backing. Quality materials put together with expertise keep a carpet from warping and rippling. They also prevent movement, which can cause the premature wearing of carpet fibers.
The Two Main Components of Carpet Backing
Most backing is comprised of two very distinctive layers. The primary layer is a coarse material that holds the interwoven or looped fibers in place. A second layer provides the support needed — stopping the visible layer of carpet from moving too much underfoot. This secondary layer usually delivers insulation and waterproofing as well.
Choose Carpet Backing That’s Right for Your Home
At Express Flooring, we are passionate about giving our customers carpet that’s right for their homes. We understand that the way people use their carpets differs from home to home, which is why we source all our products from renowned and trustworthy suppliers.
Whether you choose your carpet from Shaw, Mohawk, or Dreamweaver, you need to know that the carpet backing you’re getting is right for space.
Do you have small children? Do you own pets? Do you have lots of guests in your home? Are certain rooms subjected to more foot traffic than others? These are all questions our carpet specialists will ask when they visit you in your home. We offer a free, no-obligation home visit. We assess the specific needs of the home and its occupants, and we make recommendations based on many years of experience.
We work with some of America’s best-known carpet manufacturers. Each of them has its own approach to carpet backing. In fact, some of them have developed their own patented technologies. To help you make the right choice, we’ve listed some of the benefits associated with each manufacturer’s carpet backing.
Shaw Floors is a highly respected carpet manufacturer and supplier. This very popular brand has developed a range of exciting technologies over the years, all aimed at giving homeowners value for money and peace of mind.
SoftBac Platinum Carpet Backing
Shaw Floors is continually researching and developing new carpet backing systems. One of the companies most effective is SoftBac, which offers a range of impressive benefits.
This patented technology includes a no-wrinkle guarantee. If your Shaw carpet wrinkles within the warranty period, they’ll replace it for free. SoftBac also offers added softness, greater adhesive strength, and significant resistance to seam peaking.
Rooms with high foot traffic levels aren’t always kind on carpets. Over time, the backing can fail, and wrinkles form as a result. This problem is exacerbated by the presence of moisture, or by lots of spills. So if you have a busy home, very young children, or precocious pets, the SoftBac system is ideal.
If your home is prone to spills, floods, and splashes, Shaw’s Lifeguard system could be the answer. Pet-proof, anti-odor and very easy to clean, LifeGuard Spill-Proof Backing provides essential protection from everyday mishaps.
Mohawk is another of the respected American manufacturers we deal with. The company has developed several technologies aimed at improving the lifespan of its carpets. But one of the most effective is the Air.O system.
Air.O is a hypoallergenic soft flooring system that’s soft and very easy to clean. The fibers are designed in a way that minimizes moisture absorption. This ensures allergens, mold, and microbes are kept to a minimum. And if you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, you’ll know how important these capabilities are.
Mohawk has developed two very effective backing technologies of its own. Their Optiback system is around five times thicker than the average carpet backing. This delivers greater flexibility and strength. Optiback is also one of the softest backing solutions on the market, meaning damage to baseboards during installation is almost impossible.
ExoFlex carpet backing is a sustainable, PVC-free product that’s lighter and cheaper than traditional backing. It’s made with sustainable materials and recycled content, and it’s impervious to moisture.
One of the most impressive carpet backing systems we deal with every day is the PureBac system from Dream Weaver. This premium technology is part of the PureColor Fiber system, which offers premium quality and extra durability.
The PureBac system keeps PureColor carpets from Dream Weaver neat, tidy, and free from wrinkles But it delivers all these incredible benefits while allowing the carpet to remain flexible. It comes with a 10-year delamination warrant. And if all that’s not impressive enough, the system does not require the use of latex. This means that carpets made with PureBac backing are lighter, cheaper, and kinder to the environment.
Other Types of Backing to Look Out For
All of America’s most respected carpet manufacturers take their own approach to the backing. Some have developed systems of their own, while others have adopted tried-and-tested systems that have been delivered results for years.
Here are a few of the most effective backing systems available today.
A great, all-round performer is FusionBac. This premium backing is made to last, but it’s also very soft. It’s made with a combination of woven, polypropylene material and a layer of fleece. This guarantees stability and strength. But perhaps the biggest benefit delivered by FusionBac is insulation. You’ll struggle to find better sound and heat insulation in a carpet.
If you’re concerned about the effect manufacturing processes are having on the environment, there’s a green version of the system. Eco FusionBac delivers all the same benefits as the standard system. But this environmentally-friendly version is made with fully recycled PET plastic bottles.
If you’re looking for all the great, natural properties of jute without the price-tag, look no further than Action Back. This strong and stable fabric is completely synthetic, but it’s designed to look, feel, and act life natural jute. This is a very flexible backing fabric, so it’s perfect for carpets designed to be stretched during the fitting process.
Comfortex Plus Feltbac
If you want a soft, comforting carpet for a low price, look for something with Comfortex Plus Feltbac backing. This is a dense fabric that is made with thick, entangled strands of synthetic fibers. It’s soft, thick and sturdy. Choose a carpet with this type of backing, and you may not need any underlayment to go with it.
How to Choose the Best Carpet Backing for Your Home
Choosing a carpet with robust, soft, and flexible backing can be daunting. That’s why we’ve compiled a few useful resources for you:
- Carpet backing materials
- Benefits of jute
- Common types of carpet backing
- Different carpet types
- How to stretch the carpet
- Choosing the best carpet for your home
In many ways, the backing on a carpet is every bit as important as the fibers or the weave. Inferior carpet backing can lead to premature wear and tear, as well as wrinkles and movement. While choosing a carpet with inferior backing might save you some money today, you could end up paying the price down the line.
As you can see, there are many different manufacturers using many different types of backing. Which of them you choose depends on issues such as traffic, the floors underneath, and how you use the space.
For example, if you have concrete floors, a water-resistant solution might be counterproductive. These systems are designed to be a barrier to moisture. But this works both ways. If moisture develops underneath the carpet, mold, bacteria, and bad odors can develop. And when moisture can go through the carpet, it spreads — causing damage and staining.
If you expect a lot of foot traffic in a room, a backing system that prevents premature wrinkling and warping might be the best option. Something like Shaw’s SoftBac backing can protect against regular punishment and overuse.
We’ve only dealt with just a few of the many backing systems on the market today. There are many more, and each of them has its own unique set of benefits. To help you choose the system that’s right for your home — and how you use it — call the experts at Express Flooring.
We’ll visit you at your home to assess your exact requirements. Most importantly, we’ll give you options. And once you’ve decided on a carpet that’s right for space, we’ll arrange everything — from ordering to fitting.