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Why Carpet Fiber Face Weight is Less Important Than You Think

Posted on Jan 15, 2016, by Michael Eckert

When choosing carpet for your organization, appearance retention and carpet durability are likely to be your top priorities. You want to be sure that the carpet you choose now will meet your organization’s needs for years into the future.

Many people assume that fiber face weight plays a huge role in determining carpet durability – but in reality that isn’t the case. Fiber face weight only plays a very minor role, with other factors having a much greater impact on the longevity of your carpet.

Free Tip Sheet: 25 Questions to Ask Your Carpet Tile Manufacturer

The Myth of Fiber Face Weight

Face weight is the actual weight of the fiber used to manufacture the carpet tile. Pile height (the thickness of the carpet from the backing to the surface) is one of the factors that determines the face weight of your carpet.

As a general rule, the shorter the carpet pile (and the lower the face weight), the more durable it is – as it’s less likely the yarn will crush and show signs of wear due to foot traffic. As long as high pile, high face weight products aren’t installed in extreme conditions, face weight has a relatively small impact on carpet tile durability.

Some carpet manufacturers go as far as to recommend specific carpet face weights for specific installs, but this greatly over-exaggerates the importance of face weight in determining carpet durability. Other factors play a much bigger role in the longevity of your carpet.

4 Factors That Matter More Than Fiber Face Weight

1) Carpet Tile Backing

Carpet tile backing is the single most important factor in determining the durability of your carpet tiles. In hard-backed tiles, the carpet fibers directly absorb the impact of foot traffic, which causes damage to the fibers and its appearance to deteriorate. Cushion backing helps to absorb some of the impact of foot traffic, protecting fibers from wear, and helps carpet to last 40-50% longer than hard-backed products.

In particular, open cell cushion backing offers better protection than closed cell cushioning, as over time closed cell cushioning gets compressed by continued foot traffic, whereas open cell ‘re-inflates’ after compression.

2) Design and Color

Design and color also play an important role in helping your carpet to last longer. A dark-colored or patterned carpet will be much better at hiding coffee spills and other stains than a plain, light-colored carpet. In large organizations especially, it’s impossible for your custodial staff to clean up all spills as soon as they happen, so it’s essential that you choose carpet tiles that will hide stains.

When choosing carpet for your organization, remember to think about how it will look in ten years’ time, as well as just after it’s been installed.

3) Fiber Type

Most manufacturers offer two types of nylon fiber – nylon 6 and nylon 6,6. Nylon 6,6 tends to be more durable than nylon 6 due to its chemical makeup, so for durability you would want to look for a carpet with nylon 6,6 fiber. It is harder to recycle than nylon 6, but can be repurposed at end of life instead.

Additionally, carpet fibers can be processed to improve their dimensional stability, by twisting the fibers into a more resilient shape, and heat setting the fiber. And the denser your carpet pile (i.e. the closer it is packed together), the longer it will last because there are more carpet tufts to wear away.

4) Soil and Stain Protection

Most manufacturers offer carpet tiles with some sort of stain protection (like Milliken’s StainSmart), meaning that the carpet is treated to repel dirt and make it easier to clean. Combined with wise color and patterning choices, soil and stain protection can help to extend the life of your carpet tiles – though design choices have the bigger impact on your carpet durability.

Learn more about the factors that affect carpet durability, and download our whitepaper below.

how to choose carpet tiles that last [free whitepaper]

Topics: Performance

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert