Claims file: Polyester, yes or no?

Home Columns Claims file: Polyester, yes or no?

by Lew Migliore

I’m sure there are many of you who have had a bad experience with polyester carpet, especially those of you who sold this type of product back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The onslaught of polyester in the market today may have you a little leery about being comfortable selling it. So let’s clear some things up to put you more at ease: The polyester of today is not the polyester of the ’70s’ and ’80s.

That old polyester product would go flat as a pancake because it was a bulked yarn that looked so inviting you might want to romp on it in the buff. For the same reason, it had absolutely no resiliency and once it matted down you couldn’t get it up with a lawn thatcher. It didn’t make a lot of end users happy.

Polyester today is one of the fastest growing fibers used for carpet. It is becoming more popular and nearly every carpet manufacturer has it in its product offerings. Much of it is made from recycled beverage bottles, some is virgin material and, in the case of Mohawk’s triexta, is a completely different variant.

The key to the performance of polyester is how the yarn is processed. When the yarn is tightly twisted, polyester can perform just as well as a nylon carpet. A loosely plied or twisted yarn will still have a tendency to mat and crush.

Much of the carpet made with polyester today also has a yarn with a Frieze-type twist which is like “pig tailing” the yarn. That is, there is so much twist in the yarn that it has an inherent kink in it, just like a pigs tail. And there’s a saying about Frieze style carpet: “It’s the carpet man’s carpet.” This essentially means this style is one of the highest performing residential types of carpet avail- able, especially since the yarn gives it more resiliency. The biggest complaint on polyester popular and nearly every carpet manufacturer has it in its product offerings. Much of it is made from recycled beverage bottles, some is virgin material and, in the case of Mohawk’s triexta, is a completely different variant.

The key to the performance of polyester is how the yarn is processed. When the yarn is tightly twisted, polyester can perform just as well as a nylon carpet. A loosely plied or twisted yarn will still have a tendency to mat and crush.

Much of the carpet made with polyester today also has a yarn with a Frieze-type twist which is like “pig tailing” the yarn. That is, there is so much twist in the yarn that it has an inherent kink in it, just like a pigs tail. And there’s a saying about Frieze style carpet: “It’s the carpet man’s carpet.” This essentially means this style is one of the highest performing residential types of carpet available, especially since the yarn gives it more resiliency. The biggest complaint on polyester carpet has always been from matting and crushing, so high twist levels reduce this significantly.

PolYESter

Polyester is also inherently stain resistant and color fast, so it won’t stain or fade easily. With that said, remember that dark spots are not stains: They are soil attracted to the carpet by residue of a substance introduced to the carpet. A stain will add color to carpet, like Kool Aid spilled on wool or nylon. Polyester is also less adversely affected by fading from sun, oxidizers and fume fading.

Polyester does have a greater affinity to oily soils and on lighter colors a dark traffic area may develop. This is exacerbated if there is a lot of bare foot traffic on the carpet because our skin contains oils that are transferred onto the carpet. That said, polyester can also be cleaned with stronger agents to get it clean; things that may not be as suitable for nylon.

Remember you can have very poorly performing nylon, such as light weight, loosely twisted base grade products. The cost of a carpet does not exactly correlate to its performance but, generally speaking, if you pay more you’ll get more. What you have to understand is that polyester will perform very well, as we’ve seen in comparison and performance tests, but you have got to put the right product in the right place, regardless of what it is. You can not sell just on price: You have to include performance.

If the carpet is cut pile it will always mat to some degree. That is what cut pile carpet does. If the carpet is a light color it is going to show soiling more easily and will be harder to maintain, true of any carpet type.

Polyester still isn’t nylon but it performs closer to it than ever before and you can be comfortable knowing that.

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