By Ken Ryan
While residential carpet share continues to shrink, the areas where soft surface still flourishes—bedrooms, primarily—have seen an influx in more expensive goods filling the space.
That was evident at Surfaces last month as carpet mills big and small showed the results of their R&D efforts: ultra-soft products, vibrant colors and textures and looks that in some cases resembled hard surfaces. That’s no accident as mill executives increasingly look to complement their soft products with hard surfaces.
“It doesn’t matter what you select in hard surface these days—there will be something in soft surface to match it,” said Brittany Stanley, senior design manager, residential product development for Mohawk.
At Surfaces, mills pushed the color boundaries more than ever and showcased intricate patterns and textures to appeal to the consumer looking for better goods. Presented here are four trends that stood out.
(Editor’s note: Look for additional carpet coverage from Surfaces in future issues of FCNews.)
A few years back, the term “soft enough” was being bandied about as some mills gave up on their pursuit of soft luxury, deeming it incompatible with durability. That is no longer the case as softer plus durable prevails. Consider face weight—arguably the most common specification to determine a carpet’s durability and certainly one of the leading indicators of overall quality. The average face weight for a residential carpet product is about 35 to 60 ounces. Higher amounts equal plusher carpets.
Marquis Industries impressed at Surfaces with Simply Awesome, a 100-ounce ultra-soft carpet that drew interest for its super soft touch. “It’s our highest-end product,” said Chet Graham, president of Marquis Industries. “We’ve received great response at the show. We see our growth at the upper end and that’s where we’ll continue to make our investments.”
Color my world
Comparing today’s carpet with the carpet of a decade ago is a little like comparing television in the 1970s to today’s ultra HD and LED displays: in other words, like night and day. To that end, color was clearly trending at Surfaces, and no one pushed that harder than Mohawk with its ColorMax technology.
Mohawk continues to expand its high-definition color technology with 14 ColorMax debuts in 2020 across SmartStrand, polyester and nylon. ColorMax combines multiple dye technologies to achieve a balanced, blended coloration with intense color saturation.
“We achieved everything we wanted to and more when we debuted ColorMax technology in 2019,” said Angela Duke, director of brand marketing. “Now we have to keep expanding what we offer consumers and provide innovative ColorMax merchandising for our retailers.”
While still extremely important, stain and soil protection are no longer the differentiator in the marketplace it once was. That’s because every carpet mill offers some version of a stain/soil treatment. Today’s movement is about healthier homes including indoor air quality. To address those needs, companies are focusing on healthier attributes such as hypoallergenic flooring.
Phenix Flooring has long been a leader in healthier homes, and it has a leg up on the competition with Microban. This global brand uses its antimicrobial technologies to eliminate damaging microbial growth on products and surfaces without impacting aesthetics or functionality.
“All our legacy products now feature Microban, which is still exclusive to Phenix,” said Jason Surratt, senior vice president of product and design. “It’s a great differentiator to have it on everything—it’s kind of like our trump card.”
The striking patterns and robust colors available in today’s carpet is the result of enhanced color and tufting technology that can create exciting new visuals. Among the many new innovations at Surfaces were those shown by Engineered Floors and The Dixie Group.
DW Select by Dream Weaver is a soft surface product notable for its twist multiplier (twistX) technology that uses a 3-ply yarn as opposed to the more traditional 2-ply. The third ply secures the twist and adds to the bundle density size of the yarn, thus providing enhanced performance along with enriched style and design. Laurie Dillingham, director of product styling & design for Engineered Floors, noted that twistX also features Scotchguard stain and soil resistance.
The Dixie Group introduced a new tufting technology as part of the TECHnique collection, which blends abstract patterns with elements of color and texture that is perfectly layered into woven-like visuals. “The collection creates a sensation of luxurious heirloom caliber textiles but are created to exacting details with state-of- the-art engineering,” said TM Nuckols, president of the residential division of The Dixie Group. “TECHnique allows you to control the needle on the tufting machine to create exacting looks.”