By Ken Ryan
Over the past few years, carpet manufacturers have migrated to solution-dyed (SD) products in response to consumer demand for multiple colors and greater performance, whether it is stain and soil resistance or protection against fading.
Superior performance attributes combined with enhanced twisting technology has positioned SD fibers to dominate the market, say some carpet executives. “The popularity of solution-dyed carpets likely stems from unique incentives in both the manufacturing process as well as benefits to the consumer,” said Jeff Dill, director of mill sales & specialty retail for Invista, makers of the Stainmaster PetProtect brand. “For the consumer, the aesthetics that can be created using solution-dyed fibers is uniquely different than your traditional piece-dyed carpets. We are seeing many complex colors being introduced today that utilize four, five, even six different fiber singles colors to make the ultimate carpet color blend.”
While not every carpet mill has rallied around SD fibers, those that have are reaping the rewards of this growing segment. Few have benefited more than Engineered Floors. “The trend toward multicolor styling in the ‘big middle’ of the market has significantly contributed to the rise of solution-dyed products over the last 10 years,” said Joe Young, soft surface category manager. “The ability to blend multiple colors and achieve a very natural look and feel fits in with our desire to bring what we see in nature into the home.”
Other executives say the durability of today’s solution-dyed fiber has created strong consumer confidence in carpet products. “Today’s customer is searching for style and performance, which SD fibers offer,” said Christine Zampaglione, senior marketing director for Stanton. “One of the key benefits of solution-dyed fibers is that color is distributed through and locked into the fibers resulting in superior performance quality. Colorfastness, durability, washability and UV stability are all enhanced through the solution dying process.”
Teresa Tran, vice president, Shaw Floors retail channel, added, “When it comes to choosing the right carpet, consumers often start with what they see and feel. Their purchase is driven by color, comfort and value.”
Advantages of solution-dyed carpet
In terms of comfort, color and value, few soft surface offerings are delivering on that promise better than SD these days. According to EF’s Young, there are three main advantages to SD fiber.
“The first is permanent stain resistance. The beauty of permanent stain resistance is that repeated cleanings will not affect the performance of the fiber, and we do not have to rely on topicals in order to protect it from staining—it’s built into the fiber. The second is permanent bleach resistance. Not only does the consumer have the ability to spot clean with bleach, which will take out virtually all stains with ease, hard surface cleaners that may contain bleach do not affect the carpet when they inevitably bleed over in transition areas of the household. The third is permanent fade resistance. Colors stay vibrant for the life of the carpet, even in harsh sunlight and high-traffic areas. In essence, SD created a high-definition visual that does not fade.”
Whereas piece-dyed carpets can be susceptible to color change from several different factors—i.e., sunlight, atmospheric contaminants and using harsh cleaners to clean stubborn stains—solution-dyed carpets will resist all such color changes. This benefit can vary depending on the type of fiber and the pigments used to add color during extrusion.
Executives also point to the many styling options offered by solution-dyed yarns. As Dill noted, “Different colors and tones of these yarns can be twisted or air-entangled together and multiple colors can be planted in various constructions for very fashionable styling and color options that suit today’s markets.”
With such an array of benefits, mills are going to market armed with several points of differentiation. Southwind, for example, makes all of its carpets with solution-dyed yarn; its emphasis is on softness. “The soft story is important to our customers,” said Randy Lovelace, vice president of strategic accounts. “So, we put soft and solution-dyed together and market a wide selection of stylish So Soft PET products in our Soft Solutions display and in our collection of fashion-forward patterns featured in our Classic Traditions display.”
Phenix Flooring provides a wide portfolio of solution-dyed products in virtually any aesthetic of product category. “Our ColorSense Technology delivers discrete color placement with up to 12 different solution-dyed colors, resulting in a complex random aesthetic,” said Jason Surratt, senior vice president of product & design. “Individually colored yarns are blended to achieve an overall balance of tone and create a dynamic palette providing the consumer color flexibility.”
2020 solution-dyed carpet introductions
Among the notable introductions in the SD space has been Engineered Floors’ DW Select collection of 13 new styles ranging from dense cut piles to elegant patterns—all featuring the mill’s proprietary TwistX technology. One hit from that collection is Dublin, which features a small black pattern with striations running across the pile giving a basket weave visual. “Our PureColor SD PET is used as the launching point for all of our new technological innovations and is proving to be the most versatile fiber in the industry,” Young said.
Southwind expanded its solution-dyed portfolio with the Celestial collection, which is distinguished by ColorSurge SD, a unique, new process of creating solution-dyed yarn with premium color separation to achieve just the right amount of color pop. This process creates the look of space dye that is actually 100% solution dyed.
Within the Stainmaster PetProtect line are hundreds of styles currently in the market- place. Anderson Tuftex continues to build out its Stainmaster PetProtect franchise with the addition of Wizard of Paws—a new striated LCL that gives a modern look to a bedroom or featured living space.
Simply Awesome, Marquis’ 100-ounce solution-dyed polyester, is a new introduction. “As consumers continue to invest in upgrades, this provides a luxury product that will provide long-time wear with the availability of today’s color palette,” said Chet Graham, CEO.
Elegance is one of the latest styles introduced by Phenix in its Modern Contours collection. It includes subway tile and brick patterning, as well as artisanal touches to create earth-toned light, layered textures. Phenix has also introduced a brand-new fiber platform—SureSoftSDN solution-dyed nylon. A featured product in this new collection, Desire, showcases a natural stria enhanced with tonal highlights.
Tarkett has three new patterns launching in late May offering refreshed colorways, including Arabesque, which is noted for its blue-gray color. “Overall, solution-dyed fiber is a great choice for both residential and commercial carpets,” said Kathy Cline, marketing manager – residential soft surface for Tarkett. “Since all Tarkett residential products are solution dyed, it makes it an obvious choice for the consumer with children and pets.”
Shaw said it continues to see growth with its Simply the Best Values collection. “It’s all about value, visuals and variety,” Tran said. “Using both solution- and piece-dye methods allows us to provide budget-friendly styles that still offer style and design.”
Many of Stanton’s residential and commercial lines feature SD products, like the Royal Pavilion collection and SD Royaltron. Stanton Street, the company’s decorative commercial line, is primarily SD, which the company said commercial customers identify with and seek in their selections. New introductions include Enchanted, with styles such as Mesmerize and Magical.