By Ken Ryan
One of the pleasant surprises of 2020 was the re-emergence of carpet as a viable alternative to hard surface in the home. Flooring retailers reported sales of carpet improved sharply last year—in part due to the home renovation surge ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as technology improvements that have created a more desirable product.
Mill executives agree the development of more sophisticated tufting technology has revitalized the carpet segment, and that trend was inspired by consumer behavior. “Today’s customer is looking for products that complement the wood, tile or luxury vinyl flooring that is now running through most of the living areas and hallways of her home,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division of The Dixie Group. “Beautiful patterns let the consumer express her individual decorating tastes and help her create sanctuaries in her home. Technologies that let us create more beautiful patterns allow us to better meet the needs and decorating desires of today’s consumer.”
Following is a sampling of some of the latest technological innovations:
Colorpoint Platinum, billed as Anderson Tuftex’s most advanced broadloom tufting technology, has opened new doors for AT to create truly elevated styles. “Our new tailored loop styles released in 2020 have an innovative new loop structure that creates such unique textural effects,” said Maeriel Mumpar, designer – product development. “We were able to design impressively clean visuals that enhanced colors vividly and with great intensity. It even has the added benefit of visually looking like handwoven products.”
Mumpar said Anderson Tuftex has seen significant success with these styles as the market thirsts for authenticity. “The versatility and pattern capabilities of Colorpoint Platinum helps us meet that need as it executes every layer of our design vision for exceptional results.”
All Engineered Floors’ carpet is manufactured using solution-dyed fiber, which is said to offer a stain and fade resistance that other fiber dying methods would have a hard time matching. EF’s PureColor fiber system color permeates through 100% of the fiber and is accompanied by lifetime fade and stain warranties. Two standouts in their respective categories are Malibu and Hot Pursuit, both offering lifetime stain and fade warranties while spanning the range of consumer needs—from a value engineered proposition to a more plush, luxurious feel.
Invista’s solution-dyed fibers continue to gain momentum in the residential carpet segment by bringing real benefits to consumers. “By combining the strength and stain resistance of Invista SuperSD fibers, our mill partners can create residential products that are not only ultra-resistant to the everyday challenges from pets and their families, but also offer beautiful Stainmaster carpet styles and colors to complement any home,” said Rob Schnakenberg, Invista account manager, residential sales. “Stainmaster PetProtect carpet styles truly merge the elements of softness, performance and aesthetic together in one product.”
Color and price point aren’t the only factors driving consumers to buy carpet; they also desire ease of cleaning and durability, according to Jamie Welborn, vice president of product management, soft surface. To that end, Mohawk has responded with its SmartStrand collections, which now achieve new levels of softness, durability and ease of clean with a strong sustainability story. “In more recent years, sustainability has become so much more of a driver in consumer decisions because they feel an emotional attachment to ensuring their decisions help and do not hurt the environment,” Welborn added. “Mohawk can take used bottles and apply state-of-the-art technology such as Continuum and ColorMax and give the consumer nice styling, along with a great sustainability story.”
Shaw Floors’ soft surface technology innovations are most evident in the brand’s Bellera high-performance carpet collection. “Advancements in high-performance PET, spill-proof backings, bleach and fade-resistant technology and stain and soil treatments all make Bellera the best choice for pets and pet parents,” said Brad Christensen, vice president of soft surface product, residential division. “New bleach and fade-resistant technology allow us to provide customers with true consumer-driven solutions, including extreme resistance to bleach and harsh cleaning agents and enhanced protection from extreme conditions of fading caused by sunlight and environmental contaminants.”
Bellera supports Shaw’s Made Smarter, Live Better program and features some of the easiest styles to clean, thus promoting a healthy home with responsibly made flooring products, Christensen added.
Stanton’s new Anywhere Moxy collection is constructed of 100% solution-dyed polypropylene. It is a woven version of LCL carpet with both cut-pile and loop-pile technology. The line is designed for outdoor use; however, based on the look, feel and sheen of the construction, it could be deemed an indoor residential carpet, according to the company. “We feel this will mostly be used as indoor carpet, but with the increased demand for performance-driven fibers, the fabrication possibilities are endless,” said Christine Zampaglione, senior director of marketing. “The fact that it can also be used outdoors is an added benefit to the consumer, hence the name Anywhere collection.”
The Dixie Group
The company’s latest tufting innovation in patterned carpet is TECHnique, where state-of-the-art technology blends pattern, color and texture. “Through TECHnique, our design team has applied fashion sense and creativity with precision design to create stunning, woven-like visuals,” said T.M. Nuckols, president of the residential division of The Dixie Group. “We are very excited to feature six amazing new TECHnique qualities in 2021, including styles made with wool and EnVision66 nylon in our Masland and Fabrica divisions. These products are well suited in wall-to-wall broadloom installations or as custom-sized area rugs or runners. Keynote styles include Masland Twostep and Fabrica Watercolor, each featuring a luxurious elegance with amazing depth and dimension.”