By Ken Ryan For years carpet mills devoted significant R&D to develop ever softer, more durable products to meet the demands of discerning homeowners—even when the category was losing share. That level of manufacturer commitment to carpet innovation has only increased as the category rebounded nicely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, mills are seizing on a market opportunity with new, technology-rich offerings that check all the critical boxes: softness, durability, vibrant color and stain and soil resistance. Executives say carpet’s noise-dampening properties and soft texture are appealing to homeowners who are spending more time at home.
To that end, mills are investing in the latest technologies to drive carpet innovation. “The tufting technology has allowed manufacturers who have invested in it to take it to a whole new level in patterns and cleanliness of finish,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of product management for soft surface, Mohawk. “[As a result], today’s carpet doesn’t look like the carpet of five years ago. It has become a decorative feature, and homeowners are using it to complement their décor.”
With most of the common areas of the household moving toward some sort of hard surface, the desire for something soft underfoot in the bedrooms and upstairs living areas has become paramount. “Soft fibers continue to be the hottest trend in the marketplace,” said Joe Young, soft surface category manager for Engineered Floors. “Solution-dyed fibers have always been touted for their inherent stain, bleach and fade resistance, but at the end of the day it is pretty carpet that sells. Solution-dyed fibers create ‘hi-def’ looks that conventionally dyed carpets cannot copy.”
With an eye toward busy households, Southwind designs all of its carpet with solution-dyed yarn. As Luanne Holloway, head of product development, explained, “Consumers need their carpet choices to be built to handle their everyday activities. With this yarn, the color is locked into the fiber all the way through and not applied to the yarn or the carpet after it is produced. This creates important advantages for active families.”
Noting that “demand for performance is at an all-time high,” Stanton continues its carpet innovation through fiber technology, according to Christine Zampaglione, senior director of marketing. “We develop our product with the end user in mind and how they will live with the product,” she explained.
Delivering products that perform under tough conditions has been a hallmark of Invista’s for years. Lately, its Stainmaster brand has been surging on the strength of its Nylon 6,6 fibers that enhance performance and longevity for floors.
Following is an overview of some of the latest introductions that promise to raise the bar on carpet innovation.
Anderson Tuftex’s newest introductions offer a collaboration of high-end style and performance, combining PetProtect with intricate pattern designs and use of Colorpoint Platinum tufting technology. “Precise detailing means each of these styles feels intimately custom made, providing the elevated designs our customers expect,” said Brad Christensen, soft surface category director, Shaw Residential. Offerings for 2021 include Purrfect Harmony and Sheer Purrfection—PetProtect carpets offered in 12 colors.
The Dixie Group
In 2021, TDG said it is looking to take style and design to a new level with its latest tufting innovation, 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.
Six new TECHnique qualities in 2021 include styles made with wool and EnVision 6,6 nylon in its Masland and Fabrica divisions. “These products are well suited in wall-to-wall broadloom installations or as custom-sized area rugs or runners,” Nuckols added. “Keynote styles include Fabrica Brushstrokes and Masland Tapdance, each featuring amazing depth and dimension.”
EF’s Astounding series is an example of solution-dyed yarns providing a more blended multicolor visual. Featuring proprietary ColorBurst technology in a tailored construction, EF’s Young said Astounding makes a statement by layering multiple colors with a space dye to create looks of natural hard surfaces like granite and marble.
Mohawk and Karastan introductions emphasize style and on-trend colors and modern patterns. They include Majestic Vision and Luxurious Statement from Karastan, and Regal Appeal (a pattern), and Soft Details II (a Colormax cut pile) from Mohawk. “These patterns really stand out, they are artwork on the floor,” Welborn said. “Colormax technology makes it easy for the consumer to decorate around these carpets.”
Welborn said the sustainability story that the EverStrand brand offers is making a connection with millennials.
Nature’s Carpet has added to its all-natural, chemical-free offering with the introductions of Aberdeen, Bilbao and San Sebastian. “We have recently launched Nature’s Carpet Couture to elevate our styling and our appeal to both the end user and the interior design community,” said Keith Donegani, CEO.
Couture adds 12 new styles and 56 overall SKUs in 100% New Zealand wool and includes textures and patterns in felted yarns and color palettes that are driving the demand for wall-to-wall carpet and finished rugs.
Shaw Floors’ newest introductions are Foundations and Simply the Best Values collections. Foundations aims for timeless and proven styles and Simply the Best Values boasts budget-friendly styles. Shaw Floors said it is also raising the bar on service with Shaw Floors Select, a priority service program that guarantees five-day shipping on select styles.
Loop De Loop, a new 2021 style from Simply the Best Values, features six colors inspired by macro-lens photography that captures organic elements down to the smallest detail. Fine Tapestry is a new style from Foundations providing small-scale patterns inspired by the vastness of textures found in crafting textiles.
Many Southwind products are suited for active lifestyles. A case in point is Artisan—with its dense, 1⁄8-gauge precision cut and uncut styling, the carpet can work in any application or design style, the company said. Its tonal, textural effects create small, subtle checks of cut and loop. Gallery, a tailored loop carpet in a 1⁄10-gauge construction; and Brushstrokes, styled in a 1⁄8-gauge construction, are made in a subtle block pattern created by textural areas of cut and loop.
Bahia is a handwoven flatweave carpet innovation that is designed to look and feel like wool and can be used indoors or out, thanks to its 100% UV-stabilized polysilk construction. Dottie is a woven dense, 100% solution-dyed polypropylene product from the Royalton brand. It comes in eight colors with a range of design elements including tonal colors.