By Ken Ryan Today’s consumer is not only well educated when she walks into a retail showroom, but she’s also unwilling to compromise on the features and benefits she wants in carpet. Fortunately, solution dyed checks many style and performance boxes. In light of this, mill executives say solution-dyed products are resonating with customers and fueling sales in this carpet segment.
Solution dyed has benefited from what some say has been a dramatic shift in preference by consumers from solid to multicolor. “Gone are the days where people need a crayon box color palette, as the desired look has moved to naturally blended colorations created by a neutral color palette,” said Joe Young, soft surface category manager for Engineered Floors. “The accelerated use of resilient hard surfaces throughout the common areas of the household has paved the way for blended tonal products to take over bedrooms and other extra living areas as the consumer is looking for a smooth, natural transition from her hard surfaces.”
Young noted that solution-dyed carpets make for a more vibrant, natural looking, multi-color carpet that is very hard—and expensive—to do in conventional piece-dyed methods. “Multicolor is here to stay in one form or another, and solution-dyed carpets provide the most natural visual that will always be preferred by the consumer.”
Other executives, including Jason Surratt, vice president, residential carpet business, Phenix Flooring, said solution-dyed products’ lifetime performance and ease of maintenance have been a driving force for consumers as well. “Stains are one of the biggest risks and worries within the home, and understanding the inherent benefits of solution-dyed fiber gives the consumer peace of mind.”
Stanton executives say they have seen a greater desire for solution-dyed products due to increasing demand for performance goods that feature a high level of style and design. “The consumer ultimately wants her home furnishings to not only be beautiful and decorative, but she also expects her products to have a longer lifespan with less maintenance and easy cleanup capability,” said Adam Feldberg, senior director of product and innovation. “This trend is seen across a variety of product categories, including fabric, furniture and carpet. The notion of rooms that are not lived in or reserved for only special occasions is truly a thing of the past.”
Solution-dyed fibers have a number of advantages over traditionally-dyed fibers, observers say, including being far more fade resistant and having far higher levels of stain resistance. Both of these advantages occur due to the manufacturing process where the colors are made an integral part of the carpet fiber. Solution-dyed fibers have the coloration built into the fibers as they are formed in the production process, so the color is completely integrated into the individual fibers; therefore, the carpet will resist fading much better than carpets using other dyeing processes.
These benefits are playing right into the hands of today’s consumer, according to Carole Shealy, director, product management and development for Tarkett, who noted: “Consumers with busy and active lifestyles want a carpet that is easy to maintain.”
If anything, the growth and popularity of solution dyed has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, flooring observers say, as more consumers stay home and ultimately realize the need to replace their carpet. In those instances, most consumers do the bulk of their research online. “The consumer wants to make an educated decision about her investment, and when she sees the multitude of information and positive reviews readily available about solution-dyed fiber, she feels confident that it is a wise choice,” said Luanne Holloway, head of product development for Southwind.
Brad Christensen, director, soft surface category manager for Shaw Floors, said consumers are choosing carpet based on its style, design, performance and overall value. “As consumers continue to gravitate toward tonals and tweeds, the use of more solution-dyed fibers at Shaw and within the industry has accelerated,” he said.
As solution-dyed products continue gaining popularity in carpet these days, mills are ramping up their efforts with a bevy of new products. Here’s a sampling:
Young said EF recently released two “heavyweight” soft surface products directed at those consumers wishing to max out on softness and comfort underfoot. PS750 and PS850 are the pre- cursors to the Monte Carlo series, which will be a good, better, best at 60/70/80 ounces. “We are using a specialized tufting method to better blend both subtle and bold multi-colors in a tailored construction,” he explained. “With the majority of carpet being relegated to the bedrooms, we are seeing consumers want heavier ounce weights and softer fibers to counteract all of the hard surface being used in the rest of the house.”
Phenix’s new FloorEver collection features SureSoftSDN solution-dyed nylon as well as SureSoftSD solution-dyed polyester. “The SureSoftSDN product offering is ‘livable luxury’ at its finest,” Surratt said. “The state-of-the-art fiber provides inherent stain, fade and soil resistance. And because it’s made form durable nylon, the carpet will bounce back time and again, looking newer longer.”
Phenix has also included select SureSoftSD polyester products in the FloorEver program so consumers can shop a single display and find something that fits their budget.
Shaw has two new solution-dyed products in its Simply the Best Values collection—Framed View and Iconic Way. “These two products perfectly represent our ‘budget-friendly styles never looked or felt so good’ commitment,” Christensen said. “The subtle patterns represented in these loop constructions provide a tangible design upgrade from the overwhelming amount of industry-wide cut piles offered in similar price points.”
Southwind puts soft and solution dyed together and markets a wide selection of So Soft PET products in its Soft Solutions display, as well as in Classic Traditions, the company’s collection of fashion-forward LCL (level cut & loop) patterns. In 2021, Southwind is introducing four new, 100% solution-dyed So Soft pet products. Three of the new carpets—Artisan, Gallery and Finesse—are smooth, tight-dense 1/8 gauge cut piles in 37-, 46-, and 60-ounce constructions. Brushstrokes is a 1/10-gauge LCL designed in a random geometric pattern for the consumer that wants a little more flair in her décor.
New solution-dyed products include Apex, a new style in Stanton’s Atelier Vertex collection offered in a color palette that is suitable for a variety of design aesthetics. Apex is machine tufted and offers the added performance benefits of 3M Scotchgard SD Nylon. Apex is made to withstand the needs of today’s busy lifestyles, the company said.
The new Park Series collection (Candler Park, Grant Park and Inman Park) from Tarkett features the company’s new, 100% solution-dyed Primus PET- DuraSoft Fiber. “This new carpet yarn system is unique,” Shealy said. “It offers a softness and durability with our ability to blend together our Primus PET fiber and Primus PET SuperSoft fiber into a single yarn system providing superior texture retention and performance with a great soft, cottony feel.”