It’s no secret that polyester has taken the bulk of market share in residential carpet in recent years, accounting for an estimated 65%-70% of volume sold. And within polyester, solution-dyed carpet (SD) has grown in dominance, now representing about 65% of the business.
As Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing for SD leader Engineered Floors, explained, “Solution-dyed carpet delivers a level of performance that is hard to match with traditional methods.”
Unlike nylon carpet, which has external dye sites and is susceptible to staining, PET carpet does not have external dye sites and, therefore, protects against staining. The solution dyeing results in the color being integrated into the fiber and, thus, resists fading better.
Emily Harris, senior brand manager for Southwind, said solution-dyed PET covers the top four areas a homeowner is seeking answers to whether she knows it or not:
- Fashion: Color, style, textures and pattern finishes at multiple price points.
- Lifestyle preference: Pets, kids, teens, personal cozy areas, in-home workspace.
- Quality: High-warranty protection in key areas including abrasive wear, fade resistance, texture retention and manufacturing defects.
- Household care and upkeep: Top-of-the-line warranty protection.
Other mill executives see the benefits for homeowners as well. “As consumers move to more soft-handed carpeting, solution-dyed products allow the consumer to purchase comfort without making any sacrifice on the lifespan of their investment,” said Chet Graham, president of Marquis Industries.
As a leader in this segment, Engineered Floors leverages its proprietary manufacturing techniques to produce fibers like PureColor. This solution-dyed fiber is engineered to be inherently fade and stain resistant and pet-proof for the life of the carpet. “One of the key benefits of PureColor solution-dyed fiber is the color penetrates the entire fiber, so customers do not have to worry about problems like side match should they have a need to replace a section of carpet,” Sanderson explained. “This also allows for subtle color variations that lend for greater style and design options in the home.”
Among the big three, Shaw and Mohawk have added solution dyed to their repertoire but remain committed to other processes. “Traditionally, solution-dyed products have been inherently more bleach and fade resistant; however, thanks to our ColorGuard technology, we can design products either way and still achieve the same level of resistance,” said Brad Christensen, director of soft surface, Shaw Floors.
Mohawk, for example, has added solution-dyed polyester products to its commodity segment, which it defines as 25-ounce and under. “We will be 100% solution-dyed fiber by the end of the year in commodity,” said Jamie Welborn, vice president of residential carpet product development.
To Welborn, the biggest benefit to solution dyed is water and energy usage, which is less in SD than in other methods. “With solution dyed there is no wet process like there is in continuous dyed,” he said. “You still use energy in solution dyed but you don’t have to go through a dye line, so if you have big runs, it is more economical to use solution dyed.”
SD also stands up well to heavy traffic areas—another benefit that is resonating with consumers. “Other fibers may lose their brilliancy and wear over the long term,” said Christine Zampaglione, senior director of marketing for Stanton Carpet. “Fading under furniture or sun-exposed areas can occur with other fibers, whereas solution dyed ensures that color and performance attributes are embedded throughout the entire fiber and not just on the surface. This results in more vibrant color and consumer confidence is enhanced as their carpets will maintain the integrity of the aesthetic for many years to come.”
Mills of varying sizes are filling the product pipeline with SD offerings in 2022. Engineered Floors added Davos and San Lucas to the mix. Davos is a soft, subtle pin-dot pattern that shows off striated colorations that are accentuated by a warm earth tone.
Mohawk’s solution-dyed introductions include Detailed Comfort, a 100% SD loop that provides a high-end wool look; and Bold Option, a 100% SD “really beefy, heavy-handed carpet,” Welborn said.
Marquis continues to make capital improvements in the extrusion and yarn process allowing for updated styling without sacrificing wearability, staining or comfort. “Our upper-end carpeting is the standout feature of our product lineup,” Graham said, citing Simply Awesome as an industry success story. “This product provides incredible softness with the current color trends. Dealers are able to separate themselves with this upper-end styling as homeowners continue to request this product for the beauty with comfort underfoot.”
Phenix Flooring has received positive feedback from its SureSoftSDN cationic solution-dyed nylon, which is designed to repel acid-based stains. Phenix’s FloorEver PetPlus carpet features solution-dyed fibers, is pet friendly and extremely durable. It comes with Microban technology for 24/7 protection against bacteria, mold and mildew. This carpet is also warranted for stairs for added peace of mind and performance.
For Shaw Floors, the clear winner this year has been the anchor product to its new Pet Perfect platform: Yes You Can. It’s available in 12- and 15-feet formats with 45-, 60- and 70-ounce options for a good, better, best upgrade story. “This product is the more sophisticated successor to the very successful Because We Can franchise in 24 beautiful barber pole thread ups,” Christensen said. Yes You Can is manufactured using Anso high-performance fiber and touts bleach and fade resistance.
Stanton’s new products, including all of its L.I.O.N. (Luxury Indoor Outdoor Nylon) introductions, are UV stabilized SD supersoft nylon with key performance attributes.
Southwind’s top-performing new introduction is LuxMax Ambience, a BCF-PET fiber that “answers the emotional drivers of exceptional style and design options with the softness of hand,” Harris said.
Tarkett Home offers impressive resistance to stains thanks to its Primus PET fiber, which offers lifetime warranties for staining and pets. Tarkett’s solution-dyed PET colors and designs are all developed in-house and constructed of solution-dyed PET fiber. Its newest Lifetime Style collection boasts a variety of patterned, textured and loop products that reflect the latest color and design trends. Papyrus offers a textural surface from 100% SD Primus PET fiber that reflects the look of a natural chenille fabric.