What is Carpet Backing?

Carpet backing refers to the underside of a carpet. It reinforces the carpet by holding the tufts in place and provides extra protection against everyday wear and tear.

Carpet Backing

Carpets with backings made of recycled or natural materials are more sustainable. Carpet backing components may vary from one carpet brand to another.

Why Carpet Backing is Crucial

Besides enhancing longevity, carpet backing also refines retention. Carpet fiber stitches are locked into the primary backing, which strengthens the tuft bind and prevents edge raveling and zippering.

While secondary backing isn’t structural, it provides extra support to the carpet. Secondary backing is an insulation layer. It keeps the carpet from absorbing moisture and harboring mold and bacteria.

Carpet backing also makes installation easier. Instead of using tack strips to hold the carpet in place, installers use tape on the backing.

Carpet Backing: The Process

Carpets have primary and secondary backing. Underneath the carpet, a primary backing forms a structural reinforcement. It’s a coarse element that holds the fibers together. 

An adhesive binds the primary and secondary backing. The secondary backing often has several layers. 

There are two methods of applying primary and secondary backings. One is the puddling process, where a viscous polymer is attached to the carpet fiber. The other approach is to thrust a sheet onto the fiber.

Other manufacturers choose to attach a finished carpet backing. After applying the backings, the carpet is dried using an oven to eliminate moisture from the adhesive.

3 Common Carpet Backing Types

Manufacturers use three materials for carpet backing: latex, thermoplastics, and polyurethanes. 

1. Latex-Backed

Latex is a water-based method used to make broadloom carpets. Most carpet manufacturers use the latex-backed method. Latex consists of polyurethane dispersion (PUD), vinyl acetate-ethylene (VAE), and styrene butadiene rubber (SBR).

Most latex-backed carpets are synthetic since this method uses synthetic adhesive chemistry. Manufacturers use the latex-based method since it’s cost-effective. It’s also ideal to achieve a solid tuft bind.

The biggest con is that latex-backed carpets deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture.

2. Thermoplastics

There are three types of thermoplastics. They all offer dimensional stability and sturdy edge ravel. Some thermoplastics techniques protect against moisture retention. Like polyurethanes, thermoplastics are recyclable.

Thermoplastics come in three categories—PVC, polyolefins, and hotmelt backing systems.

  • PVC: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) isn’t prone to edge travel and offers dimensional stability. It’s a precoat that prevents spills from getting beyond the carpet layer.
  • Polyolefins: Like PVC, polyolefins have an aqueous precoat system. Yet, they’re a newer carpet backing option prone to temperature fluctuations.
  • Hot melt-backed: Hot melts have a sturdier tuft bind than latex. They also come with better warranty terms. Hot melt-backed carpets are pricier and more challenging to install.

3. Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a plastic polymer material made of urethane links. Manufacturers use reactive chemistry to form the backing structure. Polyurethanes, like latex, can’t be recycled into new carpet backings.

Polyurethane-backed carpets have a polymeric bond between the primary and secondary backing. Their unique molecular structure forms a solid material that resists wear and tear.

Polyurethane backing has sturdy adhesion properties, which enhance the tuft binding. The yarn also forms a tight weave. 

Standard vs. Performance Backing

Standard backings are often made of natural jute fiber or synthetic thermoplastic resin. They’re available in woven and non-woven constructions.

While standard backing is cheaper, performance backing has higher tuft bind elements. Standard backing has a limited warranty. Since performance backing is of a higher standard, it comes with a warranty of up to 10 years.

Choose standard backing if you’re carpeting a low-traffic area. Its counterpart has a thick latex backing ideal for high-traffic areas.

High-performance backing comes with denser latex. You also get a lifetime warranty. Manufacturers recommend glue-down installation for high-performance backings. It prevents moisture penetration and is suitable for high foot traffic areas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What does action-backed carpeting mean?

It’s a fabric made of synthetic woven jute. It’s durable and ideal for sound insulation. The backing technique is common in rugs designed for high foot traffic areas. It has a latex coating on both the primary and secondary backing.

What is jute backing?

Jute is a natural fiber extracted from the fibrous jute plant. The fibers are shredded and then turned into yarn. Woven jute backing is soft and durable. It doesn’t have a non-skid texture, so placing a rug pad underneath is best.

What’s the most common carpet backing?

Latex is the most common carpet backing. It’s inexpensive, easy to install, and has a solid tuft bind with high standard edge-ravel strength. Latex is easier to stretch, making it ideal for various carpet patterns.

How thick should my carpet pad be?

Most residential carpets have a pad with a thickness of between 3⁄8 and 7⁄16 of an inch. High-profile carpets should also have at least a 6-pound density rating. Low-profile should have padding thickness below 7⁄16 of an inch.