What Are the Different Types of Carpet Backing?

Tiffany Manley

There are many brands of carpet backing, but they generally come in one of three types: natural fiber, recycled and polyurethane. Carpet fibers are sewn into a primary backing, and then a secondary backing is fused to the fibers and primary backing with latex. This helps provide a structurally sound carpet that usually stands up to many years of use. Natural fiber backings often use jute fiber, and recycled backings usually are made from recycled carpet backing. Polyurethane is a resin applied when a carpet is in its finishing stage, which helps protect against moisture.

Natural carpet backings are typically made of jute fiber.
Natural carpet backings are typically made of jute fiber.

Jute is the most common type of natural fiber used in carpet backings. Made from plant fibers, woven jute is very soft, strong and durable. Many people prefer jute because it is a natural material and is very strong and durable, creating a superior carpet backing. In some areas, jute is used less often in favor of materials such as polyurethane or recycled materials. Jute comes from plants grown in certain locations, so it might not be readily available in all areas.

Woven from plant fibers, jute is a traditional upholstery webbing, often used for carpet backing.
Woven from plant fibers, jute is a traditional upholstery webbing, often used for carpet backing.

Some carpet manufacturers use post-consumer content to manufacture their carpet backing. Old backing might be mixed with various minerals, creating a substance that can be used as filler in making new backing. Many people view this type of backing as an environmentally friendly choice. Other environmentally sound options have been researched to further enhance the process of manufacturing carpet backing, such as substituting natural materials for manmade ones.

Polyurethane has become increasingly popular as a carpet backing material. This material is applied at the end of the manufacturing cycle and turns into a rubbery substance on the back of the carpet. Many people believe that this is a superior backing material because it protects against moisture and helps prevent carpet tufts from coming loose. Polyurethane might not be the most environmentally friendly choice.

In addition to these main types of carpet backing, many companies have continued to research new ways of using materials to make the best possible product. An increasing number of manufacturers have tried to invent ways to use more reclaimed carpet materials to create new ones. Soy polyols are used by some manufacturers as a substitute for a portion of the petroleum used in creating polyurethane backing. An ideal backing would be inexpensive for a company to produce as well as durable and cost-efficient for the consumer.

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