There’s a move on to produce loop pile carpets with spun yarn and, in fact, there are several products now on the market constructed this way. Spun yarn is made up of short pieces of staple fiber, normally 7 to 8 inches in length, that are blended, paralellized, drawn, twisted and heat set. This process is the same as making yarn from wool and it is a means to emulate a woolen like appearance in the new products which are being produced with this yarn system. There is an additional step however with these new nylon yarns and that is a process of thermal sealing the yarn. There are a few different methods for achieving this “melt” sealing of the yarn in use today. This process is supposed to keep the fiber intact and prevent severe fuzzing but still allowing some minimal fuzzing to give the appearance of a wool carpet. The process is also supposed to create a tight twist when the yarn is processed and the twist is set.
We’ve looked at some of these products after there were complaints brought to our attention and we did some testing and evaluating of the product. The initial appearance of the sample is that of a wool carpet with a very similar hand (feel). When viewed from a distance the carpet does look like wool. When looked at more closely there is an inherent and disconcerting fuzzing on the surface. The carpet was tested with a velcro tester and after 10 passes there was severe fuzzing. The carpet was pulled apart and the yarn was examined individually. It had a relatively clean look as it is supposed too. However, when configured in the carpet, on a sample that had never been walked on or subjected to any type of traffic, the carpet surface was inherently fuzzy and noticeably so.
There was a complaint on this product for fuzzing that was looked at in the field and the consumer was extremely dissatisfied with the carpets appearance in less than a months time. That concern was voiced to the dealer and a complaint was filed. Now fuzzing and pilling has been a plague on the industry for several years and it has most often been the result of poor finishing relative to incomplete latex penetration and fiber lock. With this new product you can have excellent finishing and still have a problem. My question is this, why would you want to produce a product that inherently possesses characteristics that have generated millions of dollars in claims losses, has consistently been in the top three carpet claims categories and that has alienated consumers for years?
You the dealer are going to be seeing these new products hit your sales floors if you haven’t already but you’re going to be hearing a lot more from them and it’s not going to be good news. I’m sorry to have to say that you should expect to see your complaints rise with this type of product. Now, I hope I’m wrong and that what we have looked at was a fluke but I don’t think it was. The finishing wasn’t great on the samples and I hope that was the difference but I don’t feel that either.
One of the things that often happens in this industry is product getting out before it has had any “real life” testing. The other thing is that no one seems to look at a product and think about whether or not it will generate complaints because of how its constructed, how it will perform or how it will look after it’s been in use for a while. Think about all the “new” introductions of product you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in the past, the old polyesters, the loose looped polypropylene berbers. Can you remember the complaints generated by Stainmaster when it first came out? There were soiling complaints due to how the consumer was told to spot clean the product, thousands of complaints of yellowing and more than a few dealers replacing product. The manufacturers were pulling their hair out, especially the folks working in the claims departments; no greater frustrations were ever experienced by these unappreciated guardians of the gate. They were dumped on in a major way.
These new products you’re going to see aren’t cheap, they’re extremely stylish and there will be a demand for them. However, before you sell the daylights out of these things you’d best rub your hand over the sample a few times to make sure they don’t look fuzzy after that relatively delicate procedure. If they do fuzz you can only imagine what they’ll look like down the hallway and in front of the furniture of your customers homes. You’ll be getting phone calls and it won’t be because they want to praise you.
I understand the logic behind these new products but I can’t believe someone didn’t look at them more closely before they made their way to market. In every way they are great looking products and the concept may be a good one but I think they may come back to haunt you. As I said, I hope I’m wrong but I don’t feel that way.