November 21/28, 2016: Volume 31, Number 12
By Ken Ryan
Carpet mills ratcheted up their R&D efforts in 2016 like never before to deliver to the market a constellation of compelling products that cover all the important bases: style and design, durability, softness, and stain and pet protection.
Following is a closer look at the some of the top introductions and innovations from 2016:
So Suede and Mulberry have been successful additions to Beaulieu’s Stylish Beauty collection featuring 24 new PermaSoft fiber offerings. These products incorporate Beaulieu’s patented Precision Control Twist (PCT) technology, which creates dimensional color and texture throughout the yarn bundle to produce unique surface characteristics when manufactured. “The art is our ability to combine a variety of fibers with different colors, sizes, lusters and dye abilities which then blend together in varied twist capacities creating a unique face canvas,” said Tom Ellis, chief marketing officer. “We enhance the beauty of the fiber with tuft technology to highlight the organic nature of the stria.”
Ellis noted the organic nature of the technology minimizes the appearance of soil, stain and wear. He said the response to the collection has been “tremendous with So Suede and Mulberry resonating with our customers in a phenomenal way. Our customers have featured this product in all their displays because the consumer acceptance has been so great.”
Two 2016 introductions, Scenic City and Cornerstone, offer what Ellis termed “a sophisticated alternative to what they have seen on the market at an affordable price point.”
Bolstered by new introductions in both the commercial and residential markets, 2016 has been a year of unprecedented growth for Engineered Floors.
Pentz Commercial Flooring Solutions is being marketed as a “bold new day” for Main Street. According to company executives, Pentz promises maximum performance, leading warranties and features, backed by competitive pricing. The three collections, Essentials and Formation (modular) and Prismatic (modular and broadloom), are made with the company’s Encore SD Ultima Nylon with Nexus backing. The products are available via QuickShip.
FlexBac is the first premium backing system offered within the entry-level residential product category. FlexBac is noted for its flexibility and dimensional stability. Another plus is its anti-delamination warranty. “FlexBac has no latex, thus increasing the ease of installation by being lighter, more flexible and softer while saving time, energy and money,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing.
Engineered Floors’ Dream Weaver made news with its lifetime pet warranty, which promises “a lifetime of relief for you and your pet.” The distinctive purple shield assures the polyester or nylon carpet is warranted against accidental stains caused by dogs or cats.
Marquis Industries continues to enjoy success with its soft yarn program, led by Soft Luxury, an 80-ounce solution dyed PET fiber that is the mill’s largest volume producer. The company introduced junior versions of Soft Luxury during the summer, in 60- and 45-ounce weights.
Other new introductions: Natural Wonder, also an 80-ounce weight that incorporates a natural shield stain protection fiber; and Naturally Soft, a 60-ounce product that combines the best colors from other lines. “Soft Luxury is our No. 1 product and has a beautiful finish and luster level,” said Mike Lindberg, executive vice president, Marquis Industries. “Dealers are asking for soft yarn and ours is as soft as anything in the industry.”
Marquis Industries’ secret sauce is its extrusion plant that produces millions of pounds of continuous filament solution-dyed polyester and nylon. These cones of yarn are then processed in a computer-controlled twisting and heat set plant. Every yarn SKU is regulated to ensure products are made to the same high-quality specification every time.
SmartStrand Forever Clean, installed in more than 7 million homes and heralded for its durability, stain resistance and comfort, has become an even “smarter” choice for active families with pets. In 2016 Mohawk enhanced this popular carpet with All Pet Protection, a warranty and protection system that covers all pets, all accidents, all the time.
“We continue to build on the success of the incredibly soft and durable SmartStrand fiber we introduced 10 years ago,” said Seth Arnold, Mohawk’s senior director of soft surface brand. “SmartStrand has evolved into SmartStrand Forever Clean, a carpet that employs Nanoloc technology to lock out spills and make the carpet even easier to clean. And now we are introducing the All Pet Protection warranty because we believe SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet can handle all pets, all accidents, all the time.”
SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet has been tested in zoo habitats for animals of all types. While built-in stain and soil protection that never wears or washes off is inherent in the SmartStrand fiber, there is more to the SmartStrand story, according to Arnold. Nanoloc’s advanced spill-resistant shield, he said, is made from nanoparticles that seamlessly lock together, preventing dirt and spills from settling into the carpet. With SmartStrand Forever Clean, soil is released at three times the rate of other carpets, allowing for a carpet that is easier to clean and requires less vacuuming.
SmartStrand Forever Clean has the added advantage that liquids cannot absorb into the fiber. Compared to nylon carpet, which absorbs up to 5% of its weight in liquid, SmartStrand Forever Clean offers 0% absorption—a huge advantage in a family with pets. “For families who want to make sustainable choices for their homes,” Arnold said, “this carpet is made in part with annually renewable plant-based materials that minimize our usage of limited natural resources. It is also the only carpet fiber certified free from harmful substances by Oeko-Tex.”
Phenix added three new products to its Stainmaster PetProtect line this month—Lyrical, Poetry and Narrative. These multi-color patterned carpets employ innovative technology that allows for varying pile heights, ensuring each carpet has a unique combination of toned neutrals that come together to create a fresh contemporary palette. All three products feature cut patterns so dogs, cats and other household pets won’t snag their claws on loops and cause pulls.
Shaw continues to develop products featuring its exclusive LifeGuard waterproof backing system, which responds directly to consumers’ need for ease of maintenance combined with the comfort and softness of luxurious carpet. “As we’ve expanded the styles available with LifeGuard—starting with Life Happens, and subsequently with Anso Living—we’ve been able to offer this stylish, high performance product at a variety of price points to meet customers’ purchase decisions,” said Brad Christenson, director of category and product management, Shaw Floors.
Shaw’s research and development teams collaborated to design the waterproof LifeGuard backing system with its R2X stain and soil protection technology built in. This combination works to stop liquid spills and inevitable accidents from reaching the cushion and subfloor, preventing potential odors, wicking and subfloor damage. “LifeGuard successfully elevates our carpet collections making the upgrade a no-brainer for our customers who are searching for the cleanability and durability LifeGuard provides,” Christensen said. “In turn, it provides an easier sales process for our retailers by combining a variety of features into one carpet option they can easily explain and confidently sell, and an innovative, unmatched solutions for their customers’ homes.”
Christensen said LifeGuard has been widely accepted as the go-to product for pet owners and busy families who don’t want the stress of high-maintenance carpet. “With LifeGuard, our retailers have been able to tell their customers that stains and odors can now be 100% removed.”
Shaw plans to deliver more LifeGuard-enabled products to the market in 2017.
The newest styles from Stanton’s Atelier Icon collection—part of the hot-selling Stainmaster PetProtect program—are made with nylon 6,6, making it an ideal choice for rooms with heavy traffic.
The abstract designs and neutral colors of Aspire Waterfall and Aspire Concept overlay each other, creating an artistic blend of random shapes and cross hatched patterns accented by tip sheering. According to Stanton, Aspire Network’s all loop trellis design and interlocking shapes merge to create a double-layered effect; Aspire Compass is a multi-edge look, outlined with diamonds.
Other 2016 introductions include the Relax collection, which provides an avant-garde style with vibrant color accents; and Garden of Eden and Centered, which are treated with antique effects to keep these designs modern, abstract and transitional.
Tuftex is known for natural, solution-dyed and barber-pole yarns that combine with the latest tufting technologies to create differentiated products. This was illustrated with Colorpoint, its first cut and loop line.
Colorpoint technology allows the precise placement of color with the combination of finely controlled yarn feed systems and sophisticated software. “You can get closer to the woven looks yet produced with efficiencies and speed of today’s tufting machines,” said Jim Cusick, director of manufacturing, who explained the cut and loop construction allows for greater diversity of products by blending yarns, densities, texture and construction. “With a finer gauge machine we are able to use softer more luxurious yarns for greater sophistication and still retain superior performance characteristics.”
The first Colorpoint introductions were two-color solution dyed products. This year Tuftex utilized blends of barber poles, natural and over-dyeable yarns to create distinctive, high performance and fashionable looks.
“These Colorpoints are not easy to make but we are committed to respond to the market demand for a new and innovative soft floorcovering product,” Cusick said. Tuftex is able to combine the unique use of yarns with tufting and proprietary dyeing technology to service a full offering of colors and looks that are hard to replicate.