Unless someone is in the carpet business, they probably aren’t familiar with secondary backs in carpets. Most customers focus on the top of the carpet for the color and texture of the tufts of fiber. However, the back of the carpet is an equally important part of the overall carpet.
The woven underside provides durability, form and strength to the fibers above. The yarn becomes tufted, or woven, into the primary backing. Then, a secondary backing adheres to the primary backing where the fibers are woven in. This strong adhesive binds the primary backing and secondary backing to keep the tufts in place and provide overall protection and stability.
There are many types of secondary backing used on carpets but the main materials are jute, sponge rubber, polypropylene, foam or urethane. Manufacturers pick the materials based on the performance requirements of the carpeting. They can also have additional treatments done to them, such as anti-microbial or anti-static solutions. Carpet backing generally come on three performance levels—high performance, performance and standard.
While it’s easy to focus on the yarn side of carpet, clients, inspectors and contractors need to remember that the underside yields some important information on how the carpet will suit the client’s needs.