Most of the rugs today are machine made using advance technologies to imitate the intricate detailing of handmade rugs while at contrastingly reduced costs. This is primarily the cost factor which is making it popular, trendy and demanding amongst the homeowners.
Basically, these rugs are made using wool, silk, nylon, olefin or a blend of any of these. Bamboo is also occasionally used for the manufacturing of rugs. The rug’s backing is considered to be the foundation of the rug providing it stability, delamination protection, stronger tuft binding holding the fibres together and antimicrobial protection.
In order to keep them fresh and lively, manufacturers have designed them specifically to enable a constant movement of air through them. This further helps the rug to pass air, gas and moisture through them and thus maintain the integrity and life of their pile content. This also saves your flooring from getting damaged by constant cover and being devoid of any fresh air. A proper backing is therefore critical as any rug lacking it would succumb to mildew, mold and extreme wear. The most notable and common types of rug backing are heat-set, woven, felt and latex.
The majority of machine-made rugs are made using heat-set backings. The backing is called heat-set because of the high heat process it goes through. It’s during a high heat process when the backing is applied to the rugs. The greatest advantage of heat-set backing is its breathability. This type of backing allows the rug to breathe properly and thus making it a great choice for many homeowners. Even, in most wall to wall constructions, this same type of backing is used. When you will look at the pattern and design, it’ll appear as a square matrix which you may have seen in many rugs and carpets as this is a very common and popular backing type. Another way to have a solid confirmation about the heat-set backing is its texture _ it has a coarse feeling when touched.
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When opting for cheaper and inexpensive rugs, you may want to consider their backing and the damage they can bring to your floor. It wouldn’t be a wise decision to save some bucks buying a cheap carpet while splurging heavy if your flooring gets damaged. A fine example is Olefin rugs. They are cheap due to the obvious reason that Olefin is a plastic. Moreover, these rugs are majorly made using heat-set backing of polypropylene which is again a plastic; causing a serious damage (scratches) to your hardwood floors. This can be easily resolved by using a rug pad or a rug gripper as it will act as a protective layer between the floor and the rug. There is one more persistent problem with Olefin rugs. Their corners and edges tend to curl which can become quite unpleasant and unappealing for decor enthusiasts. But don’t worry as it can be corrected easily since Olefin is a plastic. You need to use a damp rag to cover the curl and then apply moist heat over it. Use hot clothes iron to soften the plastic with the heat. Once you are done with it, you need to let it come back to the room temperature though placing some books on the hot spot for few hours or overnight will reset the edges for months.
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There are other rug backings as well which allow the air to flow through the fibres. Woven and felt rug backings are two of them which are common in the industry. If you find that the back of the rug doesn’t have any kind of material, then there is a high chance of it being a woven rug. You can see the weave of the face fibres in woven rugs since they don’t have any material at the back (see picture below). Since there is no material or covering at the back of these rugs, this is the reason why these rugs have great ventilation through them.
Felt backing which is basically made using pressed wool or acrylic fibre is an inexpensive backing. It is glued or sewn at the back of the rug. In these cases, a simple fibre typically a natural fibre is attached at the back to hide the original backing of the rug.
The worst backing type of all is the latex backing due to one simple yet critical reason _ rug’s breathability. It is the main drawback that latex backing wouldn’t allow the rugs to breathe and thus enticing a lot of negative factors both to the rug and the flooring. Since, these rugs cannot allow the air or gas to pass through; they will damage the carpet, stone, hardwood or laminate flooring beneath. The worst part is that latex backing actually attracts moisture.
We have shortlisted few major flooring and the damage latex does to them _
1. If you have a carpet flooring in your room, it will become yellowish after a certain period of time losing its colour and charm
2. Stone and concrete flooring will start to exhibit physical damage
3. With hardwood flooring, it will start to warp and its finishing would be lost
4. Laminate flooring will become yellow and gradually start to warp as well
You can easily find latex backing with bath mats and some cheaper area rugs and runners. It is strongly advised to avoid using latex backed rugs unless you have ceramic or porcelain tile flooring.
Thoughts from the experts
It is critical and of high importance that you pay attention to the backing of the rug while considering to buy a new rug. Mostly, homeowners only research about the type, colour, size and the pattern while ignore the backing. On the contrary, it should be an extremely valuable factor in your decision making process. Here are two general rules to keep in mind _
1. First, the rug you choose should be able to breathe to allow the air, moisture and gas pass through it.
2. Second, you’ll need a rug pad or a gripper if you have a rug with heat-set or woven backing.
While buying offline, you can easily speak with the sales person to determine the rug’s backing if there is no mentioning of it on the manufacturer’s label attached. The same you need to do when shopping online; consult with the customer support team and ask for the information. At the end of the day, it is far better to be informed about your backing as if you choose a wrong backing; it may ruin or damage your flooring.
We hope that we have covered all the essential and key points while detailing all major backing types available in the market today _ heat-set, woven, felt and latex. Just in case if you think that we missed any important point or you have some queries regarding these backings, we would love to hear from you. All you need to do is just drop your thoughts in the comment section below and we would try to revert as soon as possible. Meanwhile, continue reading and shopping with us.