Textile Floor Covering Standards

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Do you enjoy the feel of a plush carpet on your toes? How do you know it's made of acceptable materials? Is it safe in your home and will it withstand wear? In this lesson, learn about textile floor covering standards.

What Are Textile Floor Coverings?

Textiles are all around us. We wear them and also use them in our homes, often as carpets and rugs. While textiles on our floors feel good and make our rooms stylish and comfortable, we also want to make sure they're safe to use. And we want them to stand up to years of wear.

Today, carpets come from all over the world. So how can we know that they're made of reliable materials and decent quality? Many manufacturers follow textile floor covering standards, agreed-upon international guidelines related to materials and processes used to create these textile goods no matter where they originated.

Standards help ensure the safety and durability of textile floor coverings
carpet segments

Before we get to a discussion of standards, let's cover some basics. A textile is a flexible material made by interlacing or connecting threads made of natural fibers like wool and cotton or synthetic (man-made) fibers like polyester. Textile floor coverings are textiles meant to be used on floor surfaces. They include carpets and related materials that are secured to a floor by something like staples, tacks or glue, as well as removable area rugs. Textile floor coverings are made by processes like knitting, weaving or needle-tufting, in which fibers are forced through a backing by using a needle. Another layer is then applied below the backing to secure the tufts in place.

Why Set Standards?

Textile floor coverings come from many places, and they're made by different processes in small workshops and large industrial settings. Because of this complex background, standards help ensure consistency, reliability and safety. They allow us to have confidence that we're getting what the label and advertising says it is. Standards help ensure that products, regardless of where they were made, are reliable, safe and of an acceptable level of quality.

Several organizations set standards. The International Organization for Standardization or ISO is a group of people from many industries who work to create worldwide uniform industrial standards. In general, ISO standards cover considerations like regulatory issues and management systems as well as safety and wear. Another important standards organization is the American Society for Testing and Materials or ASTM. While it began in the United States, today it's an international group that assesses and tests products for safety and durability concerns.

Textile Floor Covering Standards

ISO and ASTM standards are numerous and cover a whole range of processes used in making textile floor coverings, whether handmade or machine made. They also address a wide range of tests and continue to change and evolve as new flooring products are developed.

Some standards are very specific, outlining the number of tufts or loops per unit length and area in a carpet, while others address the thickness of products, including the pile or visible fibers of a carpet above the substrate. Some standards define and illustrate specific kinds of weaving, knitting and tufting techniques, and outline the types of knots used in hand-knotted carpets.

Some standards relate to the carpet pile or visible surface fibers
carpet pile

Other standards include tests for safety and durability, including how products relate to water and heat exposure. Some assess to what degree textile floor coverings have static electric propensity or the possibility of giving off static shock, which can be dangerous in some settings. The standards set guidelines for how products stand up to static loading, or what happens when heavy things like chair legs press against the surface. They ensure products are colorfast and won't fade, and that they don't contain harmful materials or residues from the manufacturing process.

Standards apply to different kinds of carpet making methods
short carpet

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