The Low-Down on Marine Carpeting
Published: Monday, March 27, 2017
The next time you are in the market to replace that dingy or ripped up carpet on your boat, you can approach the chore with some extra knowledge and facts and be assured you are getting what you want and need. Sparta Carpets, headquartered in Dalton, Georgia — the leading center in the production of carpet manufacturing in the United States — offers Carpeting 101.
First, boat carpet can be separated into two categories, Cut and Loop.
Cut, aka Cut Pile, is a carpet where the fibers are looped through the primary and cut on the “face” side during the manufacturing process. This allows the fibers to bloom out and give a clean, uniform look. This type of carpet is used primarily in fishing boat and runabouts.
Loop, aka Loop Pile, is a carpet where the fibers are looped through the primary and the tops of the fibers are both cut and looped on the face side during the manufacturing process. By doing this, the manufacturer is able to give the carpet a “sculptured” or designed look. This carpet is used primarily in pontoons.
In both instances, the best way to compare the two of the same carpets within these families is by comparing the fiber used, face weight, and backing.
Most marine carpets are constructed with either Polypropylene (PP) or Polyester (PE) yarns. PP yarns resist moisture, mildew, water damage, staining, pilling, and shedding. While PE has better resiliency with colors and is 100% recyclable, its tendency to shed and relatively higher costs make PP yarn the yarn of choice for most marine carpet manufacturers.
The face weight of carpet is defined as the amount of fiber in ounces in one square yard of carpet. To make the best comparison, do not include the weight of the backing nor do you include the weight of the primary. The face weight is controlled by three factors, pile height, gauge, and stitch rate. Pile height is very simply, the thickness of the carpet. The gauge is the distance between the lines of tufts in a carpet. This number is usually provided in inches, 1/8”, 3/16”, etc. The stitch rate is the rate at which the fibers are woven into the primary in a given length, usually 3 inches. It should be noted that you must use all three when comparing carpets. However, a given rule of thumb, the higher the face weight, the less likely the carpet will “flatten” out.
Carpet backing is primarily designed to lock the fibers into the carpet and provide a “backbone” for the carpet. Depending on the application, all marine carpets will either have a lightweight (LW) or heavy weight (HW) rubber or vinyl compound applied to the back. LW backings are used when you will be gluing the carpet down to the floor of the boat. In these applications, you will want your carpet to be very pliable and be able to fold it around corners. The HW backing is used for “snap-in” applications where the carpet will be cut and bounded around the edges. The carpet may have snaps installed into and can be pulled out for storage and cleaning purposes. It is usually much stiffer than LW backing.
While marine carpet is designed to be used outdoors, it is suggested that you protect it from the elements whenever possible.
Over time, sunlight will fade the color of the carpet. Keeping it out of the sunlight when not in use, will reduce fading and keep the yarn fibers from drying out.
As with sunlight, too much rain can cause irreparable damage to marine carpet. Allowing water to remain in your boat for long periods of time will break down the backing and cause delamination or separation of carpet from the floor of the boat. Also, using a pressure washer to clean your carpet is not suggested at the sheer force of the water can tear the carpet.
Due to the inherent nature of marine yarns, a water/bleach mixture of 50/50 can be used to clean most marine carpets. You will want to use the mixture on a small area not seen to confirm any problems. Cleaning quickly and a moderation in applying the mixture and blotting with a dry towel is your best course of action on any stains. It is also recommended that you vacuum the carpet in your boat after every use to help the fibers remain standing.
When to Replace
Depending on your climate and location and how you store your boat, over time, your carpet will begin to show its age. The yarn will begin to fade or in some cases start to fall out of your carpet. The backing may break down over time and separate from the floor of the boat and along edges of lids and stairs. Once these start to happen, unfortunately, it is time to replace your carpet in your boat. Unfortunately, due to its inherent nature, marine carpet cannot be repaired.
Sparta Carpets is a family-owned and operated manufacturer of marine carpeting since 1981. For the products and services they provide or online retailers for your projects, visit www.spartacarpets.com.