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This article appeared in Hotel Motel Magazine on September 3, 2001


Second chance

Hoteliers can lower refurbishment costs with renewed or redyed carpet

September 3, 2001
H&MM Associate Editor
Source:Hotel & Motel Management

Let's face it: There's not much in the marketplace to offer a hotelier for restoring uglied-out carpet. Hoteliers typically replace their fabric underfoot every five to seven years, depending on the quality of carpet and application.

Although carpet mills long have purported that an extensive, certified, routine cleaning system is the key to longer life, little has been developed to restore a downtrodden rug through dyeing or pattern redefinement.

But there are a few more options than in years past. New technologies and processes in dyeing and an increasing awareness of sustainable environmental practices has much of the carpet world figuring out ways to recycle, reuse and restore tattered tufts to prolong life, diminish costs and keep some material out of landfills.

Some of the country's mills have carpet recycling/rejuvenation programs, and some cleaning organizations can spot-dye bleach stains or discoloration. But at least one entrepreneur developed a dyeing system that allows hoteliers to restore carpet to its original splendor or a new color, said Connie D'Iamperio, franchisor and founder of Color Your Carpet.

Color Your Carpet developed a proprietary process that allows hoteliers potentially to double the life cycle of carpeting. The company uses transparent colors that blend with existing colors to create a new palate or restore the old one.
"In most hotels' franchise agreements is a mandate to remodel every five [years] to seven years, but the carpet lasts for 20 years, and the only thing that doesn't last is the color," she said. "We literally can address any issue-tufted or woven, as long as it's nylon or wool."

The Florida-based company uses a proprietary process that enables technicians to use transparent colors instead of opaque ones. The result is an applied dye, which blends with the existing carpet to create the desired color-lighter or darker, patterned or plain.

"The process is guaranteed colorfast for the life of the carpet; we use a true liquid dye that is water based, and you can walk on it in about 30 seconds," D'Iamperio said.

Although the push during the past decade has been to use less-expensive, lower-quality carpet because of the rapid replacement cycle, carpet dyeing is an opportunity to take care of a costly investment in high-quality nylon and wool rugs, she said.

"It is probably 50 percent technical skill and about 50 percent art, and not everyone can do it," said Tom Hill, executive administrator for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification.


IICRC was formed in 1972 to serve as an independent, nonprofit certification body to set and promote high standards and ethics; and to advance communication and technical proficiency within the carpet inspection, cleaning and restoration-service industry. The organization certifies individuals for color matching, restoration and spot dyeing.

"The color repair centers around spot dying, where a bleach spot or a color loss needs to be brought back into shape," Hill said. "If you have a multicolor pattern, then you have to treat each color separately, and in many cases, some of the colors are layers of multiple colors, so it's tedious and laborious, but it can be done."

But D'Imperio said it's not as much physical labor as it is training and analysis.

"It's not splash and dash; it's not a cookie cutter; it requires critical thinking," she said. "We can change color families, and we can go lighter. It's really an optical illusion if you understand how light is refracted. The rest of the industry is thinking in opaques, and our system is transparent. They have the propensity to work in transparents, but they don't have the research and training."

Some of the country's mills are paying more attention to social responsibility as it pertains to discarded carpet cluttering landfills. About 2 million tons of carpet end up in landfills in the United States annually, and about 70 percent of carpet that is replaced is discarded for reasons other than wear, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute.

The demand for more ecologically sound products prompted Milliken Carpets to launch its Earth Square program, which renews its modular carpet tiles.

"Companies have come to us and said, 'What can we do with this carpet instead of putting it in landfills?'" said Tracey Francis, marketing manager for Milliken.

Companies give Milliken the raw materials, which are put through a refurbishment process, are cleaned and then refinished on the face, Francis said.

"It goes through a tremendous amount of washing and cleaning, brushing and shearing so the face has a newer appearance," she said.

Because the tiles must be sent back to the mill for the process, which takes more than a week, many properties used the renewed product in different areas than it originally was used, such as taking ballroom carpet and reinstalling it in a corridor or meeting space.

  "It gets rid of the matting and the pilling, and a new pattern is put on it," Francis said. "You can put on a similar pattern if you want, but we try to make it a different product. A lot of our customers take it out of one area and put it in other areas, and a lot of our corporate clients donate it to schools, libraries and universities so they have the tax write-off and also keep it out of a landfill."

The refurbished carpet costs less than half the price of new tiles, and a property can save the amount of waste-removal costs that can burden a hotel during a propertywide refurbishment.

But many of the carpet mills are developing more sustainable programs. Mohawk Industries, which owns Durkan Carpets, is one of the largest plastic-bottle recyclers in the United States, said Steve Hillis, v.p. of sales and marketing for Durkan.

The new focus is on what companies are doing about energy reduction, air and water quality, Hillis said.

"So we've learned that there are issues other than keeping carpet out of a landfill," he said.

Mohawk converts plastic bottles into carpet fibers, but the process doesn't cost the end user more in the long run, Hillis said.

"For us, you don't pay a premium for recycled content, and that's a company commitment," he said. "As more is used, the price is coming down, but we don't pass the cost down to the consumer regardless."

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H&MM Associate Editor

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