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Carpet Color Fading

By Michael Hilton

Color Loss

Most carpet fibers will fade to some degree when placed into service. Sunlight, soils, heating gases and other environmental factors each affect carpet color to some degree. Some carpet fiber systems and/or dye systems may provide varying degrees of resistance to these outside influences. For more information on these carpet fibers and their performance characteristics, visit our carpet construction section, which highlights the properties of each fiber system.

In many instances, even with fiber systems which have diminished resistance to these environmental influences, secondary intervention steps can be taken to reduce the impact of these factors.

For example, a solution dyed fiber would be better suited for a sun room with southern exposure, but if a continuous dyed or beck dyed product is already in place or if color choices are too limited with solution dyed products, steps can be taken to limit direct sunlight. These steps may include the application of window tint or the installation of blinds to limit direct sunlight. It is important to understand the performance factors for each fiber or dye system so that corrective action can be considered prior to product damage.

Carpet fiber type has a significant impact on sunlight fading as well. Acrylic and polyester fibers each have superior resistance to nylon and wool fibers in regard to sunlight resistance. Polypropylene (olefin) is primarily a solution dyed fiber and has excellent resistance to color loss, but since solution dyeing is a process in which fiber pellets are melted into the finished color during fiber processing, rather than post dyed, color choices are extremely limited.

Ozone Fading - Ozone fading is actually quite rare with improved dyes and dye systems, but it can occur. Highly humid areas are subject to this occurrence. Ozone primarily attacks blue dyes and while your carpet may not be blue, blue is a primary color and is generally a part of most carpet color configurations. For more info on how colors originate see matching carpet color. Since blue and yellow are used to configure green, any chemical attaching blue dyes would leave a yellow.

Blue Color Loss - While all carpet colors are made from Red, Yellow, and blue, the loss of one of these colors made change the color of your carpet entirely. For example, if your carpet is green, green is comprised of mixing Blue and yellow. If blues dyes are destroyed, the carpet color will change from green to yellow, since yellow is the only remaining color. A yellowing complaint may result, but in essence the cause is a lack of blue dye. For more information on the resulting color of one of these three colors, visit our matching carpet color section. There are numerous causes for blue color loss including Ozone fading listed above. The entire carpet tuft is affected by ozone fading, rather than the top or bottom of the tuft.

Oxidizers, such as benzoyl peroxide (acne medication) may attack blue dyes as well. Typically in these fading instances, the tips of the tufts are affected rather than the entire tuft and the areas may appear as spots. In some cases, perfect hand prints can be seen if the oxidizer was transferred from a teenagers hand to the carpet.

Mild bleaches, perborates, and persulfates also may provide a spotty fading. These chemicals also fade from the top of the tuft downward. Diluted chlorine from swimming pools also attack blue dyes. In most cases these type of events cause a "path" from chlorines brought in on the soles of the feet.

Red Color Loss - Red dye color loss, also may come from a variety of sources, including sunlight. Sunlight fading generally occurs on the fiber tips first and move downward. If you suspect sunlight fading, look first at south or southwest facing windows or doors. Dilute Chlorine bleach also may cause red dye color loss. Areas usually occur as spots or streaks. Oxalic acid can produce the same result. These acids are often used in rust removal products.

Formaldehyde emission from wood products, such as cabinets, furniture, and even wood flooring can occur around these formaldehyde emitters. Organophosphate pesticides can also attack red dyes. These streaks can be found around baseboards or in other area commonly associated with pesticide treatment.

Blue and Red Color Loss - Another commonly occurring yellowing complaint. Strong bleaches including chlorine, benzoyl peroxide, skin medications, adhesive hardeners, strong oxidizers, permanganates, and mineral acids can attack both blue and red dyes. These areas may appear as a bright yellow center, with a pinkish halo.

Red Loss/Blue Gain - These are some of the most difficult fade complaints to isolate since color may be added.

Pesticides can cause this carpet color change, as well as plant foods. Plant foods may attack red dyes and add yellow and blue dyes. Medicated shampoos also have been known to create this color change. If you have ever had your hair turn blue (blue hair?) after a treatment . Your shampoo may have been the cause. Not that blue hair is any less attractive (to us old-timers), but it is not a look that most people strive for.

Red Gain - Red dye can be added by some chemicals, such as rust, copper and brass cleaners and iron chloride used in some electronic hobby chemicals.

Yellow Gain - Yellow dye can be added in BHT situations, nitrogen oxides, and optical brighteners used in some cleaning chemicals. Some soil and stain treatments (topical treatments) also may add yellow dye.

Soiling also may cause the addition of yellow dye to the fiber. These soils may include, cooking oils, detergent residue, anti-stat treatments, pesticides, soil resist treatments, and even dirt itself. See also yellowing.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

Other Helpful Links
Watermarking
Carpet Color Change
Carpet Color Fading
Carpet Dye Defects
Local Color Change
Filtration Soiling
Carpet Yellowing
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