Carpet Under Stress From Shrinkage


Shrinkage almost always occurs in carpet, both woven and tufted, that have natural backing materials. The cause of shrinkage is the natural swelling expansion of fibers which ocur as they absorb moisture. As these fibers absorb moisture, they become larger in diameter and require more space. This causes stress on the interwoven structure which results in shrinkage. Once the fabric is dry, this stress is no longer present as the fibers return to their natural size.

It is important to inspect a carpet and its installation prior to every cleaning job. Be extremely cautious of woven backings and make certain all installations are secure before cleaning.

Widthwise shirnkage in Axminster carpet, because of the jute stuffer yarn that runs widthwise, can be extremely difficult or impossible to restretch. Special adhesive seam tapes or sewn seams should be used when seaming Axminster carpets.

Polyproplene backings tend to shrink less or not at all when compared to jute backings.

Any evidence of shrinkage prior to cleaning should be brought to the customers attention and noted on the invoice.


Any repairs should be made prior to cleaning the carpet.

Never attempt to restretch a shrunken carpet until completely dry.

After the carpet is completely dry, standard power stretching techniques can be employed.

Delaminated or loose seams should be reseamed or repaired before restretching.

With the exception of Axminster carpets as noted above, most carpet shrinkages resulting from cleaning can be corrected.