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The Whats and Hows of Car Carpets


The Whats and Hows of Car Carpets

Buying a new car certainly has its benefits. You’re relieved of worry and expenses when any parts go wrong, until the expiration of the warranty. However, not everything is covered. Carpets for one aren’t, and though most of us don’t put much thought on the condition of the carpeting that separates drivers and passengers and a lot of metal, this can soon become an issue.

Having decent mats helps and they’re often pushed on us at the dealers, but any damage underneath is worrying. Rattling noises, excessive heat, rust pockets, dirt and grime buildup are signs of degrading car carpet and carpet underlay. 

How you use and maintain your car impacts both the mechanicals as well as the interior. If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, use your car for work, regularly do the school route, or have pets, then periodically checking up on the carpet won’t hurt. Anything less than passable needs to be ripped out and replaced with new carpeting.

In addition, anyone doing a car rebuild will need to think how to deaden sound and vibrations, maintain heat levels, and also protect the floor bed from accidentals spills or from water getting in. Two things to consider are the carpeting itself and the carpet underlay. There are different products on the market, depending on what you plan to do, and how that all looks in the end. 

Automotive Carpet 

car carpet

Here you have two options: stretch carpet and moulded carpet. The first type is better suited for areas that aren’t directly in contact with the seats. This includes the wheel arches, the roof, round the door panels and speakers, and in the boot floor. Stretch carpet gets its name in that it is flexible, easily cut to shape and applied, and comes in a range of sizes and colours to better match the interior of your vehicle. It can have an adhesive backer that sticks to the underlay or wall and roof lining, or can be simply sprayed and fitted.

For carpeting under the seats, look for moulded carpet or carpet roll. The quality car carpet roll is specifically cut to fit the floor pans and footwells of your particular make and model and as such requires minimal fitting. There are two types of moulded car carpet in terms of design. Older cars have carpeting in a loop pile design, which comes as a bit rougher to the touch. It consists of 80 percent rayon and 20 percent nylon, so it’s pretty durable, retains shape, and doesn’t fade in the Aussie sun. If you’re restoring an old-timer or classic, then this is the carpet to use to get that retro look.

For any car form the 1980s onwards, you’ll be wanting car carpet roll in a cut-pile design. It has a smoother texture and is easier on the skin. Materials vary here, from cheaper acrylic carpeting to plusher nylon or polypropylene (olefin). You can also find carpets in a combination of materials, though nylon seems to be the popular choice due to its high durability, resistance to heat, and liquids. It also doesn’t fade or stain as easily as other options. In addition, it retains its form over longer periods, much better than other carpets.

As mentioned, both loop and cut-pile car carpet rolls are tailor cut to fit the exact dimensions of the vehicle. If you’re buying online, specify your make, model and MY to get the right fit. Besides the choice of different materials, there also is a range of different colours. For increased safety, look for carpets with included rubber driver’s heel inserts. Installing is relatively straightforward, but you do have to make cuts for areas like the gear lever and seat rails. To ensure the best fit, get the carpet installed by a pro.  

Carpet Underlay 

Any type of new carpet needs an additional layer underneath, the carpet underlay. The purpose of the underlay is to serve as an insulation layer between you and the rest of the vehicle. It will absorb engine, exhaust and transmission vibrations, prevent heat in the cabin from reaching intolerable levels, and won’t let water, dust or chemicals through.

With the proper underlay installed you get a quieter and safer cabin. Another purpose is to provide the foundation for the carpet. Underlay has an adhesive to secure it to the floor bed, and a non-slip surface to accommodate the carpet on top.  

car carpet underlay
source: automotive-carpet

Types of Carpet Underlay 

Sound-deadening and insulation of vehicle floors is often done in stages and with different products. Here you can choose to add only a single layer of carpet underlay to keep the interior dry, cool, and quiet. This can consist of a butyl-based liner that is easily shaped to fit the outline of the floor.

If you need more dampening, say in a 4WD or ute, then you can add a mass vinyl underlay on top of this. It consists of a thinner vinyl top coating set on a thicker closed-cell foam layer. This is the stuff luxury car makers use to make cabins as quiet as possible. The benefit is that it not only deadens any sound, but won’t let in heat or water, won’t decompose like traditional underlay, and can be removed at any time.

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