Modern carpet is different from historical handmade carpets which were hooked, braided, or woven on small looms. Because of the way carpet is manufactured, purchased, and cut, it needs to be bound in some way – both to keep it from coming apart at the edges and to make it look nice. This is where binding and serging play a role.
Where traditional carpets were and are a form of fabric craft and could be rolled tightly and moved, modern mass-produced carpet is made to stay put and look smooth and uniform. The backing on carpeting you buy by the foot is tough. In addition to the face yarn – the part you see and walk on – the reverse side of the carpet has a primary backing and then, potentially, a high performance pre-coating, a thermoplastic compound, fiberglass reinforcement, and another layer of thermoplastic compound. At the very least there’s a latex layer and a secondary backing. It’s supposed to help the carpet to lay there and lay flat until you don’t want it there any more and rip it up, and replace it.
The problem is that with carpeting being so stiff, binding it isn’t as easy as whip stitching the edge. You may be able to push a standard needle through the backing with pressure and patience, but you’re not going to be able to bind it by hand. This is why Bond Products offers a number of binding and serging solutions.
For the weekend DIYer, there’s Instabind. With a scissors, a hot glue gun, tape, and binding tape, you can glue on a professional looking binding for whatever smaller carpeting projects you want to tackle.
For carpet professionals we carry binding and serging equipment and all the supplies needed for these jobs, whether that isbinding tapes, serging yarn, thread, bobbins, or needles. But we still haven’t answered the original question: What is the difference between binding a carpet and serging it?
Professionally binding a carpet involves taking a fabric binding, folding it over the edge of the carpet and then sewing it to the carpet with a binding machine that looks similar to a traditional sewing machine. The width of the binding is usually 3/4 to 1-1/4 of an inch and generally the color of the binding is matched to the most noticeable color in the carpet itself.
Professionally serging a carpet involves continuously wrapping the edge of the carpet with yarn. This is similar to a traditional whip stitch except that the yarn on the edge is very close together and it’s done by machine. The width of the serging is traditionally ⅜ths of an inch, and the yarn is chosen to match the carpet as well.
Another option is the style and type. Bond now makes an 1-1/4 inch 100% cotton serging tape that is applied with a “binding machine.” It’s important to consider whether the piece of carpet you’re working with is synthetic or natural fiber. The general rule of thumb is to use natural fiber, usually cotton or wool, when the rug is natural and synthetic binding and serging, usually nylon or polyester, when the rug is synthetic.