Latex is used as an adhesive material in the construction of many area carpets to anchor tufts to the back of a carpet, give additional weight to a carpet, and to hold the backing onto a rug.
Latex starts to deteriorate and decay as soon as it is put into service. The breakdown is caused by gases in the air, foot traffic, sunlight and other environmental factors. Latex is a complex mixture containing many chemicals that affect its ability to wear and its cost. Some chemicals are added to slow down the rate of breakdown and other chemicals are added to reduce cost. These latter ‘fillers’ take up space but add no adhesive qualities. Increased use of this material reduces the adhesive power of latex, causing an earlier breakdown and separation of the backing from the rug.
Breakdown will not take place evenly but will appear in some areas in the form of bubbles or separation. Often it is more apparent along rug edges that are more exposed to gases in the air.
Unfortunately, latex decay is accompanied by an unpleasant odor that cannot be removed by area rug cleaning or any other process including disinfecting or ozone treatment.