Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (2022)

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Joseph Lewitin

Joseph Lewitin

Joseph Lewitin is a flooring expert who grew up in the industry. In his youth, he began working in his family's tile import business, learning every aspect of the flooring industry, from design and fabrication to maintenance and repair. He also owned a flooring materials store specializing in natural stone floors.

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Updated on 03/22/22

Fact checked by

Sarah Scott

Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (1)

Fact checked bySarah Scott

Sarah Scott is a fact-checker and researcher who has worked in the custom home building industry in sales, marketing, and design.

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Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (2)

(Video) Most Important Factors to Consider When Choosing New Carpet

The main appeal of carpet as a flooring material is its ability to provide a cushiony, warm surface underfoot. Two characteristics of carpet are primary considerations when choosing a carpet: the type of natural or synthetic fiber used in the construction, and the pile—how the loops of fiber are attached to the carpet backing. These characteristics determine the comfort of the carpet, how it feels underfoot, and its wear characteristics.

There are many types of fiber used in carpet, but the most common are nylon, polyester, polypropylene, acrylic, and wool. Carpets are made by looping the fiber yarns through the backing material in a manner similar to how a button is sewed onto a shirt. These loops of fiber can then be left either intact, or cut at various angles and lengths. How the fiber loops are treated is known as the carpet pile.

Here are the common carpet fibers and pile options to consider.

  • 01 of 12

    Nylon

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (3)

    Nylon is very soft, durable, and resistant to stainsand abrasion. It is the most popular of carpet fibers by a large measure—by some estimates, about two-thirds of all synthetic carpets are made of nylon. It has good resistance to wear, mold, mildew, and rot, and it is easy to dye and holds its color well. It is usually affordably priced—less expensive than wool but more expensive than other synthetics. These carpets, if cared for well, can last 12 to 15 years, making it the most durable of the synthetic fibers.

  • 02 of 12

    Polypropylene (Olefin)

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (4)

    Polypropylene is another popular carpet fiber, used in commercial applications and in growing numbers of residential settings, and is almost as soft as nylon. Also known as olefin, polypropylene fibers are similar to natural wool and are often used as a synthetic wool substitute. This fiber is highly stain-resistant but is prone to soiling and holding onto oils which in turn, collect dirt. It is, however, relatively easy to clean—bleach can even be used in some cases. Polypropylene is not as resilient as nylon, so is therefore commonly used for loop-style carpets, such as berbers.The cost of polypropylene is slightly less than most nylon carpets, but more than polyester and acrylic.

  • 03 of 12

    Polyester

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (5)

    Polyester is prized for its ability to hold vibrant, fade-resistantcolors. Because it is man-made, the fiber is also more hypoallergenic than some others. One type of polyester carpet, known as polyester/PET, is made from recycled plastic bottles, making it eco-friendly. Its main drawback is that polyester is prone to flattening under weight, making it a bad choice for high-traffic areas. It can also be prone to oil stains, which are very hard to remove from polyester fiber.

  • 04 of 12

    Acrylic

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (6)

    (Video) How To Select The Right Carpet For Your Home

    Sometimes marketed as "synthetic wool" because it offers the feel and appearance of wool at a fraction of the price, acrylic has good resistance to static electricity, moisture, mildew, fading, and staining. But it is not a very durable material, and it doesn't hold up well in high-traffic areas. It is sometimes blended with wool. Acrylics can sometimes turn brown if stained with certain alkaline chemicals, such as those found in cleaning products.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.

  • 05 of 12

    Wool

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (7)

    Wool, a natural, luxurious, long-lasting material, is the softest carpet fiber you can find. Unfortunately, low-grade wool is more susceptible to staining, while high-grade wool is extremely expensive. Some manufacturers combine wool with synthetic fibers to create a carpet with the benefits of both. Wool/acrylic blends are especially common.

    Pure wool carpet is made with no chemicals or additives, which makes it an excellent choice for those with allergies or sensitivities to chemicals. But as a natural material, wool can be prone to damage from mold and mildew, which feed on organic substances. Wool is therefore not a good choice for areas where high humidity and moisture are an issue.

  • 06 of 12

    Loop Pile

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (8)

    Also known as "uncut pile" or "Berber pile" (named for a particular type of knotted pile used in North Africa), loop pile leaves the entire yarn loop intact on the surface of the piece. These carpets tend to be highly durable, easy to clean, and resistant to stains, making them perfect for high-traffic commercial applications or high-traffic family areas, such as recreation rooms. Loop pile carpets also don't show indentations caused by footprints and vacuum marks.

    Loop pile carpet comes in variations, such as level loop, where the fiber loops are all the same length, and patterned loops, where the loops are different heights. It is also possible for a carpet to have cut-and-loop construction, where some fibers are cut and others are looped.

    A particular type of loop-pile carpeting is the sisal carpet, in which loops of different colors, and sometimes different heights, are arranged in rows, to produce a textured, patterned surface.

    • Caution: The loops of uncut pile are not only less soft and padded than cut-pile fibers, but experts warn how they can also be a snagging hazard, particularly for pets or small children.
  • 07 of 12

    Cut Pile

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (9)

    Cut pile is a style of carpet where the exposed fibers are sheared off. This typically produces soft, inviting, easy-to-clean carpets. Different styles can be created by changing the angle of the shearing that slices the loop, or by using different treatments on the thread before and after it is inserted into the backing. Cut pile comes in different lengths and thicknesses, and these carpets work well when an entire house is carpeted, as it blends well from room to room.

    On the downside, cut pile makes it easier to see footmarks and vacuum trails. This tendency can be reduced by the twist of the fibers. The individual fibers contain a twist that helps the carpet stand up against matting and crushing. The heavier the twist, the more resistant the carpet will be to matting. Heavy twist also helps create texture that hides wear and dirt.

    Although much more popular than loop-pile carpet, cut-pile carpets are not as durable and will need to be replaced more often. They come in several variations, including shag carpet, a term which refers to a deep pile carpet featuring long-haired fibers that are soft to touch. Shag carpet is now relatively rare, but other specialty cut-pile forms (described below) are quite popular and used for particular effects.

  • 08 of 12

    Saxony Cut

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (10)

    The term Saxony pile refers to a particular type of cut-pile carpet with fibers that are very soft and dense. The relatively short fibers stand straight up and down to create a lush, fuzzy surface. The drawback to this style is that those strands are easily crushed down by feet and vacuum cleaners, leaving impressions on its surface. It is also susceptible to wear-and-tear, as well as staining, making Saxony carpets a floor treatment best suited for use in low-traffic areas, such as formal living rooms or dens. They are also somewhat more expensive than traditional cut-pile carpets.

    (Video) Buying a new carpet

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.

  • 09 of 12

    Plush Pile

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (11)

    Sometimes called velvet-cut pile, this style is a variation of cut pile in which the fibers are even shorter than with a Saxony cut and very densely packed, which creates a rich and luxurious carpet surface. Unfortunately, this carpet style is fairly temperamental. Prone to wearing down, scuffing, and showing footprints, velvet carpet pile should only be used in luxurious, low-traffic settings.

  • 10 of 12

    Textured Cut

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (12)

    The term textured-cut pile refers to a form of cut-pile carpet in which the fibers are of uneven lengths. They are also twisted into spiral strands using a special steam treatment that curls the individual strands so that they remain kinked. This style is also called "trackless" because it doesn't show footprints and other marks on its surface as do other cut piles, such as Saxony. The spiral strands do not reflect light as much as straight strands, so it's not as noticeable when spirals are crushed down. This pile is suitable for mid- to high-level traffic areas.

  • 11 of 12

    Frieze-Cut Pile

    The term frieze-cut pile refers to a carpet in which relatively long cut fibers are twisted together and kinked, causing them to curl erratically across the surface of the carpet. (This style is sometimes known as California shag.) This highly durable style tends to hide dirt and wear and is suitable for high-traffic and commercial settings.

  • 12 of 12

    Sculpted Pile

    Know Your Carpet Fibers and Piles Before Choosing New Carpet (14)

    A sculptured carpet has both looped and cut-pile fibers, which creates height and texture variations in the surface of the carpet. These carpets are sometimes known as cut-and-loop or patterned carpets. The different fiber cuts are sometimes arranged in geometric patterns, giving the carpet a three-dimensional texture. The different fiber cuts can all be the same length (level cut-and-loop), or they can be at different heights (textured cut-and-loop).

    (Video) Identifying Carpet Types / Choosing The Right Carpet

Article Sources

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Material Guide - Carpet. National Floor Coverings Association.

  2. Facility-Specific Considerations. Carpet and Rug Institute.

  3. Protectors for Oleophilic Fibers. Restoration Industry Association.

  4. The Best Carpeting Options for People With Allergies. Floor Coverings International.

  5. Nastasi, Nicholas et al. Morphology and Quantification of Fungal Growth in Residential Dust and Carpets. Building and Environment, vol. 174, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.106774

Featured Video

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(Video) What Carpet Fibers Mean (Part 1)

FAQs

How do I know what pile your carpet is? ›

Carpet pile refers to the loops of fabric within a carpet. Low pile carpets have tight loops of fabric and shorter fibers, while deep pile carpets, also known as high pile carpets, have longer, taller fibers.

What should I look for when buying new carpet? ›

7 Things to Consider When Buying Carpet for Your Home
  • Evaluate Your Budget. ...
  • Consider How You Use the Space. ...
  • Pay Attention to What You Want the Flooring to Do. ...
  • Consider the Maintenance Requirements. ...
  • Don't Forget the Padding. ...
  • Understand Your Warranty. ...
  • Talk With Your Installer.
9 Oct 2020

How can you tell good quality carpet? ›

The higher the number, the more durable the carpet. A density rating of 2,000 or more. Density is determined by the thickness of the fibers and how tightly packed they are. The thicker and heavier they are, the better quality the carpet and the less susceptible to crushing.

What fiber of carpet is best? ›

NYLON CARPET FIBER

Nylon is a synthetic carpet fiber, and it is the number ONE choice for both residential and commercial carpet! Although nylon is the strongest (most durable) of all carpet fibers, it can still feel very soft underfoot!

What is a good pile weight for carpet? ›

Weight. Generally, the heavier the weight of a carpet, the greater resistance it has to flattening or compression from traffic and furniture. A 40oz or 50oz carpet for example is ideal for hall, stairs, landings, and living areas. Whereas a 30oz carpet is spot on for bedrooms.

What is a good carpet pile height? ›

While rug or carpet pile heights vary, they typically fall into three categories: low (less than ¼ inch), medium (¼ to ½ inch), and high (½ to ¾ inch). Piles longer than ¾ inch aren't quite as common. These types are usually designated as “plush” pile height because the longer the pile gets, the softer the rug feels.

Is higher density carpet better? ›

However, all other things being equal, the higher the carpet density, the more durable the carpet will be, and the more pleasing it will be underfoot. Just as a lawn is more luxuriant if the grasses are thick underfoot, a carpet with higher pile density will feel plusher and will hold up better with wear.

What type of carpet is the most durable? ›

Nylon is the most durable and stain resistant carpet fiber available, when treated with stain protection. It is the fiber of choice for homes with pets and children and for those who entertain a lot. Because of it's durability, nylon carpet is perfect for heavy foot traffic areas like hallways and stairs.

Should carpet be lighter or darker than walls? ›

Considering Wall Color

Your wall color should be two tones lighter than your carpet. If you have dark walls, you can also go a few tones lighter with your carpet. Since it's much easier to change your wall color than your carpet, choose your carpet color first and then match your wall color.

What is the top grade of carpet? ›

With high-end carpet grades you can expect:

The best quality fiber, are usually Stainmaster nylon 6.6 or wool. These are made very well, easier to clean, more resilient, resist fading, better color choices, more durable, more styles to choose from, etc. You always get a much better backing system.

How much is a good grade of carpet? ›

Density is also displayed as a number, and anything above 3,000 is good quality, with some top carpets rated at 7,000 or more.

How much should good carpet cost? ›

On average, carpet costs $2.50 per square foot, and that price can range between $0.65 and $12 per square foot, or around $10 per square yard. The price can vary depending on the material, weave and pile style.

What are the 3 basic styles of carpet? ›

There are three basic styles of carpet – cut pile, looped pile, and cut-loop pile. Find out how flooring companies differentiate between the three and what they recommend for your home or office.

What are the 6 types of carpeting? ›

The six types of carpet are textured, plush, frieze, cable, Berber, and cut-and-loop. Each type has its own look and performance conditions.

What is the best type of carpet for a living room? ›

Wool is often considered the best choice for a living room carpet. Its hardwearing qualities – and softness underfoot – make it resistant to being compressed by furniture and footsteps. If you are after extra durability, then look no further than a blend of 80% wool with 20% nylon or other fibres such as polypropylene.

Does face weight matter in carpet? ›

Face weight is measured as the weight in ounces of the carpet pile per square yard of carpet. A higher face weight can very well indicate a higher quality carpet, but it's safer to use that as one standard in addition to tuft twist, fiber type, pile height and pile density.

Is nylon carpet better than polyester carpet? ›

When it comes to stain resistance, polyester comes out ahead of nylon. Polyester is a hydrophobic fiber, which means that the fiber itself repels liquid. By contrast, nylon is very absorbent, so it soaks in liquid and therefore spills. All residential carpets on the market today feature some stain protection.

Is 35 oz carpet good? ›

You want at least a 35 ounce face weight carpet for maximum durability. Depending on other features of your carpet, a lower or higher face weight may be required. Factors that may affect the minimum face weight needed are how often the room is used, the carpet's twist level, and the carpet's density.

Is low pile or high pile carpet better? ›

We like to use medium-to-high pile rugs in living rooms and bedrooms, where we want things to feel more cozy. Higher pile rugs work better on carpet than low pile rugs. These rugs are known for their comfortable, warm, and luxurious feel. A high pile-rug will show indentations from furniture legs more than a low pile.

Is low pile carpet better? ›

Low pile carpets have a smoother surface as compared other varieties and this leads to easier maintenance. Your vacuum cleaner will be more effective and efficient as the short length of the fibers allow for less of a place of dirt and grime to hide. The tight weave prevents from staining to occur as often.

How do you maintain high pile carpet? ›

Here's how.
  1. Keep things moving. Have you ever moved an item of furniture after it has sat on thick carpet for a long time? ...
  2. Vacuum regularly. ...
  3. Use a vacuum with a motorised brushroll. ...
  4. Spread the weight. ...
  5. Steam clean your carpet regularly. ...
  6. Use ice. ...
  7. Introduce protective barriers.
15 Jul 2019

How often should I replace my carpet? ›

While carpet has changed over the years, today, its lifespan is usually anywhere from 5 to 15 years. The length of time that a specific carpet lasts depends on the type of carpet, carpet cushion, carpet fibers, and wear and tear the carpet is exposed to.

What ounce carpet is good? ›

"A higher face weight means more yarn," says Grable, "And more yarn makes for a longer-lasting product." As an example, within one product line the "good-level" carpet has a face weight of 40 oz.; the "best-level" weighs in at 63 oz.

What is a good density for nylon carpet? ›

If you're installing in a commercial location, it's recommended that you look for density of 5,000 or higher to ensure a long life. If you decide to install a carpet with higher density, it will impact wearability.

In what rooms is carpeting a poor choice? ›

The best rooms to carpet are bedrooms and playrooms. Family rooms, hallways and stairways can also benefit from carpeting but these high traffic areas will suffer more wear on the carpet over time. As a rule, entry rooms and rooms most likely to see high traffic or lots of messes should not be carpeted.

What is the most luxurious type of carpet? ›

Velvet piles - This type of carpet is arguably the most luxurious looking of the bunch. It has a smooth and almost suede-like appearance. Aesthetically, it differs greatly from a twist pile. In terms of other qualities, however, there's not much difference between a velvet pile and a twist pile.

What style of carpet is in for 2021? ›

Neutral Carpet Colors

Timeless, classic, and always in style, carpet colors in shades of gray, beige, and nude are sure to be top choices this year.

What color carpet is most popular? ›

Current trends favor neutrals in earthy hues, including warm grays and the ever-popular beige. Neutrals don't have to be boring. To make sure your carpet still has personality despite the neutral color, opt for texture in the carpet.

What color carpet is popular in 2021? ›

The 10 most popular carpet colours of 2021 were:

White: 12,680 monthly searches. Green: 11,780 monthly searches. Brown: 10,190 monthly searches. Beige: 7,690 monthly searches.

Is wall to wall carpet outdated? ›

And apparently, wall-to-wall carpeting isn't the daunting and complicated task it one was. The same reason that made it outdated has now made it accessible: technology.

What type of carpet do builders use? ›

A carpet is considered to be a Builder Carpet when it is neutral in color, on the lighter side in ounce weight, and does not show traffic patterns in the early period of it's installation. Often, a builder will choose a polyester carpet because of the low price point for this type of fiber.

How much does high end carpet cost? ›

High-Quality (Luxury) Carpets

The carpet pricing in this range starts around $35 per square yard. These are the best of the best in the carpet world, and they guarantee to provide the ultimate comfort, luxury, and warmth to your home. Made of high-quality materials, they do justify the high price.

What are the different levels of carpet? ›

Carpet will typically be classified as low pile carpet, medium pile carpet or high pile carpet. Low pile carpet has short fibers that look and feel flat and dense.

What is considered cheap carpet? ›

Look at Fibers

Wool tops the list at $10 per square foot, Triexta typically runs $4 per square foot while nylon checks in at $2.50 a square foot, polyester is $2 per square foot and Olefin is the cheapest carpet option at $1.50 per square foot.

How much does it cost to carpet a 12x12 room? ›

The average cost to carpet a 12x12 bedroom is $250 to $1,100 total or $2 to $8 per square foot to install. Recarpeting with plush, frieze, or wool carpet adds more comfort and insulation to bedrooms.

How can I save money on carpet? ›

  1. 7 Tips for Saving Money when Buying New Carpets on a Budget. ...
  2. Wait for fall carpet promotions before buying from a retailer. ...
  3. Only buy the quality levels you need for each part of your home. ...
  4. Don't buy a more expensive fiber than you actually need. ...
  5. Leave carpet installation to the pros. ...
  6. 6 & 7.
21 Dec 2017

How much does it cost to carpet 3 rooms? ›

How much does it cost to carpet three bedrooms? The total cost to carpet three bedrooms measuring an average 500-square-foot area runs from $1,750 to $5,500. Actual estimates vary based on room dimensions.

How much does it cost to carpet 4 rooms? ›

Although pricing for this task varies significantly, on average, you can expect to pay $7 to $12 per square foot or $63 to $108 per square yard. In this case, a space measuring 10 feet by 14 feet will cost between $980 and $1,680. Homeowners typically carpet three to four rooms at once.

Which carpet fiber is the most stain resistant? ›

Nylon Carpet's Stain Resistance

In fact, once treated, nylon carpets are among the best stain-resistant carpets—especially carpets that use 6,6 nylon (rather than 6,0 nylon). This means that many of the top carpet companies use nylon in their stain-proof carpet products.

What is the most durable stain resistant carpet? ›

Which carpet is right for you? We consider Stainmaster Nylon to be the strongest fiber on the market and it is the most durable. Nylon will look better for longer and not pack down as easily. High quality wool carpets are also very durable however they tend to be considerably more expensive and can stain easier.

What is a durable carpet? ›

Nylon is a common carpet fiber that is incredibly durable and versatile, which makes nylon carpet a great fiber choice for many areas of the home. One of the reasons for this is because nylon offers excellent resilience, so it's able to keep its appearance for longer than other options.

What type of carpet is the softest? ›

Wool. Wool, a natural, luxurious, long-lasting material, is the softest carpet fiber you can find.

What is the best Colour carpet for a living room? ›

As a general guide, neutral carpets work best in modest-sized living rooms, as pale colours make the space seem larger. You can make a spacious living room feel cosy and inviting by fitting a dark carpet. Reds and browns work particularly well.

Should carpet be the same throughout the house? ›

There is absolutely no need to change flooring from room to room. We often work with homeowners who feel the urge to pick a different flooring for every room of their home, but there is absolutely no need to do this.

What is the easiest carpet to clean? ›

Nylon – Nylon is considered one of the most durable of all carpeting materials and the easiest to keep clean.

Do I have low or high pile carpet? ›

If a carpet is called a "high pile," it means the fibers are tall and loose like a shag carpet, which is a well-known high-pile carpet option. On the other hand, low-pile carpeting has shorter carpet fibers and tighter loops.

What are the different types of carpet piles? ›

The types of carpet pile explained
  • Tufted carpets.
  • Woven carpets.
  • Loop pile carpets.
  • Berber loop pile carpets.
  • Bonded carpets.
  • Cut pile carpets.
  • Frieze carpets.
  • Saxony pile carpets.
12 Feb 2021

Do I have low pile carpet? ›

Low pile carpet has shorter and tighter loops, while high pile carpet has taller and looser loops.

What are the 3 basic styles of carpet? ›

There are three basic styles of carpet – cut pile, looped pile, and cut-loop pile. Find out how flooring companies differentiate between the three and what they recommend for your home or office.

What type of carpet is the most durable? ›

Nylon is the most durable and stain resistant carpet fiber available, when treated with stain protection. It is the fiber of choice for homes with pets and children and for those who entertain a lot. Because of it's durability, nylon carpet is perfect for heavy foot traffic areas like hallways and stairs.

What style carpet is most popular? ›

What style carpet is most popular? Twisted pile carpet is the most popular style of carpet and comes in a large variety of colors. The yarn has been tightly twisted and the loops are cut to become this style of carpeting.

What is the best type of carpet for a living room? ›

Wool is often considered the best choice for a living room carpet. Its hardwearing qualities – and softness underfoot – make it resistant to being compressed by furniture and footsteps. If you are after extra durability, then look no further than a blend of 80% wool with 20% nylon or other fibres such as polypropylene.

What is a good carpet density? ›

For optimal performance in normal household conditions, a density value of 3,000 or higher is ideal. According to The Carpet and Rug Institute, Inc., extra heavy traffic conditions (such as are found in heavy commercial use) require a minimum density of 5,000.

What carpet does not go flat? ›

Perfect for a home with a busy family, polyamide carpets are easy to clean and stand up to high traffic. The fibres don't flatten easily and spring right back into shape, meaning your carpet will look good for longer.

What is the softest carpet? ›

Wool. Wool, a natural, luxurious, long-lasting material, is the softest carpet fiber you can find.

How long should carpet last? ›

While carpet has changed over the years, today, its lifespan is usually anywhere from 5 to 15 years. The length of time that a specific carpet lasts depends on the type of carpet, carpet cushion, carpet fibers, and wear and tear the carpet is exposed to.

Is Berber carpet considered low pile? ›

Berber carpet is a type of woven floor covering characterized by tightly looped fibers woven in parallel lines, creating a dense, low pile. This dense quality gives Berber carpet the reputation of durability and strength.

Videos

1. Choosing The Best Carpet Fiber
(HGExpo)
2. Carpet 101 - The Basics of Choosing Carpet
(Contract Furnishings Mart-CFM)
3. Types of Carpet Pile Recommended by Evolved Floors
(Evolved Floors)
4. The Fiber of Your Carpet Makes all the Difference
(Carpet Corner)
5. Getting Technical: Know Your Carpet Styles
(Andersens)
6. Interior Design Guide: Buying new carpet? What you need to know before going instore.
(Bremworth)

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