Do It Yourself: Introduction To Types Of Carpet

Introduction will help you choose carpet by the way it is manufactured, rather than relying only on color and style.

There are many assorted carpet styles, each one having exclusive characteristics. The wide range of choices available today insures that there is a perfect option for every setting. Aside from the vast choice of rich, beautiful colors, every type has a unique construction, texture or pattern that will bring something special to your design plan.

Below is a list of common carpet types:


This kind of carpet is on the same order as loop pile carpets (below) except that it is made of lower quality materials. Indoor/outdoor carpet is inexpensive, so it is a good choice for commercial buildings, apartment buildings, or anywhere that carpet needs to be updated frequently.


Also known as level loop, this carpet is made of loops that are all the same height creating a smooth, uncut, level surface that resists footprints and vacuum marks (known as "tracking"). This carpet is great for casual rooms and high traffic areas. It is not as plush as some of the other choices, but it is just as durable. Loop is commonly used in homes and in more upscale commercial settings, such as offices.


Cut and loop or "Multi-level loop" carpets use cut and uncut loops of different heights to create pattern and texture. This type of carpet is available in different variations, and depending on the pattern and texture, this style can be used to compliment any décor. Cut and loop is luxurious carpet, and it is recommended for low traffic areas.


Berber is actually a loop pile carpet, but with much larger loops. These chunky loops create amazing texture and patterns which makes this style very popular for home décor. Today, most Berbers are constructed of olefin or olefin-nylon blend, rather than wool.


Also referred to as twist pile or hard twist, this carpet is made up of tightly twisted or curled yarn which creates texture. This is a very durable carpet that resists tracking because of its firm surface. The tighter the yarn is twisted, the more durable the carpet is. This carpet is very popular, because it is fairly informal and can be used with nearly any casual decorating style. Because of its exceptional durability, it is considered one of the best choices for high traffic areas.


Cable carpets have a more casual construction, using heavy, twisted yarns. This soft, thick carpet is perfect when comfort is the main concern, and it can be used to warm up even the most casual setting.


The name is reminiscent of natural grass-woven carpets, but today's sisals are made up of textured nylon or olefin loops and tufted tightly to create texture. While the look continues to grow in popularity, and is often used in contemporary settings, this style is chosen for its visual interest rather than for comfort.


This style generally shows tracking much like velvets do. Saxony is very soft despite the textured appearance. This texture is created by tightly twisting tufts of thick yarn but then smoothing them with heat. The thickness makes Saxony a warm, luxurious choice, but due to the effects of tracking, it is often chosen for use in low traffic areas.


More heavily textured, this type of Saxony shows far less tracking, making it more versatile and therefore a good, durable choice for any area of the home.


Far more stylish than some of the wilder shags of old, the new shags are perfect for today's decor. Using a variety of yarn weights and textures helps create a lush carpet that is not only soft and warm but also adds a unique sense of style to many different design plans.


Cut pile, also referred to as "plush," lives up to its name. This is a soft, lavish carpet that also happens to be extremely durable and stain resistant. It has a smooth surface that is created by cutting the tufts to one length. Because the pile can tilt in any direction, tracking or "shading" is noticeable with this carpet, but for some people that is one of its benefits.


Also called Smooth Velvet, this carpet is known for its richness. This very dense carpet is the most elegant, most luxurious carpet available and is the preferred style for formal settings. This type of carpet is cut several times, creating a lustrous, velvet-like patina which will show every mark or footprint. Tracking or "shading" can be seen as a benefit in some settings, and ultra lush carpets are sometimes gently brushed or raked to create a design on the surface. This design can be changed frequently, giving the carpet a new look for every occasion.

Most carpet today is manufactured through a process called tufting, rather than old fashioned weaving. Tufting is simply using a needle to hook the fiber into a ready made structure (the backing). The tufting is done at a high rate of speed, by machine. The fiber has to be processed (this is where the style, texture and pattern are determined), tufted, dyed, and finished (this is where the carpet is sheered and given a second backing). A finished carpet is then usually treated for stain resistance. Each carpet goes through the same basic steps of manufacturing, yet the differences in how the fibers are cut or twisted is what gives the carpet its unique texture and appearance. Knowing these differences and how they affect the look, feel, and durability, will help you choose the right carpet for any room.

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