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Choose Your Carpet Carefully

The following information will help you get familiar with carpet terms and definitions so you can make an educated decision on selecting your next carpet.

Pile Designs

There are several terms relating to the manufacturing process which need to be understood before we actually discuss carpet pile designs.

1. Gauge

The distance between the needles on a tufting machine. The gauge is expressed in fractions of an inch, and refers to the number of needles which are positioned across the width of the tufting machine.

2. Pitch

The distance between the stitches made by the needles (the distance which the backing material travels before the needle inserts the next tuft). Pitch is expressed in terms of the number of tufts per inch.

3. Density

The closeness of the pile yarns. Density refers to the closeness of the pile yarns, and is an indication of both gauge and pitch. It is measured by the number of ounces per yard. Generally, the higher the density, the better the quality of the carpet.

4. Face Weight

The weight, expressed in the number of ounces per yard of fiber extending above the primary backing.

These factors (gauge, pitch, density and face weight) all have direct effects upon each of the others. For instance, if the density increases with the pile height remaining the same, the face weight will increase. Or if the pile height increases with the density remaining the same, the face weight will increase. The rest of this information will be based on Cut-Pile designs (59% of the current market), Loop-Pile designs (28% of the market), and Cut and Loop-Pile combination designs (13% of the market).

Carpet Types

textured plush saxony carpet type berber cut-pile cut/loop


1. Saxony Pile

A saxony configuration will generally have a pile height of about three quarters of an inch. The main distinction of a saxony will be in the fact that the pile is made up of twisted, heat-set yarns with sufficient density to cause them to stand upright to foot traffic. Ninety percent of the expensive carpets made today are of the saxony pile.

2. Plush or Velvet

The plush design is dense enough to remain upright to normal traffic. The major distinguishing trait of a plush is that there is little or no twist set in the face yarns which comprise the pile. This introduces a smooth, uniform texture on the face of the plush or velvet carpet. This "velvet-plush" carpet can be sensitive to high temperatures in the cleaning solution, causing fiber distortion. Temperature settings should be turned down from the maximum settings.

3. Shag Pile

This design has almost disappeared from the current market, though since a number of shag carpets remain from the early seventies, it warrants some discussion. Generally, a shag carpet contains a pile height greater than one inch, but that pile height must be coupled with so little density as to create a casual, random-lay effect so that the sides of the yarns are exposed to the foot traffic rather than the tips which are exposed on most other carpet configurations.

4. Splush (short-shag or mini-shag)

This carpet is halfway between the shag and the plush. The pile height is usually about three quarters of an inch, with a density which is insufficient to cause the yarn ends to stand upright to foot traffic. Although the density is greater than that of a shag, the same "random lay" effect is still apparent.

5. Frieze(free-say)

This design is composed of very tightly twisted yarns that give a rough, nubby appearance. Grass-pile Grass-pile carpets are usually made of slit-film olefin which actually simulates grass. It comes in a variety of colors.

Loop-Pile Designs

1. Level Loop-Pile

This design consists of uniformly level tufts in an uncut or loop-pile configuration. Commercial quality carpet is often of the level-loop configuration with high density but low pile height.

2. Multi-Level Loop-Pile

This configuration is also known as "high-low" pile carpet. It is formed by increasing tension on the yarn during tufting, which forms patterns with high and low loops.

Cut & Loop Pile Designs

1. Sculptured Saxony

Sculptured saxony consists of higher, cut-pile yarns in the saxony tradition which are contrasted in texture by lower, loop-pile yarns which remain uncut.

2. Sculptured Shag

This design is similar to the sculptured Saxony though is composed of higher, less dense cut-pile yarns in a shag configuration, contrasted by lower loops which remain uncut.

3. Level Cut-loop

This technique is used to create a wide range of patterns using cut and loop piles of the same height.

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Fiber Types: Pros & Cons

There are many different types of fiber used to make carpet. In this section we are going to give you the PROS & CONS of the four most popular fibers, Nylon, Polyester, Olefin, and Wool.

Nylon: Pros

Nylon responds very well to most professional cleaning methods and treatments.

Nylon: Cons

Polyester's popularity seems to go up and down like a roller coaster. Because it's relatively inexpensive to produce, manufacturers are regularly reintroducing this fiber to the carpet industry. Although it has some excellent qualities, and is a great fiber for clothing, it does have some limiting factors when used in carpet.

Polyester: Pros

Polyester: Cons

Olefin is a very versatile carpet fiber. It is used in carpet backings (called polypropylene), face yarns and even astroturf. Olefin has become almost synonymous with one of its trade names "Herculon" a trademark owned by Hercules Corporation, a major manufacturer of olefin.

Olefin: Pros

Olefin: Cons

Wool: Pros

Wool: Cons

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