Flooring university Department of Carpet

All About Carpet

Cartoon diagram of How Carpeting is Put Together

What is Carpet?

​Carpet is a soft flooring made from densely packed rows of twisted yarn. The visible surface of these rows of yarn are called pile (also called nap or face). The yarn is tufted (inserted by needle) through a backing, which then holds the yarn in place.

Pile can be either cut or uncut (looped). We’ll discuss this later when we talk about carpet styles.

Quick Definitions

The Ins and Outs of Pile

Pile height (or nap) – the length of the pile as measured from the primary carpet backing to the tip of the yarns. Pile height is usually represented by a fraction (but can also appear as a decimal equivalent).

Face-weight – the weight, in ounces, of the fiber per square yard of carpet pile (face-weight does not include the weight of the backing).

Pile density – how tightly (or densely) the pile has been packed together and attached to the backing. The term is used primarily for commercial grade carpets. * Extra Credit: carpets with higher pile density ratings are more durable and retain a like-new appearance for longer than carpets with lower pile density ratings.

Twist Count – the number times single yarns wrap around one another in a given length of yarn. * Extra Credit: A higher number of twists per inch generally leads to a more durable carpet.

What is My Carpet Made Of?

Carpet yarn can be made from a number of different fibers. While most fibers used in carpet today are synthetic, some are still made from natural fibers, like wool. Below are the 5 most common types of fiber.


From the coat of sheep, was the original fiber used in carpet. It cleans and ages well. However, it is more expensive than today’s synthetic fibers, which has led to a decline in the use of wool in carpets.


(also referred to as Olefin) is another synthetic fiber that is the second-most commonly used fiber (after nylon). Like polyester, it is naturally stain and fade resistant.


is a common fiber used for carpet because of its color clarity and bulkiness. Additionally, it has excellent resistance to both staining and fading.


is a polymer that was originally classified as a polyester produced solely byDuPont under the Sorona™ brand name. It offers superior stain resistance alongside durability. It is also more environmentally friendly version than traditional polyesters because it is made using corn glucose, a rapidly renewable resource.


the most durable synthetic fiber on the market today, is currently the most commonly used fiber for carpeting. Nylon rose in popularity due to the durability it offers and the fact that it retains its appearance for longer than many other fibers. There are two kinds of nylon used in carpet – Nylon 6 and Nylon 6,6.

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Different Styles of Carpet?

The three main categories of carpet styles are separated by whether or not the yarn/fiber has been cut. Loop carpets (or loop pile carpets) are made with uncut yarn/fiber. Cut pile carpets are made with yarn/fiber that has been cut into a single surface pile. Carpets that use both cut and uncut yarn/fiber are referred to as loop-cut-loop (LCL) pile (or cut-and-loop pile).

cartoon diagram of loop carpet

Loop Pile

Loop pile carpet is low profile and has no exposed yarn tips. This allows for better wear in busy spaces, making loop pile carpet a smart choice for commercial use as well as high-traffic areas in the home.

cartoon diagram of berber carpet


Berber is a common loop pile carpet which is known for its color flecks and usually made from olefin fiber.

cartoon diagram of cable shag carpet

Cable or Shag

Cable (also called shag) is low density but uses thicker, longer yarn for a high pile height. Better suited for low-traffic spaces, cable can be difficult to care for and is susceptible to matting and crushing under heavy use.

Cut pile carpet has
a soft, cushiony feel.

Cartoon diagram of plush carpet


Plush (also called textured carpet) is the most popular and has the most formal appearance of the cut pile options. Plush carpets can appear to have darker or lighter shades in areas that have been brushed in opposite directions and, because of this, footprints and vacuum cleaner marks tend to show more visibly.

cartoon diagram of frieze carpet


Frieze is a style of cut pile carpet with a very high twist level, which causes the yarn tufts to curl back upon themselves, resulting in a “nubby” appearance and offering superior resilience. It is very durable and the multi-color friezes tend to hide more footprints and vacuum cleaner marks than other cut pile carpets.

Cartoon Diagram of saxony carpet


Saxony carpet is very similar to plush. However, it is slightly more formal with finer yarns. Like plush, this style is better suited to low-traffic areas as it is prone to show footprints and direction changes more visibly than traditional plush carpets.

cartoon diagram of loop-cut-loop carpet

Loop-Cut-Loop (LCL)

Loop-cut-loop (LCL) (or cut-and-loop) carpet uses cut and uncut yarn to create more depth in appearance. The cut and uncut pile heights may or may not be the same. The combination of the two types of yarn also help disguise both wear and dirt, making LCL carpet another great choice for heavy-use spaces. It is often considered a good choice for casual areas.

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Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Carpet

cartoon diagram of carpet pad between carpet and subfloor

What sort of preventive maintenance can I use to keep my carpet looking its best?

Place walk-off mats at all entrances to the home to absorb soil and moisture. Clean walk-off mats regularly to ensure that the soil they trap doesn’t end up tracking into your home.

Choose a quality carpet cushion (also called carpet pad) to provide resilience and extend the life of your carpet.

Refresh your space and help save your carpet by occasionally relocating heavy furniture. Use carpet-friendly coasters under the legs of furniture to prevent pile crushing. Avoid furniture with rollers or casters.

When moving heavy wheeled furniture, protect carpet with a barrier of plywood or heavy cardboard.

If you use area rugs over your carpet, remove and clean the rugs regularly. At that time, also clean the carpet in that area and try to restore the pile. Always wait for rugs and/or carpet to dry completely before replacing rugs onto the carpet.

Do any carpets offer enhanced stain or soil protectants?

StainMaster PetProtect carpet is made from a special solution dyed Nylon 6,6 polymer that was engineered to provide enhanced stain resistance.

SmartStrand Forever Clean carpet uses Nanoloc™ spill and soil shield for quick and easy cleanup as well as 0% moisture absorption. The built-in stain protection is guaranteed for the lifetime of the carpet.

Mohawk EverStrand, Wear-Dated and PermaStrand carpets are treated with Scotchgard protector, which shields against stain and soiling using liquid-repelling technology.

Many Shaw carpets, like those in the LifeHappens and Anso Nylon collections, are protected by R2X Stain & Soil Resistance treatment. R2X protects the full fiber of the yarn, not just the surface, allowing for improved resistance against spills.

Beaulieu Bliss carpets are treated with Magic Fresh®, an environmentally friendly solution that prevents and tackles common household odors such as pet urine, food and cigarette smoke.

how to clean carpet with a vacuum

What is the best way to keep my carpet clean?

The best way to keep your carpet clean is to perform regular vacuuming with a quality vacuum.

Along with regular vacuuming, carpet should receive steam cleaning (also called hot water extraction system cleaning) every 12 to 18 months.

Although many carpets require professional carpet cleaning in order to retain their warranty, DIY systems are available.

How Should I Handle Accidental Soiling and Staining?

First, it’s important to know the difference between soiling and staining.

Soiling occurs when dust, dirt or debris attach to the carpet surface.

Staining occurs when a substance has come into contact with the carpet and embedded itself in the fibers.

Steps to take when you see a spill occur:

If the spill is:

Water Soluble Spills

Absorb as much of the spill as possible with white towels. Blot – do not rub – the area with clean white towels dampened with cool water until the spilled item no longer transfers to the towels.

Oil-Based Spills

Blot – do not rub – as much of the spill as possible with white paper towels. Apply an oil and grease spot remover to a clean paper towel and continue blotting.

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