Carpet 101


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.

How Carpeting is Put Together

What do I need to know about pile?

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

Pile height (or nap) refers to 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 is 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 gauges 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 describes 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.

Are all carpets made from the same kind of yarn?

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.

What fibers are used in carpet?

Wool, 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.

Nylon, 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.

* Extra Credit: StainMaster uses the specific type of Nylon called Nylon 6,6. Nylon 6,6 offers exceptional durability while staying clean and maintaining appearance for longer than other nylon options.

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

Triexta 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.

Polypropylene (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.

What about the 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).

Different types of carpet

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.

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

Cut pile carpet has a soft, cushiony feel.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What about color?

Carpets receive their color one of two ways, through carpet dyeing and solution dyeing.

Carpet Color Swatches

Carpet dyeing (also known as continuous dyeing, non-solution dyeing and beck dyeing) is when dye is applied to an assembled carpet face. The yarns have already been twisted and punched through backing. All wool, polyester, and most nylon carpets are colored using carpet dyeing.

* Extra Credit: carpet dyeing can provide richer colors, and a larger assortment of colors, than solution dyed options.

During Solution dyeing (also known as pre-dyeing and yarn dyeing) dye is applied to yarn components that have not yet been twisted or fabricated into carpet.

* Extra Credit: solution dyed carpets better resist fading and offer more consistent color than continuously dyed carpet.

Multi-color carpet is created by twisting together different colors of yarn. These carpets tend to hide dirt better than solid color carpets and thus are often used for more casual, high-traffic spaces.

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.


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.

carpet pad between carpet and subfloor

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.

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.

The best way to vacuum:

Areas that receive less traffic should be vacuumed in their entirety once a week, although the “traffic lanes” should be vacuumed twice weekly.

Higher traffic areas should be vacuumed twice weekly in their entirety, with the “traffic lanes” receiving daily vacuuming.

While lightly soiled areas can be successfully cleaned with two to three passes of a vacuum, it is recommended to perform five to seven passes on heavily soiled areas.

​Change direction while vacuuming to help pile stand upright. This will also help prevent matting.

how to clean carpet with a vacuum

The best vacuums to use:

For loop pile (cable and shag) carpets, a suction-only vacuum is best. The longer yarns of these styles of carpet can bind around rotating brushes, or be damaged by them.

For all other carpets, vacuums with a rotating brush, or a combination beater/brush bar work best for separating and moving pile in order to loosen and remove soil and dirt.

On vacuums with adjustable heights, make sure to use the correct height setting for the carpet being cleaned.

The beater/brush bar should be low enough to cause slight vibration in the carpet, but not so low as to slow the motor.

Consider purchasing a vacuum that is certified through the Carpet and Rug Institute Vacuum Cleaner Indoor Air Quality Program.

Along with regular vacuuming, carpet should receive steam cleaning (also called hot water extraction system cleaning) every 12 to 18 months. Despite the name, no steam is applied, or used, at any point in the process. A cleaning agent is applied to the carpet, then the agent and soil are extracted through the use of water. Steam cleaning should be performed by a professional.

Professional carpet cleaners will have the experience to provide a more efficient cleaning, and their equipment will be more powerful and sophisticated than those available to non-professionals.

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.

* Extra Credit: The residue left behind from a spill that wasn’t fully cleaned, using the wrong cleaner for the carpet or – on certain fibers – natural oils from bare feet can attract/encourage soiling.

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

There are a number of different products and procedures that can be used to treat soil and stains. The manufacturer of each carpet will provide the most effective instructions and tips for their own product. Additionally, many warranties will require treatment following the manufacturer’s guidelines. That said, you may find the following list of general suggestions helpful, as well.

Steps to take when you see a spill occur:

Scoop up as much of the spilled item as possible.

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.

If the spill is not completely removed with the steps above and/or the manufacturer’s recommended method/products, there are also household cleaning solution options. Always test any cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area of the carpet to check for any adverse reaction.

Detergent – 1/4 teaspoon hand dishwashing detergent and 1 cup warm water. Useful for: beer, candy, chocolate, excrement, ice cream, latex paint, mayonnaise, milk, white glue and sometimes vomit and wine.

Hydrogen Peroxide/Ammonia – 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon undiluted, unscented, non-sudsy household ammonia. (Dispose after using, do not store.) Useful for (following detergent and prior to vinegar): berries, blood, catsup, coffee, dyes, fruit juice, marking pen, liquors, mustard, pet food, soft drinks, tea and sometimes vomit and wine.

Vinegar – 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water. Used in combination with the other cleaning solutions.

Ammonia – 1 tablespoon ammonia and 1 cup water. Primarily used (following detergent and prior to vinegar) for urine.

* Extra Credit: for chewing gum and wax spills, first freeze the spill then shatter with a blunt object and vacuum remnants before the gum/wax thaws.

Are there green, or eco-friendly, carpet options?

Naturally! Bob’s Carpet is pleased to carry all of the following environmentally-friendly carpets.

If you’re looking for something biodegradable, wool carpet left to the elements will break down in only 5 years.

Sisal carpets are made from sisal, which is a natural fiber from the agave family. Not only a renewable and sustainable resource, sisal biodegrades more quickly than synthetic alternatives.

Sisal rug floor covering

Polyester carpets, like Shaw ClearTouch, use a particular fiber called PET polyester (PET). PET is made from recycled plastic bottles. The bottles are ground into tiny pieces, melted into chips and finally converted into carpet fibers.

Beaulieu makes their GreenSMART PET polyester using an advanced form of recycling. Not only is the product made from recycled plastic bottles, but the recycling process reduced their manufacturing mill energy output by 50%.

Many manufacturers use type 6 nylon, which is totally recyclable. Shaw uses a process of depolymerization that allows old type 6 carpet to be recycled into particles for “new” type 6 nylon.

The fibers used in Mohawk’s Smartstrand carpet are made using corn glucose which is both natural and a rapidly renewable resource. The process also requires 30% less energy than that to produce a comparable amount of nylon.

Dreamweaver offers PureColor carpet, in which the dye is inserted directly into the molten polymer instead of using a water-based process. This avoids using approximately 500 million gallons of water every year and reduces energy output by thirty percent

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