Carpet Terms

Backing/Primary Backing- Typically manufactured from woven polypropylene, a carpets backing provides a base cloth to hold the yarn in place while tufting occurs.

Berber- This looped-style carpet features bulky yarns with characteristic color flecks, produced in a level or multi-level loop construction. Most Berbers are manufactured from olefin (polypropylene) fiber, but some are made from nylon or a blend.

Cable- This cut pile-style carpet is made of thicker and longer yarn and is suggested for low traffic spaces. Heavy foot traffic can cause matting and crushing, so it’s not the ideal choice for hallways or stairways.

Carpet Cushion- Also referred to as “Padding,” this is the cushion that lies between the carpet and the floor or foundation. The choice of padding determines how thick and soft a carpet feels underfoot. A quality cushion can preserve the carpet and provide it with improved protection against wear and tear.

Carpet Dying (Continuous Dyeing)- The process in which color is applied to the carpet face by spraying or printing. Often used to create multicolor or pattern effects.

Cut Pile – A versatile tufted carpet that features clipped yarn loops. This type of carpet is soft and dense with well-defined individual tuft tips. Many dealers call their smoother finished carpets “plushes.” New generation cut pile carpets resist stains and are less susceptible to traffic wear. It is the most widely used type of residential carpet.

Density- The measure of how tightly yarn is stitched into a carpet’s primary backing. Higher density carpet will normally wear better than lower density carpet.

Face Weight- A measurement in ounces determined by the amount of fiber per square yard. For example, a standard carpet may have a face weight of 35 to 45 ounces.

Fiber- The basic material that carpet is manufactured from. Over 90% of all carpet made today is manufactured from synthetic fiber, predominantly nylon, but also olefin (polypropylene), polyester or proprietary fibers. The rest is natural fiber, most commonly wool, silk and bamboo.

Frieze- A cut pile-style of carpet that has a very high twist level, meaning that each strand of yarn is twisted so tightly that it actually curl over at its end. The result is a textured surface with a nubby appearance and a highly durable product.

Loop Pile- A carpet style that has a pile surface consisting of uncut loops. May be woven or tufted. Also called “round wire” in woven carpet terminology. Great for high traffic areas.

Matte/Crush- The entanglement of fibers and tufts that results from weight and high traffic.

Nap- A carpet or rug’s pile surface.

Nylon- Nearly 75% of today’s carpet is manufactured from this synthetic polyamide, which is considered the leader in appearance retention, fade and heat resistance, soil and stain resistance and both color and styling.

Olefin- See Polypropylene.

Pile- The visible wear surface of carpet consisting of yarn tufts in loop and/or cut configuration. Sometimes called “face” or “nap.”

Pile Height- Measured from the surface of the back to the top of a carpet’s pile, not including the thickness of the back.

Plush- A single level, cut pile surface. See Saxony.

Polyester- A fiber-forming, thermoplastic synthetic polymer, often chosen for its bulkiness, color clarity and resistance to stains and fading. Not as resilient as nylon, but a great performer.

Polypropylene- Synthetic, thermoplastic polymer used for molded items, sheets, films and fibers. Federal Trade Commission classification is olefin. Today it represents more over 35% of the total fibers used in carpet manufacturing. While not as resilient or resistant to abrasion as nylon, it is naturally stain and fade resistant. Most often used in loop pile constructions.

Saxony- A dense cut pile, usually made of plied and heat set yarns, so that each tuft end has a distinguished appearance. The result is a smooth, velvety, “traditional” look with a luxurious feel. Prone to vacuum trails and footprints.

Screen Printing- A common method of carpet coloring, where color is applied from one to as many as eight silk-screens. Carpeting with photographs and custom artwork can now be achieved through this process.

Shearing- The manufacturing process in which carpet is drawn under revolving cutting blades, in order to produce a smooth face on the fabric.

Shedding- A natural part of any new carpet in which individual fibers come loose from the base. Frequent vacuuming for the first few days will eliminate the problem.

Sprouting- The protrusion of individual tuft or yarn ends above the pile surface. May be clipped with scissors.

Stitch Rate- A measurement in penetrations or tufts in a given length of carpet (usually an inch) that describes the density of yarn. Controlled by how fast carpet is moved through the tufting machine. Seven to eight tufts per inch is a quality measurement, while three or four per inch is fairly poor.

Synthetic- A man-made product that uses chemical compounds in its creation versus natural materials. Over 90% of carpet today is made of synthetic fiber – typically nylon, polypropylene or polyester. All three are manufactured from a similar chemical processes that uses oil and natural gas.

Textured- A popular cut pile carpet with alternating crimp, loops or other modifications of yarn that results in a two-tone appearance. Textured yarns have increased cover, resiliency, abrasion resistance, and insulation.

Transition- The spot where two different floor coverings meet — i.e. carpet and hardwood floor. Professional installers attempt to match surface heights to create a seamless passage from one to the other.

Tuft/Tufting- The cut or uncut loop of pile fabric and the first step in the manufacturing of carpet. The tufting process begins with the weaving synthetic or staple fiber into a primary backing material.

Twist- The number of turns per inch and the direction of turning of the pile fibers or ply or yarn strands placed together. Twist direction may be either right (Z-twist) or left (S-twist). Most carpets range between 2.5 and 6.0 turns per inch (TPI). The approximate twist level must match the yarn size and the textural effect desired. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to determine the twist level.

Wool- The coat of a sheep and the original staple fiber used in the manufacture of carpet. Since wool is a natural fiber, it ranges in color from off-white to black, with a number of earthen tones between. Although wool doesn’t stand up to abrasion and moisture as well as synthetics, it cleans well and is known to age gracefully. Wool is the most expensive carpet fiber and represents less than one percent of today’s U.S. market.

Yarn Dyeing- Yarn that is dyed before being fabricated into carpet. Also known as “Pre-Dyeing.”

Yarn Dyeing-Beck– An alternative dyeing method used in the manufacturing of carpet that involves the application of color to yarn after the carpet has been tufted.