Flooring 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Carpet

by Kelsey Flores
?If you think homeowners aren?t installing carpet anymore, you?re not alone. With all the talk about wood look porcelain and revamped vinyl planks, carpet might seem like the black sheep of the flooring family. But here?s the thing: Carpet still has a seat at the table. Carpet not only adds warmth and comfort to your home, but it?s also a beautiful, functional, and economic flooring option for many families. Plus, you can?t find another floor that?s as soft on your feet. If you?re buying carpet in the near future, here?s a closer look at the terms you should know, different fiber types, maintenance concerns, the latest trends, and more.?
Patterned carpet flooring in Corpus Christi, Texas
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
Terms You Should Know
Before we go any further, let?s define some key terms that you?ll hear once you enter the world of carpet. We mention most of these terms throughout this post. We recommend that you glance at these definitions now so that you?ll understand when you read them in context.

??????????????? Berber: a looped style of carpet that features bulky yarns with characteristic color flecks

??????????????? Backing/Primary Backing: this provides a base cloth to hold the yarn in place while tufting occurs

??????????????? Carpet Cushion: also known as padding. It?s the cushion that lies between the carpet and the??
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? floor or foundation

??????????????? Carpet Dying (Continuous Dyeing): a process in which color is applied to the carpet face by?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? spraying or printing. It?s often used to create multicolor or pattern effects
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Density: the measure of how tightly the yarn is stitched into a carpet?s primary backing

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Face Weight: the measurement in ounces determined by the amount of fiber per square yard
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Matte/Crush: an entanglement of fibers and tufts that results from weight and high traffic?
??????????????? Nap: a carpet or rug?s pile surface

??????????????? Screen Printing: a common method of carpet coloring where color is applied from one to as?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? many as eight silk screens

??????????????? Shearing: a manufacturing process in which carpet is drawn under revolving cutting blades in
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? order to produce a smooth face fabric

??????????????? Shedding: a natural part of any new carpet where individual fibers come loose from the base

??????????????? Sprouting: the protrusion of individual tuft or yarn above the pile surface

??????????????? Textured: a popular cut pile carpet with alternating crimp, loops, or other modifications of yarn?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?that result in a two-tone appearance

??????????????? Transition: the spot where two different floor coverings meet, such as carpet and hardwood

??????????????? Tuft/Tufting: the cut or uncut loop of pile fabric and the first step in manufacturing carpet

??????????????? Yarn Dyeing: yarn that is dyed before being fabricated into carpet

??????????????? 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
Carpet Styles
?According to the World Floor Covering Association, carpet isn?t like other flooring products because it doesn?t have dozens of options to choose from. Instead, carpet only comes in three basic styles: cut, loop, and cut and loop pile. Don?t worry ? we?ll explain what each of these terms mean.
Patterned beige carpet
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
?Cut pile, also known as plush or textured carpet, is created when the loops that result from weaving are cut at the same height and are allowed to slightly tuft. This results in a carpet that?s dense with a soft appearance. Cut pile carpet has a firm grip on the residential market and comes in four subcategories:
  • Saxony, also referred to as plush, is the first subcategory. It resembles a freshly cut lawn in the sense that all the fibers are perfectly even and standing at attention.
  • The next subcategory is textured Saxony, which has a permanent curl to it. This reduces light reflectivity so that it won?t show footprints.
  • Frieze or twist is the third subcategory and offers a tighter twist that curls over, creating a very durable product that hides footprints and vacuum lines.
  • Cable, the last subcategory, is constructed with thicker and longer yarns, which can create a carpet that looks luxurious.?
Loop pile carpet is uncut and usually made from nylon fibers, which gives the carpet a more textured appearance. It?s primarily installed in commercial settings.
Like the name suggests, cut and loop carpet is a combination of both cut and loop pile. You can find plenty of different patterns that result from the variations in surface textures. ?
Carpet Fibers
According to Pro Flooring Brokers, there are four basic fibers that are used to make or manufacture carpet: nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and wool. There?s also a fifth one, known as Triexta Polyester.
Nylon carpet fibers are perhaps the most versatile of all the fibers. Because nylon provides durability and flexibility, you?ll find that it?s the most used carpet fiber. Nylon can be dyed in a range of colors and is one of the softer fibers, which gives it a luxurious appearance. Although nylon is not the most stain resistant, many manufacturers add a stain resistant treatment to protect against stains. This stain protection, however, can wear off over time with foot traffic and cleaning treatments.

Polyester (also called PET) carpet fibers are a great choice for rooms that will see low to medium traffic, such as bedrooms. Polyester comes in a wide variety of colors, is as strong and durable as nylon, and performs well over time. It?s also naturally stain and fade resistant, which makes it an ideal choice for those of you who have kids. It can show matting more easily than nylon, though.
Blue gray carpet
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
PTT or Triexta Polyester carpet fibers feature good resiliency and excellent inherent stain resistance. We?ll talk more about how it?s made under the Mohawk section.

Polypropylene or Olefin carpet fibers will not absorb water. Unlike other carpet fibers, which are dyed after production, it undergoes a solution dyeing process. The color of the carpet fiber is an intricate part of the final product that won?t fade even if exposed to intense sunlight, chemicals, or other contaminants. Since this carpet fiber isn?t as strong as other fibers, it?ll have a loop pile construction.
Wool carpet fiber is known for a rich look and feel. A traditional favorite, it remains a premium choice that is found in upper lines and styles. While wool tends to clean well and has beautiful colors, it wears down more easily, especially in high traffic areas. In fact, in some cases bald spots may occur in high traffic areas, and although it is naturally stain resistant, it does require a high level of maintenance.? ?
Neutral carpet in living room
Photo courtesy of Houzz.
What's the Best Carpet for Your Home??
Now that you?re aware of the different carpet styles and fibers, you?re probably wondering which carpet is best for your home.

Let?s start with which carpet is best in bedrooms. According to the World Floor Covering Association, the best carpet depends on whose bedroom it is. For instance, a master or guest bedroom is not likely to have much foot traffic, soiling, or staining, so just about any fiber in a plush or texture style will work.

Children?s bedrooms pose a greater risk of spills and stains, so stain-resistant nylon or polyester fibers are your best bet. Also, keep in mind that solid color carpets are less forgiving than carpets with multi-colored fibers. ?
When it comes to your living room, your lifestyle and personal tastes come into play. If your living room is formal, then it?ll be best served by a classic cut pile Saxony or a sophisticated cut and loop patterned carpet. On the other hand, if your living room is busy with kids and pets, it?s best to have a solution dyed or stain treated product with some type of odor treatment.
Neutral patterned carpet in living room
Photo courtesy of HGTV.
Family rooms are typically high traffic areas, especially if you have kids and pets. It?s recommended that you use a multi-colored, dense textured looped carpet style because they?re more forgiving of everyday messes.

Where people gather to eat and drink, there?s bound to be stains and spills. PET polyester carpets are best for dining rooms, as they have advanced stain resistant properties.
Hallways and stairs can be tough on carpeting because they tend to be high traffic areas. People turn their feet at the bottom and top of stairways, which can cause additional stress on the carpet. A low, dense pile carpet is recommended for both spaces. ?
The Life Cycle of Carpet
?Wondering how long your carpet will last? There?s no set answer. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, carpet can last anywhere from 8 to 10 years on average. However, that isn?t always the case. Life span can change depending on several factors, like the amount of foot traffic the area gets, how well and often you take care of your carpet, and if you?re staying on top of stains.?
Mohawk Carpet
We would be remiss if we didn?t talk about Mohawk?s SmartStrand and EverStrand carpets. Each is unique in what they offer homeowners.
According to Mohawk, SmartStrand Forever Clean is made with a fiber that is engineered to resist matting and crushing. That trait is built into the fiber at the molecular level, which causes the fiber to bounce back and maintain its beauty over time. SmartStrand Forever Clean combines permanent stain resistance, advanced spill protection, maximum durability, all pet protection, and superior softness into one carpet.
?The process to make EverStrand includes taking premium PET from the highest grade polymer, strengthening the fiber, and removing dirt-attracting residue with a multi-step purification system. The end result: a carpet that resists the dirt, grime, and residue that can create a dingy appearance over time. As if getting a durable, long-lasting carpet wasn?t great enough, EverStrand also contributes to a cleaner planet, as it?s made with up to 100 percent recycled content.?
Carpet maintenance
Photo courtesy of Mohawk Flooring.
Carpet isn?t necessarily a chore to keep clean, but it does require more attention than other flooring types. According to Mohawk, following these tips will help your carpet last as long as possible:
  • Vacuum your carpet on a regular basis in order to prevent soil from embedding itself in the pile*
  • Consider professional cleaning every 12 to 18 months
  • Always treat a spill immediately because the longer it sits there, the harder it is to clean
  • Use scissors to clip sprouts and snags because pulling them might damage your carpet
  • If carpet is burned, remove the tops of the burnt fibers with curved fingernail scissors?
  • Remove heavy furniture dents by stroking the dented area with the edge of a coin. You can also use a hair dryer or steam iron ? just be careful not to touch the carpet with the iron
?*Always check vacuum recommendations with your carpet manufacturer. Some vacuum cleaners may not be compatible with your carpet.? ? ? ? ? ?
Pricing depends on several factors: the type of fiber you choose, the density of the carpet, and the brand. Olefin, for instance, normally starts around $1 per square foot. Entry-level nylons and polyesters will cost $1 to $3 per square foot, while higher quality nylons, polyesters, and Triextas can cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per square foot. Patterned carpet and high quality Triexta carpet can exceed $5 per square foot. Wool will cost upwards of $6 per square foot.?
According to the Wood Floor Covering Association, most, if not all, carpet and flooring is sold by the square foot, which means in order to calculate a cost, you need to determine how much carpet you will need.
Carpet Trends
?Solid neutral tones are always a safe choice, but more and more homeowners are looking to make a bold statement with their carpet. More vibrant or bold colors are in right now, such as reds, oranges, dark browns, or greens. So are bold multicolor combinations in graphic patterns, such as color blocking and stripes.?
Red patterned carpet
Photo courtesy of HGTV.
?Patterned carpet is popping up in more homes, with designs ranging from classic pin dots and basket weaves to modern geometric shapes and linear designs. Homeowners are also looking for carpet that incorporates natural fibers that help contribute to a cleaner carpet and planet.??

??If you need more information about carpet or have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or tweet us at @tukasacreations.?

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