The main attraction of carpet as a flooring material is its capacity to provide a cushiony, warm and soft surface underfoot. Two aspects of carpet are primary factors when picking a carpet: the natural or synthetic fibre used in the production and the pile—how the loops of fibre are connected to the carpet backing.
These properties determine the carpet’s comfort, how it feels under your feet, and its durable characteristics.
Many fibres are used in carpet, but the most popular are nylon, polyester, polypropylene, acrylic, and Wool. Carpets are made by looping the fibre yarns into the backing material like a button sewn on a shirt.
These loops of fibre can then be left both intact or cut at different angles and lengths. How the fibre loops are treated is recognised as the carpet pile.
Here are the standard carpet fibres and pile choices to consider and a selection of the most common soft carpets and flooring materials.
Nylon is very warm, soft, durable, and resistant to stains and wear and tear. It is the most common of carpet fibres by a considerable measure. By some estimates, approximately 90% of all household carpets are made of nylon. It has an excellent defence to wear, mould, mildew, and rot, and it is easy to dye and keeps its colour well.
It usually is affordably priced—less costly than Wool but more expensive than other synthetics. These carpetings can last 12 to 15 years if cared for well, and It can be classed as the most durable.
Polypropylene (Olefin) Carpets
Polypropylene is the next best-selling carpet fibre, used in nearly 80% of commercial purposes and growing numbers of residential environments. It wears very well and is practically as soft as nylon.
Also known as olefin, polypropylene fibres are comparable to natural Wool and are often used as a synthetic wool replacement. This fibre is highly stain-resistant but is inclined to soiling and holding onto oils, which accumulate dirt.
It is, nevertheless, relatively easy to clean—bleach can even be used in some instances. Polypropylene is not as resilient or repellant as nylon, so is consequently usually used for loop-style carpets, such as Berbers. The cost of polypropylene is somewhat less than most nylon carpets, but more than polyester and acrylic.
Polyester is known for its capacity to hold vibrant, fade-resistant colours. The fibre is also non-allergenic. One type of polyester carpet, distinguished as polyester/PET, is made from recycled plastic containers, making it eco-friendly.
Its primary disadvantage is that polyester is prone to flattening underweight, making it the wrong choice for high-traffic spaces and areas that have much heavy furniture.
It can likewise be inclined to oil stains, which are very difficult to remove from polyester fibre.
Sometimes marketed or advertised as “synthetic wool” because it gives the feel and appearance of Wool at a portion of the price, acrylic has excellent resistance to static electricity, moisture, fading, mildew, and staining.
But it is not a very tough material, and it doesn’t hold up well in high-traffic spaces. It is sometimes combined with Wool. Acrylics may turn brown if stained with specific alkaline chemicals, such as those in cleaning products.
Wool, a natural, rich, long-lasting material, is the softest carpet fibre you can obtain. Sadly, low-grade Wool is more sensitive to staining, while high-grade Wool is costly. Some businesses combine Wool with synthetic fibres to create a carpet with the advantages of both. Wool/acrylic blends are particularly common.
Pure wool carpet is produced with no chemicals or additives, making it an excellent choice for people with allergies or responsiveness to chemicals.
But as a natural material, Wool could be predisposed to damage from mould and mildew, which feed on organic materials. Therefore, Wool is not the right choice for high humidity and moisture, such as bathrooms and laundries.
Also recognised as “uncut pile” or “Berber pile” (named for a distinct variation of knotted pile used in North Africa), loop pile has the entire yarn loop intact on the exterior of the product.
These carpets tend to be extremely durable, easy to clean, and resistant to stains, making them ideal for high-traffic business and commercial applications or high-traffic family areas, such as living rooms and bedrooms, and recreation rooms.
Loop pile carpets also don’t reveal indentations created by footprints and vacuum marks.
Loop pile carpet comes in varieties, such as level loop, where the fibre loops are all the same size, and patterned loops, where the loops are various heights. It is also feasible for a carpet to have a cut-and-loop structure, where some fibres are cut, and others are looped.
A distinct type of loop-pile carpeting is the sisel carpet. Loops of different colours, and sometimes various heights, are organised in rows, to produce a textured, patterned cover.
Caution: The loops of the uncut pile are not just less soft and padded than cut-pile fibres, but they can also be a snagging danger, particularly for pets or little children.
Cut pile is a style of carpet where the exposed fibres are shaved off. This typically gives soft, inviting, easy-to-clean carpets.
Different types can be created by adjusting the shearing angle that slices the loop or using other treatments on the thread before and after it is inserted into the backing.
Cut pile comes in various lengths and thicknesses, and these carpets work well when a whole house is carpeted, as it combines well from room to room.
On the downside, cut pile makes it more obvious to see footmarks and vacuum trails. The twist of the fibres can reduce this tendency. The individual fibres comprise a twist that helps the carpeting stand up against matting and crushing.
The heavier the twist, the more repellent the carpet will be to matting. Heavy twist also aids in creating a texture that hides wear and dirt.
Although much more prevalent than loop-pile carpet, cut-pile carpets are not as durable and will need to be replaced more regularly. They come in several varieties, including shag carpet, which refers to a carpet with extra-long (1/2 inch or more).
Shag carpet is now comparatively rare, but different speciality cut-pile forms (described below) are very popular and used for distinct effects.
Sometimes titled the velvet-cut pile, this style is a modification of cut pile. The fibres are even smaller than with a Saxony cut and very densely packed, which produces a rich and luxurious carpet surface.
Regrettably, this carpet style is relatively temperamental. Prone to wearing down, scuffing, and registering footprints, velvet carpet pile should only be employed in luxurious, low-traffic environments.
The term textured-cut pile belongs to a form of cut-pile carpet in which the fibres are of irregular lengths. They are also twisted into spiral strands utilising a particular steam treatment that curls the singular strands to remain kinked.
This style is also named “trackless” because it doesn’t reveal footprints and other marks on its surface like different cut piles, such as Saxony. The spiral strands reflect light less than straight strands, so it’s not as noticeable when spirals are crushed down. This pile is fitting for mid to high-level traffic areas.
Frieze-Cut Pile Carpets
The term frieze-cut pile belongs to a carpet in which relatively long cut fibres are twisted collectively and kinked, causing them to curl unevenly across the surface of the carpet. (This style is sometimes recognised as California shag.)
This highly durable style manages to hide dirt and wear and fits high-traffic, business and commercial settings.
Sculpted Pile Carpets
A sculptured carpet has both looped & cut-pile fibres, which produces height and texture fluctuations in the carpet’s surface. These carpets are sometimes recognised as cut-and-loop or patterned carpets.
The different fibre cuts are sometimes organised in geometric patterns, giving the carpet a three-dimensional arrangement. The additional fibre cuts can be the same height (level cut-and-loop) or at various sizes (textured cut-and-loop).