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Last edited 25 May 2018
Types of carpet
Carpet is a type of flooring made of an upper layer of pile attached to a backing. The pile is usually wool or fibers such as nylon, polyester or polypropylene that are heat-treated after having been twisted together into tufts or woven. There are many varieties of texture, style and colour available and generally carpet is both durable and easy to maintain. Carpet also has insulating properties in terms of both heat and sound. However, carpets can stain quite easily and can be damaged by water and damp.
As there is no universal grading for carpet quality, the weight and density should be assessed instead. The weight indicates the quantity of fibers that the carpet holds; the more fibres, the heavier the weight, and the higher quality of the carpet. The density indicates how many fibers are in the pile and how closely packed they are; the denser the pile, the higher quality.
For more information, see How to fit carpet.
The different types of fibers that are used for carpets include:
- Nylon: The most popular type of fiber, it is soft, durable and resistant to abrasion.
- Olefin: Also known as polypropylene, this fiber is tougher than nylon but is resistant to moisture and mould, which makes it suitable for basements.
- Wool: A natural fiber which produces an eco-friendly floor covering, it is durable and stain-resistant.
- Acrylic: Not widely used but can serve as an inexpensive alternative to wool.
- Polyester: An eco-friendly fiber and can hold colours without them fading over time, although it is prone to flattening, making it unsuitable for high-traffic applications.
The way the fibres are attached to their backing is what defines the two main types of carpet construction.
 Loop pile
This is where the fibers are bent over into small loops, creating a durable and stain-resistant carpet. However, its low profile provides only limited cushioning. The different types include:
 Level loop
 Multi-level loop
The carpet has a patterned texture as a result of the loops being at varying heights.
 Cut pile
This is where the fibers are cut rather than being looped, creating a denser and softer carpet than loop pile. They are also easier to clean. Changing the shearing angle that cuts the fiber loop or using different treatments before and after inserting the thread into the backing, can achieve different styles. As the threads are more rigid they tend to be less durable than loop pile carpets. The different types include:
Also known as ‘velvet cut pile’, this is characterised by its smooth and formal appearance, achieved by fibers that are short and densely-packed. Only tends to be used in formal, low-traffic applications.
This has a smooth finish and the longer, twisted fibers provide a softer and fuller body, although this means that indents can be caused by furniture, footprints, and so on.
This has a rougher surface texture created by fibers of uneven lengths.
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