Wall-to-wall carpet can be soft and homey, or it can add a little bit of luxury to an office or retail environment. It helps to muffle sound and it’s a quick and easy way to add colour and style. It can temporarily or permanently cover a floor that isn’t quite presentable, too. However, different types of carpet have different strengths and weaknesses. The same carpet will not deliver maximum luxury and maximum durability, for example.
A carpet’s pile consists of the multi-strand fibres that project above its woven backing. The pile is also called the nap or the face of the carpet. Carpets are divided into broad categories based on whether their pile is cut or looped.
Loop Pile Carpets
In a loop pile carpet, individual strands begin and end below the carpet backing; they form loops at the top. This makes them fairly sturdy, with a flat surface. They don’t compress as much as cut pile carpets, and you’d be unlikely to spot footprints on one. Not all loop pile carpets are the same, however. Some feature loops that end consistently at one height, while others have loops that are staggered in height. Some have a longer pile, and others have a shorter pile. The loops may be thick and closely placed or less dense.
Berber carpet may be the best known type of loop pile carpet. It has thick, dense loops of different heights, and it’s often manufactured with a dappled look that tends to hide dirt. It strikes a good balance between softness and durability. Carpet with short, level loops is even more durable and is often used in offices and public areas.
Cut Pile Carpets
In a cut pile carpet, the cut ends of the fibres form the top surface. Cut pile carpets are usually manufactured by looping the strands, then cutting them and trimming them. Cut pile carpets are generally softer and less durable than loop pile carpets. However, their density and texture vary quite a bit.
Velvet, or plush, carpet is a type of cut pile carpet. It is dense and made up of many tiny strands. It’s flat on the top and has an even texture, but if it’s high pile, it will crush easily. Saxony carpet is thick, soft and even, and it’s generally a very high quality, luxury product. Frieze, or shag, carpet is less dense, with high pile. It features twisty strands and is soft and highly textured. Of course, there are plenty of medium-pile, fairly soft, fairly durable whole-house cut pile carpets available, too.
Cut + Loop Pile Carpets
In a cut and loop carpet, some fibres are looped while others are cut. Why? Because the looped and cut fibres reflect light differently, the contrast can be used to create interesting textures, patterns like dots and stripes or even pictures. It’s a stylish and sophisticated look.
Whatever type of pile you prefer, you can probably find the best value on your carpet at Fowles retail carpet collection or weekly carpet auctions.