Know the Jargon
Carpet is an infrequent purchase and carpet knowledge is limited. So you are not bemused by the terminology you are confronted with in-store, here is a basic guide to the different ways carpet is manufactured, the styles available and the fibres that carpet is made out of.
Methods of Manufacture
Broadly speaking, there are two ways in which carpet is manufactured – woven or tufted. With woven carpet, the front and back are woven simultaneously. It is a labour intensive process, and slower than tufting, hence woven carpets are more expensive. They are, however, the better quality with better dimensional stability.
There are 2 types of Woven carpet – Axminster which are patterned and Wilton which tend to be plain but can be made with up to 5 colours. Axminster, Brintons and Ulster are particularly well known for their Woven carpets.
Most carpet sold in the UK is Tufted, a process whereby yarn is inserted into a ready made backing fabric. Tufted carpets can be plain or patterned.
There are a variety of surface texture options available, which affect the feel, appearance and performance of your carpet.
Twist piles have a coarse rugged finish.
Velvet piles have a smooth, luxurious appearance. A cut pile, it is like suede.
On a like for like basis, there is no difference in performance between a twist pile and a velvet pile. The difference is purely aesthetic. On a like for like basis, there is no difference in performance between a twist pile and a velvet pile. The difference is purely aesthetic.
Loop piles replicate the appearance of natural flooring such as sisal and coir. Remember that cats and anything with long claws and loop piles do not mix! They typically come in natural and neutral shades.
Saxonys has a pronounced sensuous feel with a deep pile. Very popular in bedrooms, saxonies do flatten and so are not practical in high traffic areas.
Patterned carpet usually has a smooth velvet surface with excellent appearance retention and is very hard wearing.
By and large, the more luxurious the surface, the greater care it will need. Shorter pile generally wears better than long but is not as luxurious.
It all comes down to personal taste, future plans and room usage.
There are a wide range of fibres available and each fibre has its own characteristics. Carpet is made from natural and synthetic fibres, each with their own characteristics. Fibres are often blended together to produce yarns which give the best properties for a particular use. A fibre which is weak in one area is blended with one that is strong in another thereby giving a better performance than either would on its own.
Wool is the classic carpet fibre. It is soft, doesn’t flatten easily, keeps its appearance well, is easy to dye and is fire resistant.
Nylon is very strong and also doesn’t flatten easily. It is often used in blends with wool.
Polypropylene is stain resistant and wears well but is flammable and flattens easily.
Polyester wears well and is easily cleaned but does flatten.