Glossary of Carpet
Knowing what all the carpet terms mean when you buy your
next new carpet.It's also helpful to understand how carpet is made, recognize faulty carpet
terms and make sense of any terminology prior to carpet cleaning and stain removal. If you can understand the
descriptions on carpet sample labels and brochures and relate to what the carpet salesman tells you, then you
should benefit from a better quality carpet with maximum value over the long term.
A brand name for a woven polypropylene secondary backing used in carpet manufacture.
The latex or adhesive layer that is applied to the underside of the primary backing to anchor the base of the tufts
and prevent them from working loose.
A type of machine woven carpet with a multicoloured,
patterned pile. Usually produced with a high wool content. Produced in three styles: Spool Axminster with up to
thirty colours, Gripper Axminster with eight colours and Spool-gripper, which is a combination of both.
Banding (or roll crush) is evident as dark or light lines
across the width of the roll. It can also appear as compressed sections of pile caused by pressure from the leading
edge of the carpet at the centre, or ‘core’, of the roll. The flattened pile can be caused by the weight of the
roll in storage on shelves, or when several rolls of carpet are stored one on top of another.
Bulked Continuous Filament yarns are continuous strands of
synthetic extruded fibres. BCF yarns are produced in polyamide (nylon) and polypropylene (olefin) without the need
to spin the yarn from short lengths.
A term used to describe carpets with a cut-pile or loop
pile construction that are made predominately of natural flecked yarns. A Berber style is attributed to the nomadic
tribesmen of North Africa (Berbers) who use the fleece from the sheep they tend to produce multi-coloured rugs with
a natural appearance. Berber is also thought to be any carpet style with a bold loop.
A blended carpet has a mix of two or more fibres such as an
80% wool/20% nylon or 50% polypropylene/50% wool.
Before broadloom carpets that we are accustomed to
today, the common widths available where in narrow ‘Body’ sizes of 27" (3/4 body) and 36" (full body). These were
joined together by hand sowing or heat seaming into larger pieces to cover large areas.
Broadloom carpets are manufactured in wide widths of
3.66m, 4.00, 4.57, or 5.00 metres.
When a single tuft is cut its tip relaxes, causing it to
splay out or 'burst'.
When a carpet pile is subjected to concentrated traffic, heavy furniture or storage conditions before
This term relates to the density of pile that covers the
primary backing. A light cover would reveal the primary backing causing it to 'grin' or appear to sparkle.
The process of shearing the tips of the carpet pile by trimming with blades to produce a uniform and level surface
Cut n Loop
A carpet effect with high and low levels of pile, the high loops having been sheared to produce a cut-pile. The
result is a structured, textured pile, which can be plain or overprinted with other shades.
A tufted yarn produced from a continuous loop which has had the tip
sheared off to form a surface that is soft and textured. Also presented in woven form as Axminster or Wilton weave.
A tighter tuft density withstands heavy traffic best.
When the secondary backing of a carpet parts from the primary layer due to a poor adhesive bond.
The tightness or closeness of pile tufts in relation to
each other. A 1/10th gauge pile is denser than an 1/8th gauge.
When synthetic molten polymer chips are forced through a
metal spinneret, which has numerous holes in it, thereby producing continuous strands of solid fibre.
Face to Face
A method of producing carpet where to the yarn is sandwiched between two backing layers and then sliced into two by
a sharp blade to produce two cut-pile carpets in a single process. This method is often used to produce Wilton
The face (or pile) weight is the actual amount of
surface fibre per square yard, and is usually measured in ounces. Often quoted in relation to a wool carpet:
typical pile weights are 36, 40, 50 and 60 ounces.
The loss of colour in a carpet surface fibre, often seen
when (but not specific to) the pile being subject to the UV rays of strong sunlight.
A type of cushioned textile secondary backing, which is
bonded with adhesive to the primary backing of a tufted carpet.
A single strand of any type of fibre, natural or
A tufted carpet with fine gauge rows of tufts that are packed closely together, as in a 1/10" gauge.
The appearance of loose fibres on the surface of a carpet, usually found in a carpet pile made from a staple fibre
yarn. Prevalent in a new carpet when first installed and vacuumed.
A cut pile style that has a very high twist. Each strand of yarn is twisted so tightly that the tip curls over. The
result is a textured surface with a loose, coarse, knobbly appearance. A style best suited to medium wear
Pile fibres working loose to give a hairy effect on the carpet surface, brought about by foot traffic or slack yarn
filaments. The cause can be poor adhesive penetration at the tuft base, poor yarn spinning, inadequate twisting and
heat setting, or improper maintenance. Using an upright vacuum cleaner with a beater bar on a loop pile carpet can
aggravate this condition.
The number of individual tufts across the width of a tufted carpet for a given unit of measure: i.e., 1/10" has ten
tufts per inch and 1/8" has eight tufts per inch.
When a carpet has a low tuft density, the primary backing is often visible between the tufts. A woven polypropylene
primary backing can be seen to 'glisten’ in certain light conditions.
A gripper is a length of plywood with embedded sharp pins, set at angle, at the right height to hold the backing of
a carpet in place. Gripper is also a term to describe a method of producing an Axminster carpet.
A carpet yarn with a hard, tight twist applied.
Heat is applied to the yarn strand to fix a permanent
twist into it.
The natural fibre yarn from the jute plant is woven into a sheet and used as a secondary backing for tufted
Individual tufts which stand proud of the carpet
surface. Often loose (but can also be firmly fixed at the base of the tuft) they are best trimmed level with a pair
of scissors or knapping shears.
A method of producing tufted carpet using an
electronically operated process (which controls the needle bar) to give a patterned effect. Often seen in carpets
as a linear zigzag effect.
A mechanical device invented by Marie Jacquard using punched cards to control the pattern produced by a weaving
A natural liquid found in plants, particularly the rubber
tree, which is used as an adhesive to bond and seal carpet backings. Synthetic latex is also used as an
A tufted yarn that is continuous and uncut to form a
surface that is dense and hardwearing, often used in commercial carpeting and carpet tiles. A low profile loop pile
carpet withstands heavy traffic best.
Meltbond is a term that describes a process of
encapsulating staple yarn with a fine ‘web’ of fibre. This web has heat applied to it to shrink it slightly. As a
result, the tufts have improved strength, crush resistance, tuft definition and shedding is reduced. Meltbond
usually makes up 10 percent of the total yarn fibre mix.
Carpet produced by mechanically binding loose fibres together with rows of barbed needles. Needle punched carpet is
normally made with solution-dyed yarns and is a very dense, hardwearing and low cost product. It is commonly used
in heavy contract applications, such as schools, shops, offices and outdoor carpeting.
The term Nylon is a generic name for the synthetic polymer,
polyamide – a fibre which is derived from the petrochemical industry. First produced in 1939 by the American
company DuPont. Nylon is produced as a BCF (bulked continuous filament) fibre for use in both loop pile and cut
pile carpets. Staple nylon is spun into yarn for use in cut pile carpets.
Tufted carpet that is dyed after tufting, but before other finishing processes such as latexing or backing.
The loss of pile thickness by compression caused by
foot traffic and heavy pressure from furniture. All carpets demonstrate this condition but a resilient woollen pile
tends to recover much better than synthetics.
A change in the direction of the cut pile in some areas resulting in an obvious visual shade difference. A cut pile
carpet that has pile reversal will show random areas of lighter or darker
shading than the adjacent area. Its cause is not understood and remains unexplained. It can be seen in tufted or
woven carpets and rugs, whether made from nylon, wool, acrylic, polyester, polypropylene or blends of these fibres.
Also described as pooling, watermarking or shading.
The tendency of some fibre strands to work loose from the
pile to form small balls of matted filaments that remain attached to the carpet surface. These small pills or balls
can trimmed off with scissors or a de-fuzzing comb: they should not be pulled from carpet.
The pile (or face) weight is the actual amount of surface fibre per square yard, and is usually measured in ounces.
Typical pile weights are 36, 40, 50 and 60 ounces.
The number of strands of yarn that are twisted together to form a single yarn, as in ‘2 ply’ or ‘3’ ply. Cut pile
carpets made from plied yarns must be heat set to prevent the tufts from unfurling when trafficked.
The synthetic polymer polyamide invented by the American company DuPont. More often referred to as Nylon.
Also known as Olefin. Polypropylene fibre is a by-product of petro-chemical refining. Cheaper than nylon, it is
used extensively in low cost domestic and commercial carpets. Polypropylene is a lightweight BCF fibre that bulks
well and provides a good ‘cover’ and handle. Less hardwearing or resilient than Nylon but anti-static, stain
resistant and the least absorbent of all synthetic fibres.
A pre-woven primary backing layer has the carpet
yarn tufted directly into it. Tufting needles push the yarn through the primary backing layer, which is then held
in place with underlying “loopers”. A layer of adhesive or latex is then applied to anchor the base of the
A Saxony carpet has a soft and luxurious feel with a long pile and a knobbly twist finish. Saxony’s are not
suitable for high traffic areas because they can show flattening.
The secondary backing serves to secure the base of the surface tufts in place and at the same time helps the carpet
retain its dimensional stability. The secondary backing is bonded to the primary backing with a synthetic adhesive.
Hessian secondary backings were once the norm but now the majority of tufted carpets use a woven polypropylene
A carpet that demonstrates shading will show areas that
are lighter or darker than the surrounding pile. This difference is caused by the reflection of light from the tips
of the pile tufts that lay in different directions.
Shedding is a term used to describe the release of loose fibres (usually unsecured staple fibres or sheared/cropped
fibres) from the carpet surface. This condition is common with a new carpet but it usually diminishes within a few
weeks or months with regular vacuuming.
Carpet yarn that is a single strand.
Individual tufts or yarn ends that stick out above the pile surface. These tufts should be cut off with scissors,
level with the surrounding tufts, never pulled out to leave a gap. May be clipped with scissors.
Yarn that is made up of short lengths of fibre, either synthetic staple or natural staple fibre.
Staple yarns are produced in short lengths, spun, and
twisted together to form long lengths of yarn, which are then tufted into carpet. Nylon is produced in both staple
and BCF yarn. Polypropylene is produced in BCF only. Wool and cotton are natural staple fibres.
This is the number of tufts or ‘stitches’ for every
inch of travel along the length of the roll. Sometimes referred to as the SPI, i.e. stitches per Inch.
Shearing the tips off the high loops of a tufted,
multi-level, loop pile carpet at the finishing stage. This creates a cut and loop texture or sculptured patterned
effect. A Tip Shear carpet is often a tight, dense pile compared to a Cut & Loop, which can be much softer and
The strength of bond at the base of a tuft. Any
adhesive weakness (or lack of latex or adhesive) on the underside of the primary backing will allow the tufts to
A manufacturing process where a pre-woven primary layer has yarn tufted directly into it. Tufting needles push the
yarn through the primary backing layer, which is then coated with a layer of adhesive to anchor the base of the
tufts. At the same time, a secondary backing layer is applied to cover the base of the tufts and to give the carpet
strength and stability.
A term describing the number of turns per inch, and the direction of twist, of either single or multi-ply yarns.
The twist direction is either right or left-handed. Most carpet yarns have 3 ½ to 6 twists per inch. The
performance of a cut pile carpet is dependent on the twist in the pile yarn. Spun yarns need more twist than BCF
yarns for good performance.
A velvet pile is short and often dense. The tufts
are fine, with a highly twisted nature applied during the spinning process. This helps the tips of the tufts to
‘burst’ thus creating a velvety surface appearance. This style is often likely to show footprints and vacuum lane
A weaving term for yarns that run lengthwise in woven fabrics and carpets.
The backing yarn that runs across the width of a woven carpet
which is held in place by the warp yarns. Often made of brown jute.
A type of woven carpet and the loom used to manufacture it.
Carpet produced on a loom using a weaving process.
The lengthwise warp yarns intertwine with the width wise weft backing yarns, which serve to secure the pile yarns
in place. Weaving is a slow, expensive, labour-intensive process. Woven carpets such as Axminster are well known
for their intricate patterns and soft textured surface. Wilton’s are well known for their dense hardwearing surface
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