Inevitably, when consumers seek assistance with carpet problems, the first question asked of the consumer is whether the carpet is a cut pile carpet or loop pile carpet. Just as inevitable is the silence on the other end of the phone. Few consumers really have an understanding of the product they have purchased. It is no wonder that so many people have issues with carpet purchases. There is no clear starting point in explaining carpet construction, but carpet styling seems to be the easiest to explain.
Carpet Types: Distinguishing the Differences
Carpet can be grouped into three primary constructions; loop pile, cut pile, and cut and loop pile. Each of these construction types may be used in the home; although cut piles represent the largest market share for residential carpet. Loop pile carpets, such as Berber, have been increasing in popularity over the past 10 years. Cut and loops represented a significant portion of carpet sales during the 1970s and 1980s, but cut and loop usage has been reduced considerably.
Loop Pile Carpet
All carpet actually begins as a loop
pile and the loops
are cut during manufacturing to provide the cut pile appearance. As the name implies, cut and loops are a combination of cut loops and uncut loops to provide texture or patterns. Most cut and loops are primarily cut piles with some loops left uncut for patterns; although a few styles utilize the opposite effect.
Cut Pile Carpet
Cut pile constructions can be used in both residential and commercial carpet
installations. However, cut piles are used far more widely in residential applications and comprise the largest share of the residential market. There are numerous subcategories of cut pile carpet. Each category provides a different appearance or finished look. The following categories of cut pile can be found when shopping for residential carpet.
- Saxony: This is a cut pile carpet in which two or more plies of yarn have been twisted and heat-set so that the tip of each carpet tuft is distinguishable on the pile surface. Saxonies have the tendency to show footprints and vacuum cleaner sweeper marks. This is based in light reflection of the fiber when pile direction is changed. When brushed in one direction, the pile may assume a darker hue, while adjacent yarns brushed in the opposite direction may present a lighter hue. When viewed in the opposite direction, color hues of darker areas will appear lighter. This is not a defect of any kind, but merely a characteristic of this carpet
- Plush: Sometimes called velvet because of the velvet or velour appearance obtained by using staple yarn (see fiber) and high-density construction. Plushes provide a more formal appearance than other cut pile constructions. They are subject to revealing vacuum cleaner sweeper marks and footprints due to light reflection similar to a saxony. Delustred (non-shiny) yarns may reduce this shade variation. Plushes tend to be more subject to pile reversal or water marking. Water marking is the result of permanent pile reversal in localized areas. Watermarking provides the appearance of a wet surface in darker shaded areas. The shape of these areas may appear irregular, which reinforces the appearance of a wet area. This is considered a normal occurrence for Plushes and is not considered a manufacturing defect. The occurrence of water marking may be a result of local conditions or other unknown causes. In previous examinations, products that have been replaced with similar problems develop watermarking in the same areas, suggesting local influences.
- Textured: Textured cut piles also may be called “trackless”, “foot-print free”, “stuffer-box”, and mistakenly, “frieze carpet”. These names describe the tendency of this construction to show fewer footprints and sweeper marks than other cut pile constructions. It should be noted that no cut pile can be classified as being completely free of shading. These constructions are obtained by stuffing yarn into a steam box (stuffer box) and providing a kinked or curled yarn. The fiber is exposed to live steam to set yarn memory in this curled position. This curling of the fiber reduces light reflectance, thus reducing the appearance of footprints. Generally, when viewing a texture from the top, kinked yarns may provide a two-tone effect as a result of shade variations from reflected light.
- Frieze Carpet: A true frieze
carpet is similar to a texture in that footprints and vacuum
cleaner marks are disguised. The textured appearance is acquired by placeing a high twist level on the plied yarns (see fiber). This high twist level causes the tuft to twist back upon itself providing a kinked appearance. In general terms, higher twist levels provide enhanced performance characteristics, when compared to lower twist products with the same construction attributes. True frieze carpet styles tend to be more costly because of higher costs of production and they may not provide the same perceived value as lower twist, textured products.
While other cut pile categories exist, these constitute the most popular styles of residential carpet. These include shag carpet – a low density, high pile height product popular during the 1970s. This construction tends to increase and decrease in popularity depending upon design trends. Also, multi-level cut piles, sometimes called carved saxonies, utilize higher and lower cuts to form patterns.