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Berber Carpet

By Michael Hilton

Berber carpet has become one of the most popular carpet styles over the past several years. Like other carpet styles there is a wide variation in product quality and performance characteristics.

Prior to 1985, most Berber was constructed of nylon fiber and were subdued, beige tones. While lighter colors require more frequent cleaning, they clean and wear very well. DuPont StainMaster was started in late 1986. Prior to the StainMaster launch, few consumers would take the chance on buying a light colored carpet, because of soiling and staining tendencies. When StainMaster launched, many consumers started buying lighter carpet shades (even white) and the next three years became an unending blur of visiting every consumer's home (or so it now seems) home to explain that the Stainmaster treatment did not mean the carpet would not get dirty, it just meant that carpet cleaning would be easier. I remember telling more than 30 exasperated consumers, "Did you think that white carpet would not show dirt?"

Nylon and Olefin Berber

At about the same time as the Stainmaster launch, a number of olefin extrusion plants came on line and olefin (polypropylene) fiber capacity jumped considerably. Both nylon and olefin Berber have advantages. (See pile fibers.) Olefins resist all stains, with the exception of oil-based stains, but have the tendency to flatten or crush with time. In choosing an olefin Berber carpet, make sure you understand carpet construction. Olefin cleans remarkably well, but fibers tend to gray due to soil abrasion. Olefin Berber is one of the best carpet values in terms of cost.

Berber carpet made from olefin is easy to clean and has good wear characteristics. Nylon Berber carpet has become harder to find due to the popularity of olefin. They are a bit pricey due to their scarcity, but Nylon Berbers are treasures. To a true diehard carpet romantic, nylon Berbers now have the mystic formerly held by wool Berbers. New StainMaster fibers have made nylon Berbers easier to clean and stains are easier to remove, if immediate removal is attempted.

Fifteen Years of Berber

This description may sound like I have an affinity for nylon, but this is not necessarily true. This past weekend, I just cleaned my 11 year-old olefin Berber and much to my wife's disappointment, it seems to have 9 lives. My wife already has tired of the piece, but I am certain there are 11 more good years left. With a six-year-old, more than half its life has been a trial under fire (and Kool-aid, and cookies, and milk, and …) I actually have my wife convinced that the Berber in our family room is "test" carpet and if it is replaced prior to 15 years, we will have to pay a penalty for premature replacement. Actually, the penalty is related to installing new carpet with a spill-prone six-year-old.

In choosing the Berber I made all the right choices. Look for a high density construction with a crushing warranty (rare). This Shaw Carpet Berber (Cabin Craft) was a 55 ounce, four-ply olefin (most are two-ply) and was a high density construction. If all these terms are foreign to you, you probably haven't reviewed our carpet construction section.

While beautiful, many Berber carpet styles are difficult to install, even for a seasoned pro. Seams are rarely invisible and pattern match can be tricky. Always order 10-15% extra for pattern match and insist on a six-inch seam iron to minimize seam peaking.

Did you know?

Berber carpet has become one of the best selling carpet styles on the market. Berber carpet provides relatively easy carpet cleaning attributes and many provide good carpet stain resistance. Before buying Berber carpet, make sure you review The Carpet Buyers Handbook section on carpet fibers, carpet density, and carpet construction.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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