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Frieze Carpet

By Michael Hilton

Frieze carpet has been one of the most popular carpet styles for the last 20 years. Berber carpet and Frieze carpet remain the two best selling styles in the market today. One of the primary reasons that both of these carpet styles remain popular is that both are trackless carpet styles. Both Frieze carpet and Berber carpet hide footprints and vacuum cleaner sweeper marks. This does not mean that all Frieze carpets are foot print free, it simply means they "hide" foot prints better than tradition saxonies or cut pile carpet styles.

True Frieze

Many people confuse "true" frieze carpet styles with textured or trackless carpet styles sold as frieze carpet styles. To fully understand the differences you should review our carpet construction section, but chances are, you are simply shopping for a textured or trackless carpet style rather than a true Frieze carpet style. Most carpet wholesalers assume consumers want textured or trackless carpet when the consumer asks for Frieze.

A true Frieze has an extremely high carpet twist level. Each carpet tuft has two ply's of yarn that are twisted together. Most carpet styles have 3.5 to 5 turns (twists) per inch. A frieze may have 7-9 turns per inch and the high carpet twist level causes the carpet tuft to kink or turn back upon itself giving it a curled appearance.

A textured carpet or trackless carpet utilizes a different approach to achieve a similar appearance. These styles use a "stuffer box" yarn, which pushes (wads) yarn into a stuffer box and injects steam into the box, which sets a crimp into the yarn. A textured style may have a twist level of 3.5 turns per inch. After the yarn is wadded into the stuffer box (in a tight, wadded ball) and injected with hot steam, the yarn is forced out. This produces a curled effect. When the yarn is tufted into a blanket, the tips of the yarn, lay over, or are oriented in different directions. This directional difference redirects light reflectance and reduces the amount of footprints and vacuum cleaner sweeper marks shown as a result of light reflectance.

In cut pile carpet, straight set yarns or yarns in which texture has not been added, you can sweep your hand across the carpet pile and create a pile direction change. This change in pile direction can create a perception of color change due to a change in light reflectance of the change in pile direction. Even with stuffer box yarns some degree of color change can be noticed when pile direction is altered. Typically, the higher the carpet density of the stuffer box style, the more color change you may notice.

While the appearance of trackless carpet and Frieze carpet are similar, carpet cost of a true frieze is much higher, but the performance of frieze carpet is significantly better as well. Stuffer box styles have a greater tendency of losing it's texture due to foot traffic, than the texture (high twist level) placed in true frieze styles. While nylon fiber has good memory, the rigors of foot traffic tend to overburden these stuffer box yarns. In my own home, my Frieze is now moving into its 14th year, while the textured carpet styles are nearing the end of their second replacement. Of course, in comparing the cost per year, the costs were fairly similar, except for the monthly "I think it's time we changed the carpet color in our bedroom" from the wife.

The average carpet retailer may display 20 trackless carpet styles for every frieze carpet style on their showroom floor, and many carpet retailers may not display any true Frieze carpet styles because most consumers do not like their nubby, heavy textured appearance.

While the Frieze carpet name is used by many consumers to describe trackless carpet, the consumer may have to specifically ask for a "true frieze" when requesting Frieze carpet styles from carpet retailers. Most carpet retailers have grown accustomed to consumers incorrectly asking for Frieze carpet rather than textured carpet.

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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