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Carpet Glossary S


a chemical that controls microorganisms. EPA Registers all sanitizers that reduce but do not eliminate all biological microorganisms. To qualify as a registered sanitizer the agent must reduce organisms by 99.9%. Sanitizers may qualify for as fungistats, bacteriostats, virustats. The suffix stat translates to limit or control as opposed to a disinfectant (cide--fungicide) which suggests 100% effectiveness of 100% kill.


a chemical reaction obtained by mixed an alkali and and oil to make a true soap. Modern synthetic soaps utilize a petroleum based oil and an alkali to form synthetic detergents. Bath tub ring is an example of saponification. In this example the body's natural oil combines with with alkaline detergents to produce a secondary soap that forms around the water level of a bath tub.


A cut-pile carpet texture of heat-set plied yarns in a relatively dense, erect configuration, with well defined individual tuft tips. Saxonies are denser and have more erect tufts than shags. Their tip definition is more pronounced than in singles plush, which is another dense cut-pile carpet style. Saxonies have generally displaced singles plush styles from the market place, and many dealers call their smoother finished saxonies “plushes”.


A carpet installation term for the method of transferring the exact irregularities of a wall, floor, or other surface onto a piece of carpet by a tracing technique. The carpet is then cut to fit exactly.

scrim back

A double back made of light, coarse fabric, cemented to a jute or Kraft cord back in tufted construction.


Any carpet pattern formed from high and low pile areas, such as high-low loop or cut-and-loop.


Area where two pieces of carpet are joined See back seams, face seams, side seams.

secondary backing

1. Woven or nonwoven fabric reinforcement laminated to the back of the tufted carpet, usually with latex adhesive, to enhance dimensional stability, strength, stretch resistance, lay-flat, stiffness, and hand. Most secondary backings are woven jute, woven polypropylene, or nonwoven polypropylene. The term is sometimes used in a broader sense to include attached cushion and other polymeric back coatings. Because secondary backing is visible, whereas primary backing is concealed under the pile yarn in finished carpet, most dealers and installers refer to the secondary backing simply as “backing”. 2. Material which is laminated to the back of tufted carpet, usually with latex adhesive, to enhance dimensional stability, strength, and stretch resistance. Today, this is almost 100% woven polypropylene although a little jute is still being used.


Off-quality, defective, or substandard carpet normally marketed at substantial price discounts as “seconds” or “imperfects” by manufacturers. If manufacturers’ first quality standards are high, seconds may represent excellent values. Generally there are different grades of seconds.


A pattern of two or more shades of the same color. When two shades are used in a pattern or design, it is called “two-tone”.


Carpet edges at sides of rolls.


Also known as “oversewing,” this is a method of finishing the cut edge of carpet. It is customary to serge the side and bind the end.

set or drop match

In a set-match carpet pattern, the figure matches straight across on each side of the narrow carpet width; in a drop match, the figure matches midway of the design; in a quarter-drop match, the figure matches one-quarter of the length of the repeat on the opposite side.


Apparent color difference between areas of the same carpet caused by normal wear and the resulting random difference in pile lay direction. It is a characteristic of all cut-pile carpet and is most pronounced in singles plush. It is not a defect. The physical cause is the difference between cut end luster and side luster of fibers. The sides of fibers reflect more light and appear brighter and lighter in color than the ends which absorb more light and appear to be duller and darker in color.


A deep-pile texture with long, cut surface yarns. Currently defined as having a pile height greater than 3/4 inch, with density not exceeding 1800.


Carpet manufacturing process for producing a smooth carpet face, removing fuzz, or creating random sheared textures. Carpet shears have many steel blades mounted on rotating cylinders which cut fibers on carpet surfaces in a manner analogous to a lawn mower cutting grass. Depth of shearing may be indicated by modifying word, e.g., defuzz and tip-shear suggest a shallow cut of the shear, whereas a full shear would imply a deep cut as used for producing mirror-finished plush.


A carpet having a high luster, usually produced by a chemical washing.

shooting or sprouting

Individual strands of yarn protruding above the surface of the pile. This condition is not a defect and the sprouting can simply be eliminated by clipping off the yarn. Never attempt to pull the yarn out.

short roll

A length of carpet roll goods shorter than a full shipping roll and longer than a remnant. Depending on carpet mill quality standards, it may be from 20 to 40 feet long. Shorts are usually sold by carpet mills at substantial discounts from first quality full roll mill prices, but higher than second quality prices.


The number of weft yarns in relation to each row of pile tufts crosswise on the loom. A 2 shot fabric is one having two weft yarns for each row of pile tufts; a 3 shot fabric has three weft yarns for each row of tufts.


In weaving, a boat-shaped, wooden instrument which holds the bobbin from which the weft yarns unwind as the shuttle passes through the warp shed.

side seams

Seams running the length of the carpet. Sometimes called length seams.


Natural animal fiber. Cultivated or wild.

skein dyeing

A technique which applies color to yarn. As the name suggests, yarn has sufficient strength and scuff resistance to withstand skein winding and backwinding onto tufting cones. The method is applicable to spun yarns, bulked, continuous filament yarns, heatset yarns, and non-heatset yarns of many fiber types. Although a high labor cost is involved, skein dyeing is especially suited to small volume production of custom colorations. Skein dyeing is economically attractive if combined with autoclave heatsetting. The plied, heatset skeins are dyed as they come from the autoclave, then rewound. This eliminates skein winding and cone winding costs. A modified skein dyeing process (hussong multicolor process) dyes various portions of the skein different colors, resulting in a yarn with various colored segments along its length. The rather long color bands are less random than those achieved by other space dyeing methods, but are used to advantage in multicolor cut-n-loop styles. solid color skein dyed yarns are primarily used in woven carpet and for accent colors in tufted graphic styles.


An intermediate stage in the production of spun yarns from staple fiber. It is a large, soft untwisted strand or rope of fibers produced by carding or pin drafting.

sodium hydroxide

A strong alkali (NaClO) also known as caustic soda or lye. Sodium hydroxide is often blended with an animal fat to produce True soap (see saponification). Lye sop was a combination of lye (sodium hydroxide) and animal oil or fats.

soil retardant

A chemical finish applied to carpet and fabric surfaces which inhibits attachment of soil to fiber. It is a topical treatment.

space dyed

Yarn dyed two or more colors which alternate along the length.

spin finish

a detergent (surfactant) added to fiber during fiber production to facilitate fiber production and protect fibers during the various phases of production. These lubricants may be used to cool olefin fibers and prevent melting due to friction of these low-melt fibers. If these lubricants are not completely removed during the dyeing or scouring process, they may cause rapid soiling of the finished carpet once it is placed into service. This finish also may create loom oil attachment.


A term for yarn or fiber production. To the fiber manufacturer, spinning is synonymous with extrusion of polymer through the small holes of the spinneret into synthetic fiber. To the conventional textile yarn mill, spinning is the conversion of staple fiber into spun yarn. See also fiber processing


Protrusion of individual tuft or yarn ends above the surface pile level of carpet.

spun yarn

A yarn consisting of fiber of regular or irregular staple length usually bound together by twist.


Soil that is not removable by standard cleaning methods.

stain blocking

The filling of unused dye sites eliminating many household staining problems.


Fiber in the natural, unprocessed state, usually in short lengths, which must be spun or twisted into yarn, as opposed to continuous filament. Most staple is six to eight inches long.

staple fiber

Short lengths of fiber which may be converted into spun yarns by textile yarn spinning processes. Also simply called staple. For carpet yarns spun on the common modified worsted systems, most staple is six to eight inches long.

static shock

Discharge of electrostatic potential from carpet to person to conductive ground, e.g., a doorknob. Shoe friction against carpet fiber causes production of electrostatic charge. Charges above 3500 volts may produce discomfort.

stay tacking

A carpet installation term for temporary nailing or tacking to hold the stretch until the entire carpet installation is stretched over and fastened onto the tackless strip. An important technique in large contract carpet installations which are too large to stretch in one step.


The number of lengthwise yarn tufts in one inch of tufted carpet.


stitches per inch. Number of yarn tufts per running inch of a single tuft row in tufted carpet.

stock dyed yarn

Colored spun yarn produced from fibers dyed in staple form.


Any lengthwise narrow visual defect in carpet. Dye streaks may be caused by a single pile end having different dye affinity from the others. Other streaks may be yarn defects such as tight twist, stretched yarn or yarns larger or smaller than the others. A moderate level of streaking is almost always present in saxony made from plied heatset yarns and should be considered characteristic of this style.


A carpet installation term for the amount of elongation of carpet when it is stretched over pad onto tackless strip. Generally one to two (2%) percent.

stria or striped

A striped effect obtained by loosely twisting two strands of one shade of yarn with one strand of lighter or darker shade. The single yarn appears like irregular stripes.


A small carpet sample. Carpet specifiers should retain swatches to verify color, texture, weight and other quality factors when carpet is delivered.

synthetic backing

A type of backing material using mostly polyester or polypropylene.

Did you know?

Buying carpet is the third most expensive consumer purchase. The Buying Carpeting section of the Carpet Buyers Handbook addresses a number of consumer questions, when shopping for carpet. Carpet benefits, carpet myths, how to budget for carpeting, carpet cushion selection, where to buy carpet, questions to ask when buying carpeting, carpet warranty issues, and carpet color selection are each discussed in detail. For questions related to Carpet R-value, acoustics, and safety issue visit our carpet benefits tab. For carpet myths, such as Kawasaki Syndrome, carpet allergies, and carpet chemical emissions visit our Carpet Myths section. For carpet measuring for installation, visit budgeting for carpet.