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(B): When this symbol appears after a carpet’s style name or number, this indicates the carpet features Berber style flecks. (See “Berber”)
Backing/Primary & Secondary Backing: Primary backing is what holds all the carpet yarns upright and in place making carpet manufacturing possible. Typically made of polypropylene, carpet backing is a rigid woven fabric providing both a primary base of support to the carpet yarns during the tufting process as well as a stabilizing touch when a secondary backing is applied to secure the yarns in place. A quality backing is the key to a carpet being securely attached to the tack strip and is instrumental in the overall structural integrity of the finished product.
Barber Pole Twist: Two different colored yarns twisted together to create a notable contrast just like the red against white in a barber pole. Usually found in frieze style.
Berber: While often used synonymously in reference to loop style carpet, this term actually refers to flecks of neutral earth toned colors randomly dispersed throughout a carpet. This term is in keeping with the nomadic Berber tribes who were known for weaving rugs using wool naturally flecked with earth tone colors. In modern carpet manufacturing, Berber flecks were traditionally found in loop style carpet hence the connection between the two references. With the advancement in carpet manufacturing, even today’s plush style carpet can be labeled as a Berber when flecked with earth toned colors.
Binding: Binding refers to finishing the edges of a piece of loose carpet to make an area rug. A band or strip can be sewn over a carpet edge to protect, strengthen or decorate the edge.
Broadloom: A term used to denote carpet produced in widths wider than 6 feet. Broadloom is usually 12 feet wide, but may also be 13 feet 6 inches and 15 feet wide.
Bulked Continuous Filament (BCF): Extremely long and continuous strands of synthetic fiber formed into yarn bundles of a given number of filaments and texturized to increase bulk and cover. Using BCF significantly reduces or can even eliminate the age old problem of carpet shedding associated with staple carpet yarn.
Cable: This cut pile-style carpet is made of thicker and longer yarn and is suggested for low traffic spaces. Heavy foot traffic can cause matting and crushing, so it’s not the ideal choice for hallways or stairways.
Cushion: Also referred to as “Carpet Pad”, cushion is any kind of material placed under carpet to provide softness and adequate support when carpet is walked upon. Without carpet cushion, you will quickly discover that carpet alone lacks the softness and comfort underfoot that cushion offers; furthermore, cushion provides added acoustical and insulation benefits as well as longer wear life for the carpet. Keep in mind, not all cushion is created equally. Inadequate cushion can feel like you’re walking on wafers, so be sure to have at least a density of a respectable 6 pound per cubic foot product. If the carpet is a Berber or a low profile carpet, choose a cushion of no more than 3/8″ thickness with 8 pounds of density. Today’s cushion products are also offered with a moisture barrier on the surface to prevent liquid spills and grit from working its way into the body of the cushion. This design feature allows for spills and grit to be extracted much more effectively with the power of professional carpet cleaning equipment. In busy households with small children and pets, a moisture barrier cushion is worth considering as part of your new carpet purchase.
Construction: The manufacturing method (i.e., tufted, woven) and the final arrangement of fiber and backing materials as stated in its specification.
Cut Pile: Cut pile carpet is the most popular choice for residential carpet installations and describes how the carpet pile is finished during the tufting process. During tufting, the yarns are stitched into the primary backing creating a formation of loops. When the goal is to create a loop carpet, the loops are left as they are stitched, but if the goal is to create open ended yarn, then the tops of the loops are cut off to create a cut pile carpet. A cut pile carpet is any carpet that has yarns that you can run your fingers through similar to being able to run your fingers through short cropped hair. Plush, texture, frieze, and shag carpet styles are all cut pile carpet.
Cut-Loop Pile: This carpet style combines both looped and cut pile techniques in the finished product. Implementing this technique opens the pathway for carpet designers to create a significant variety of patterns. See “Cut Pile” and “Loop”.
Delamination: Separation of the secondary backing from the primary backing of the carpet.
Density: Refers to how closely carpet yarns are tufted together into the primary backing. Think of density in terms of the number of tufted yarns per square inch. While density should be a consideration in any carpet purchase, as higher density carpets tend to perform better, remember to compare apples to apples. Basically, don’t compare a frieze to a plush as a frieze will typically not have as many yarns per square inch. While a durable carpet, the specific design feature of a frieze is a loose tousled hair look and will seldom be as dense as a plush carpet, however, friezes do vary in density so compare a frieze to a frieze when contemplating density. Likewise, compare plush to plush, texture to texture, etc.
Dimensional Stability: The ability of the carpet to retain its original size and shape, e.g. a secondary backing adds dimensional stability to carpet.
Direct Glue-Down: An installation method whereby the carpet is directly adhered to the subfloor. Commercial broadloom carpet and carpet tiles are designed to be glued to the subfloor.
Face Weight: A measurement in ounces determined by the amount of fiber per square yard. For example, a standard carpet may have a face weight of 35 to 45 ounces.
Flecked: Unlike the consistency of evenly dispersed color in a heathered carpet, flecked carpet has flecks of color that appear randomly within the staple color of the carpet. The (J) or (B) symbol will typically be present next to the carpet style name and number indicating whether the flecks are jewel toned or earth toned..
Fiber: The basic material that carpet yarn is manufactured from and can be synthetic or natural. Nylon, olefin (a.k.a. polypropylene), polyester and triexta are synthetic fibers. Natural fibers used to manufacture carpet are most commonly wool, silk and bamboo. It is estimated that 90% of carpet is made from synthetic fibers allowing carpet to be a much more affordable option than its natural counterparts.
Frieze: Pronounced “free-zay”, this is a cut-pile carpet that has a very high twist level, meaning that each strand of yarn is twisted so tightly that it actually curls over. The result is a very durable textured surface with a loosely tousled appearance.
Heathered: A multi colored carpet which is evenly peppered with at least two different colors. The result is evenly dispersed colors throughout the carpet.
(J): When this symbol appears after a carpet’s style name or number, this indicates the carpet is heathered or flecked with “jewel” tones, e.g.: sapphire, ruby, and emerald.
Loop Pile: This style is how all carpet begins and is often referred to as “Berber” or “round wire” carpet. Loop style carpet is created when carpet yarns are tufted into a carpet backing without cutting the surface of the yarns. At the end of this process, the visual and structural result is “looped” yarns.
Traditionally, loop carpet was manufactured with polypropylene yarn, but today’s loop carpet is also manufactured using nylon, polyester, and triexta yarn. Known for its durability, a well constructed loop carpet is an excellent choice for high traffic areas and is the primary style used in commercial carpet manufacturing.
Loop carpet offers a variety of looks from tiny to large loops, solids tones or multi colors, and integrates well into many design trends including rustic, traditional, and contemporary applications. Loop carpet is manufactured either as level loop or multi level loop.
Level Loop: All the loops are primarily the same size and height, creating a consistent or level surface with a textured appearance.
Multi-Level Loop: The loops will vary in size and/or height allowing for geometrical and abstract patterns.
Matting / Crushing: Occurs when fibers become bent, compressed, and entangled according to a few conditions. Namely, the use of improper cushion, the result of improper maintenance causing soil build up, and/or a carpet that has exceeded its life expectancy can lead to matting and crushing. Certain fibers are more susceptible to matting and crushing over time. Matting and crushing is often an irreversible condition if left unattended. Your best defense against this condition is frequently vacuuming and routine professional steam cleaning. It has been estimated that as a rule of thumb, vacuuming should occur at least one day a week for every person in the house. E.g. 5 people will require at least 5 days of vacuuming per week. Furthermore, most carpet manufacturers require professional steam cleaning at least every 18 months after installation to maintain the warranty.
Nap: A carpet or rug’s pile surface. During installation, it is important to have the nap running the same direction when carpet requires a seam or it will appear to have a variation in color. See also “Pile”.
Nylon: A synthetic fiber known for its durability and resilience.
Olefin: See Polypropylene.
Pile: The visible surface of carpet consisting of yarn tufts in loop and/or cut configuration sometimes called “face” or “nap”.
Pile Height: Tufted carpet yarns that are measured from the primary backing to the top of a carpet’s pile not including the thickness of the backing.
Pilling : A condition of the carpet face (which may occur from heavy traffic) in which fibers from different tufts become entangled with one another, forming tangled masses of fibers. Pills may be cut off with scissors.
Plush: A cut-pile carpet finished with all carpet fibers in the pile being cut at a uniform height creating level surface. The fibers are also tufted closely together creating a dense pile. See Saxony.
Ply: Ply or plied yarns are composed of two or more single strands of yarn twisted together. In carpet manufacturing, a yarn is twisted with other yarn to increase resilience and durability. The rule of thumb is that resilience and structural integrity increase the more plies are twisted together.
Power Stretcher: A carpet installation tool used to stretch carpet for installation.
Polyester: A synthetic fiber, often chosen for its bulkiness, color clarity, resistance to stains, and resistance to fading. Not as resilient as nylon therefore having a shorter life expectancy, but typically a more affordable option and otherwise great performer.
Polypropylene: A synthetic fiber whose Federal Trade Commission classification is olefin. While not as resilient or resistant to abrasion as nylon, it is naturally stain and fade resistant. Most often used in loop pile constructions.
Resilience: Ability of carpet pile or cushion to recover original appearance and thickness after being subjected to compressive forces or crushing under traffic. In layman terms, the ability of a carpet fiber to bounce back into shape after it has been walked on, rolled on, or simply been under crushing weight such as under a piece of furniture.
(S): When this symbol appears after a carpet name or style number, it indicates that product is available in solid colors. This symbol typically appears when a specific carpet is also offered with flecks of jewel or Berber tones. See also: (J), (B).
Saxony: Also referred to as “Plush”, saxony is a dense and uniform cut pile carpet offering a “traditional” look with a luxurious feel; however, this style is prone to showing vacuum trails and footprints.
Seams: In carpet installation, seams are formed by joining the edges of two pieces of carpet in an area that a single piece of carpet is too narrow to cover. Carpet seams are held together by the use of seaming tapes.
Seam Sealing: A procedure in which a continuous bead of adhesive is applied to the trimmed edges of carpet to be joined at a seam. Seam sealing prevents fraying and unraveling at the seam.
Serging: A method of finishing raw edges of carpet to create an area rug. This method involves sewing heavy, colored yarn around the edges in a close, overcast stitch.
Shearing: A finishing phase during the manufacturing process in which carpet is drawn under horizontally revolving cutting blades in order to produce a smooth face on the fabric.
Shedding: A natural process of any new carpet in which tiny strands of fiber come loose from the pile. This typically occurs with carpet manufactured using staple fibers. This process is often most noticeable the first few weeks of installation and becomes progressively better; however, in some cases, moderate shedding can continue for several months after installation. Frequent vacuuming will help alleviate the problem.
Sisal: A natural plant fiber used in mimicking the woven look of rugs. The pattern has the appearance of interwoven webs but is created on a tufting machine by continually adjusting the height of each pile yarn.
Soil Retardant: A chemical finish applied to fibers or carpet surfaces that inhibit the attachment of soil.
Solution Dyed: When dye is added to synthetic carpet fibers during its solution (liquid) phase creating a natural stain resistance property.
Sprouting: The protrusion of individual tufts or yarn ends above the pile surface. This can be alleviated by clipping with scissors.
Staple: Short lengths of carpet yarn generally six to eight inches long. “Staple” yarns are the traditional yarn used to make cut pile carpet. While today’s cut pile carpet is currently offered more frequently in BCF, the staple yarn is still in use today as an affordable alternative to BCF. While a staple carpet can be a structurally sound and durable carpet, it is known to shed; hence, BCF is a more desirable feature in a carpet.
Stitches: Stitches per inch. Number of yarn tufts per running inch of a single tuft row in tufted carpet.
Stitch Rate: A measurement in tufts in a given length of carpet (usually an inch) that describes the density of yarn. Controlled by how fast carpet is moved through the tufting machine. Seven to eight tufts per inch is a quality measurement, while three or four per inch is fairly poor.
Synthetic: A man-made product that uses chemical compounds in its creation versus natural materials. Over 90% of carpet today is made of synthetic fiber – typically nylon, polypropylene, polyester, and triexta. All fibers are manufactured from a similar chemical processes that uses oil and natural gas.
Textured: A popular cut pile carpet which is more loosely tufted than its cousin “plush”. While the pile is uniform in length like plush, it has fewer tufts per square inch to create a more casual look, but resilience and durability are maintained through tight twisting and a slight curl set by heat into each fiber. This style is known as a “Trackless” carpet due to its footprint hiding property.
Tone on Tone: This is the same concept as heathered carpet when multi tones are evenly peppered throughout the carpet, but is limited to two colors within the same color family – i.e. light tan and darker tan.
Transition / Transition Piece: The spot where two different floor coverings meet — i.e. carpet and hardwood floor. At these sections, transition pieces are used to create an attractive and less noticeable transition from one flooring to the next. Transition pieces can be made of metal, but in cases of transitioning between two different hard surfaces such as wood to tile or laminate to tile, the transition piece usually will be a coordinating product with the wood or laminate. A small gap is left between hard surfaces to insert the transition piece.
Tuft: Whether the finished result of the carpet is cut pile or loop, every stitch of carpet yarn into the primary backing creates an individual tuft. Of course, a single tuft cannot stand alone and is one of many tufts stitched into perfect rows to create carpet. More tufts per square inch equals a denser carpet.
Tufting: This is a phase in the carpet manufacturing process when carpet yarn is securely stitched in perfect rows into a carpet backing. Tufting creates numerous individual tufts of carpet yarn, but all the tufts together create the pile. .
Twist: The number of turns per inch and the direction of turning of the plied yarns that are used to create tufts. Twist is secured with heat setting and, typically, the greater the twist the greater the resilience and structural integrity of the tuft. Most carpets range between 2.5 and 6.0 turns per inch (TPI). The approximate twist level must match the yarn size and the textural effect desired. When purchasing carpet, twist should be considered in proportion to the years you desire to get out of a carpet.
Wool: The coat of a sheep and the original staple fiber used in the manufacture of carpet. Since wool is a natural fiber, it ranges in color from off-white to black, with a number of earthen tones between. Although wool doesn’t stand up to abrasion and moisture as well as synthetics, it cleans well and is known to age gracefully. Wool is the most expensive carpet fiber and represents less than one percent of today’s U.S. market.
Woven: Carpet produced on a weaving loom in which the lengthwise yarns and width wise yarns are interlaced to form the fabric, including the face and the backing.