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Carpet Terms 

Antimicrobial A chemical treatment added to carpet to reduce the growth of common bacteria, fungi, yeast, mold and mildew.

Antistatic The ability of a carpet system to dissipate an electrostatic charge before it reaches the threshold of human sensitivity.

Attached Cushion A cushioning material, such as foam, rubber, urethane, PVC, etc, adhered to the back side of a carpet to provide additional dimensional stability, thickness and padding.

Average Pile Yarn Weight Mass per unit area of the pile yarn including buried portions of the pile yarn. In the United States, it is usually expressed as ounces per square yard.

Backing Fabrics and yarns that make up the back of the carpet as opposed to the carpet pile or face. In tufted carpet:

  • Primary backing A woven or nonwoven fabric in which the yarn is inserted by the tufting needles.
  • Secondary backing Fabric laminated to the back of the carpet to increase dimensional stability.

In woven carpet, the backing consists of "construction yarns" which are interwoven with the face yarn.

Berber This looped-style carpet features bulky yarns with characteristic color flecks, produced in a level or multi-level loop construction. Most Berbers are manufactured from olefin (polypropylene) fiber, but some are made from nylon or a blend. 

Binding A band or strip 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 usuallly 12 feet wide, but may also be 13 feet 6 inches and 15 feet wide.

Bulked Continuous Filament (BCF) Continuous strands of synthetic fiber formed into yarn bundles of a given number of filaments and texturized to increase bulk and cover. Texturizing changes the straight filaments into kinked or curled configurations.

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.

Carpet Cushion Also referred to as “Padding", this is the cushion that lies between the carpet and the floor or foundation. The choice of padding determines how thick and soft a carpet feels underfoot. A quality cushion can preserve the carpet and provide it with improved protection against wear and tear.

Carpet Dying (Continuous Dyeing) The process in which color is applied to the carpet face by spraying or printing. Often used to create multicolor or pattern effects.

Construction The manufacturing method (i.e., tufted, woven) and the final arrangement of fiber and backing materials as stated in its specification.

Cut Pile A versatile tufted carpet that features clipped yarn loops. This type of carpet is soft and dense with well-defined individual tuft tips. Many dealers call their smoother finished carpets "plushes". New generation cut pile carpets resist stains and are less susceptible to traffic wear. It is the most widely used type of residential carpet.

Cut-Loop Pile A carpet fabric in which the face is composed of a combination of cut ends of pile yarns and loops.

Delamination Separation of the secondary backing or attached cushion from the primary backing of the carpet.

Density The measure of how tightly yarn is stitched into a carpet’s primary backing. Higher density carpet will normally wear better than lower density carpet.

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 adhered to the floor.

Double Glue Down An installation method whereby the carpet cushion is first adhered to the floor with an adhesive, and the carpet is then glued to the cushion.

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.

Fiber The basic material that carpet is manufactured from. Over 90% of all carpet made today is manufactured from synthetic fiber, predominantly nylon, but also olefin (polypropylene), polyester or proprietary fibers. The rest is natural fiber, most commonly wool, silk and bamboo.

Filament A single continuous strand of natural or synthetic fiber.

Finished Yarn Weight Yarn weight in ounces/square yard of a finished (after manufacturing process) carpet. The finished yarn weight is determined by removing all yarn from the finished carpet and dissolving any foreign non-yarn material.

Fluffing Appearance on carpet surface of loose fiber fragments left during manufacture: not a defect but a characteristic that disappears after carpet use and vacuming. Sometimes called "fuzzing" or "shedding".

Frieze Pronounced "free-zay" is a cut pile-style of carpet that has a very high twist level, meaning that each strand of yarn is twisted so tightly that it actually curl over at its end. The result is a textured surface with a nubby appearance and a highly durable product.

Fuzzing Hairy effect on fabric surface caused by fibers slipping out of the yarn with wear or wet cleaning.

Gauge The distance between two needle points expressed in fractions of an inch. Applies to both knitting and tufting.

Hand The tactile aesthetic qualities of carpet and textiles, how it feels to the hand.

Heat Setting The process that sets the twist by heat or steam, enabling yarns to hold their twist over time. Important in cut pile carpet. Most nylon, olefin and polyester cut pile carpets are heat-set

Indoor/Outdoor Carpet A term synonymous with outdoor carpet.

Level Loop The pile loops are of substantially the same height and uncut, making a smooth, level surface.

Loop Pile A carpet style that has a pile surface consisting of uncut loops. May be woven or tufted. Also called "round wire" in woven carpet terminology. Great for high traffic areas.

Luster Brightness or sheen of fibers, yarns, carpet or fabrics.

Matte/Crush The entanglement of fibers and tufts that results from weight and high traffic.

Miter Joint A junction of two pieces of carpet (or other material) at an angle. Most miter joints involve pieces at right angles to one another with their ends cut at 45 degrees to form the joint.

Nap A carpet or rug’s pile surface.

Nylon Nearly 75% of today’s carpet is manufactured from this synthetic polyamide, which is considered the leader in appearance retention, fade and heat resistance, soil and stain resistance and both color and styling.

Olefin See Polypropylene.

Pile The visible wear surface of carpet consisting of yarn tufts in loop and/or cut configuration. Sometimes called "face" or "nap."

Pile Crush Loss of pile thickness due to compression and bending of tufts caused by traffic and heavy furniture. The tufts collapse into the air space between them. This may be irreversible if the yarn has inadequate resilience or the pile has insufficient density for the traffic load. Frequent vacuming will lift the pile for longer carpet life.

Pile Height Measured from the surface of the back to the top of a carpet’s pile, not including the thickness of the back.

Pilling A condition of the carpet face (which may occur from heavy traffic) in which fibers from different tufts become entangled with one antother, forming tangled masses of fibers. Pills may be cut off with swcissors.

Plush Luxuriously smooth-textured carpet surface in which individual tufts are only minimally visible and the overall visual effect is that of a single level of yarn ends. This  finish is normally achieved only on cut-pile carpet produced from spun yarns by brushing and shearing. Sometimes called "velvet-plush".

Ply 1. A single-end component in a plied yarn. 2. The number that tells how many single ends have been ply-twisted together to form a plied yarn, e.g., two-ply or three-ply.

Polyester A fiber-forming, thermoplastic synthetic polymer, often chosen for its bulkiness, color clarity and resistance to stains and fading. Not as resilient as nylon, but a great performer.

Polypropylene Synthetic, thermoplastic polymer used for molded items, sheets, films and fibers. Federal Trade Commission classification is olefin. Today it represents more over 35% of the total fibers used in carpet manufacturing. While not as resilient or resistant to abrasion as nylon, it is naturally stain and fade resistant. Most often used in loop pile constructions.

Power Stretcher A carpet installation tool used to stretch carpet for installation with a tackless strip. According to industry standards, residential carpet, installed over a cushion with a tackless strip, must be power-stretched to prevent wrinkles and ripples.

Saxony A dense cut pile, usually made of plied and heat set yarns, so that each tuft end has a distinguished appearance. The result is a smooth, velvety, “traditional” look with a luxurious feel. Prone to vacuum trails and footprints.

Screen Printing A common method of carpet coloring, where color is applied from one to as many as eight silk-screens. Carpeting with photographs and custom artwork can now be achieved through this process.

Seams In a carpet installation, the line formed by joining the edges of two pieces of carpet by the use of seaming tapes, hand sewing or other techniques.

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 edges of area rugs by use of heavy, colored yarn sewn aroud the edges in a close, overcast stitch.

Shading A change in the appearance of a carpet due to localized distortions in the orientation of the fibers, tufts or loops. Shading is not a change in color or hue, but a difference in light reflection.

Shearing The manufacturing process in which carpet is drawn under revolving cutting blades, in order to produce a smooth face on the fabric.

Shedding A natural part of any new carpet in which individual fibers come loose from the base. Frequent vacuuming for the first few days will eliminate the problem.

Sisal A natural plant fiber used in minicking 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 inhibits the attachment of soil.

Sprouting The protrusion of individual tuft or yarn ends above the pile surface. May be clipped with scissors.

Staple Short lengths of fiber that may be converted into spun yarns by textile yarn spinning processes. These spun yarns ar also called "staple" yarns. For carpet yarns spun on the common, modified worsted systems, most staple is six to eight inches long. Staple fiber may also be converted directly into nonwoven fabrics, such as needlepunched carpet. 

Stitch Rate A measurement in penetrations or 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.

Stretch-In Installation procedure for installing carpet over a separate cushion using a tackless strip; properly performed with a power stretcher.

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 or polyester. All three are manufactured from a similar chemical processes that uses oil and natural gas.

Tackless Strip Wood or metal strips fastened to the floor near the walls of a room containing either two or three rows of pins angled toward the walls on which the carpet backing is stretched and secured in a stretch-in installation.

Textured A popular cut pile carpet with alternating crimp, loops or other modifications of yarn that results in a two-tone appearance. Textured yarns have increased cover, resiliency, abrasion resistance, and insulation.

Transition The spot where two different floor coverings meet — i.e. carpet and hardwood floor. Professional installers attempt to match surface heights to create a seamless passage from one to the other.

Tuft/Tufting The cut or uncut loop of pile fabric and the first step in the manufacturing of carpet. The tufting process begins with the weaving synthetic or staple fiber into a primary backing material.

Twist The number of turns per inch and the direction of turning of the pile fibers or ply or yarn strands placed together. Twist direction may be either right (Z-twist) or left (S-twist). 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. It is the manufacturer's responsibility to determine the twist level.

Underlay Carpet cushion under rugs.

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 withwise yarns are interlaced to form the fabric, including the face and the backing.

Yarn Dyeing Yarn that is dyed before being fabricated into carpet. Also known as “Pre Dyeing.”

Yarn Dyeing-Beck An alternative dyeing method used in the manufacturing of carpet that involves the application of color to yarn after the carpet has been tufted.

Yarn Ply The number of single yarns twisted together to form a plied yarn.