Carpet Glossary

Axminster
A type of woven carpet and also a brand name, Axminster carpets are generally, although not exclusively made from wool rich blends and are usually patterned rather than plain. Their popularity has diminished as cheaper tufted carpet quality has improved.
Berber
Berbers are a distinctive, attractive and versatile variety of carpet that adapts well to any room decor. They can be loop or cut pile carpets and typically have a rugged, heathered colour appearance. Generally made from a wool blend, although cheaper manmade fibre versions can be found.
Blends
Refers to the blend of the yarns used in the face pile of the carpet; eg 50% wool / 50% polypropylene. Different blends have different characteristics and different uses.
Borders
Borders of contrasting colour or design can be seamed into a carpet to create an interesting visual effect. Most often used in long corridors and on staircases this style can add a great deal to interior decoration, although consider the additional costs of seaming carefully!
Fitting
There are different ways to install a carpet which depend on the location and type of carpet. The best advice you can get will be from your retailer who will almost certainly employ professional fitters who have undergone full training. Poorly fitted carpet can lead to premature wear.
Flattening
The process during which, after a period of use, the pile fibre becomes flattened. Usually caused in two ways - static pressure caused by heavy furniture over a long period of time or in heavy traffic areas. This is unavoidable but can be minimised by choosing a dense carpet where the fibres are packed in and so support each other. Using a high quality underlay will pay dividends as this will itself absorb some of the pressure and help the carpet fibres recover more quickly.
Foamback or Feltback
Where the carpet has a “built-in” layer of foam or felt which acts as an underlay. Usually found on cheaper qualities. Generally the carpet appearance will deteriorate more quickly as the built-in underlay is not as effective as a good quality normal underlay.
Gauge
This is a measurement of the number of stitches per inch or per centimetre across the carpet width. The more stitches present, the more dense the carpet is likely to be and this will have benefits in how well the carpet will last and perform.
Gripper
A wooden strip with upstanding sharp nails used to fit most tufted carpets in the home. The gripper is pinned or stuck to the perimeter of the room and the carpet stretched from wall to wall.
Guarantees
A big subject but do read what the manufacturer or retailer is offering. It’s good to know a manufacturer will guarantee his product - it means he trusts the quality!
Heather
An effect created by blending two or different coloured yarns together to create a patterned effect. Can be useful in hiding dirt or camouflaging wear and tear.
Jute backing
All tufted carpets have a secondary backing which is adhered to the back of the pile fibres to give additional stability and a firm backing to fit the carpet with.
Loop pile
Where the pile of a tufted carpet is left uncut to form a loop. Loop pile carpets are popular because they offer textural appearance. They tend to feel harder under foot and in some cases are not recommended for use on stairs.
Naturals
This generic term refers to any carpet with a “natural” colour i.e. beiges and pale shades.
Natural fibres
Carpet fibres produced from natural sources. Wool is the main carpet fibre used in the UK.
Nylon
The generic term is polyamide. Nylon can be used on its own or blended with wool fibres adding to the carpets durability.
Pile
The term used to describe the face yarn which is visible when the carpet is laid on the floor.
Pile weight
The weight of yarn per square metre of carpet.
Pile height
The term used to describe the length of the pile standing above the backing.
Pile reversal
This term is used to describe a phenomenon which is caused, so many believe, by natural and man made electrical energies which cause the pile of the carpet in certain areas to change direction. Often looks like a watermark. This phenomenon is not a manufacturing fault.
Polyamide
See nylon
Polypropylene
Generally used in low priced carpets this man made fibre represents good value for money and is inherently stain resistant. Not as durable as other fibres.
Polyester
Polyester is a man made fibre typically used for deep pile saxonies where luxury is looked for at a modest price. Not as durable as wool or nylon.
Pom
A tight bundle of carpet fibres usually used to show a colour before the carpet has been made.
Quality
The word can sometimes refer to different versions of a particular carpet e.g. a light wear or a heavy wear quality often linked to the pile weight of that carpet.
Saxony
A style of carpet usually of longer pile height than the usual twist. Ideal for any area where softness and luxury underfoot is required.
Seams
The term used to describe the joining of two carpet widths (or lengths) together to fit very large rooms. Modern seaming methods are strong and dependable.
Shags
A style of carpet usually of longer pile height than the saxony. Popular in the 1960’s this style has recently come back into fashion. The longer pile shags need to be combed and specific guidance should be obtained for their care and maintenance.
Shedding
This term describes how some carpets will naturally shed some fibres in the early stages of life. This is quite normal and you should not be unduly concerned.
Stain protection
A carpet treatment applied during manufacturing which helps protect the surface fibres from soiling and spillages.
Stitch rate
Along with “gauge” this is used to calculate the density of a carpet and is not normally quoted in the retail shop. Ask your retailer to explain this term and how it affects your chosen carpet.
Subfloor
A term used to describe the floor directly beneath any carpet or final floorcovering.
Textures
A term used to describe any floorcovering with a textured finish creating an interesting visual effect on the floor.
Tufting
The method of manufacture developed in the 1960s. More efficient and cheaper than woven carpets most modern carpets are made this way.
Twist Pile
The most popular style of carpet in the UK today usually denoted by its relatively short pile length - can be very durable in the right construction.
Underlay
The pad made from a variety of materials but usually rubber or felt, which helps cushion the carpet against wear. A good underlay will help prolong the life of your carpet.
Velvet Pile
Describes the appearance of a carpet. Velvet carpets are generally for luxury use and are not for every room or every lifestyle.
Weight
Often used to compare the merits of different qualities, the pile weight of a carpet is usually measured in grams per square metre. Ensure you are comparing figures of the same type if using this as a comparison.
Woven
Axminster or wilton carpets are woven types. Typically patterned and multi-coloured they are usually hard wearing but more expensive than equivalent good quality tufted carpets.
80/20
The most popular yarn construction used today. The 80% is usually wool and the 20% usually a synthetic yarn added to either improve the characteristics of the wool or to bulk it out.