The ABCs of Carpet Terminology
Sometimes when you’ve been inside an industry for more than a couple of year – like I have in the carpet and flooring industry – there’s a tendency to assume that you speak in the same language as your customers. It occurred to me the other day, most homeowners or business owners do not have the same grasp on flooring terms that industry folks have.
As such, I decided to write a quick blog explaining some of the terms that consistently pop up in conversations with customers. In face-to-face conversations with my customers, I love talking about carpeting and explaining the various terms we use. I think it’s the inner coach in me that enjoys these types of discussions.
Realizing that many of my customers and prospective carpet customers now do a lot of shopping over the Internet, I thought it would be useful to define some of those terms here too.
In short, this is aimed at helping put you on a level playing field when shopping for carpet.
- Backing: This is the back of the carpet, which can be divided into two parts: primary and secondary backing. Primary backing provides the structure for the tufts of carpet. The secondary backing provides a barrier from the carpet padding and floor. Backing can be made from natural or synthetic materials. Also, recycled materials are becoming more and more common. There are anti-mold backings available
- Bulked continuous filament (BCF): One of two processes of manufacturing carpet. In this method, one continuous fiber is used and weaved throughout the backing.
- Carpet cushion: Another name for carpet padding.
- Crush: Bending down of the carpet fibers, usually due to heavy traffic or heavy furniture. Crushing is often irreparable. This can be a carpet cleaner’s headache. People call claiming their carpet is dirty, but it is really crushed. Crushed carpet reflects light in a way that makes it look soiled and worn out.
- Fiber: The basic material with which carpets are made. Since it is the building block of the carpet, the fiber is very important.
- Matte: Another name for crushing. It is an often irreversible bending of carpet fibers that results in a dirty and worn out appearance.
- Padding: The layer of cushion that is installed between the floor board and the carpet. Most people are aware that carpet padding will determine how soft and comfortable their carpet is to walk on, but many fail to realize that the padding is a very important part of your carpet purchase. To ensure you don’t sell your carpet short, we’ve included a whole section on the carpet padding. Read it and you will know how to buy padding to maximize your budget and your carpet life.
- Pile: The visible part of the carpet. This consists of yarn tufts and is the portion of the carpet that is walked on.
- Cut pile: A common style of carpet where the loops are cut leaving straight tufts of carpet.
- Loop pile: A carpet style where the loops are left uncut. Many Berber carpets have loop pile.
- Pile height: The height from the carpet backing to the top surface of the carpet.
- Resilience: The ability of a carpet to resist crushing.
- Seam: The line where two pieces of carpet join. Most carpet is produced in 12-foot wide rolls (13’6” and 15’ are also options). Any room wider than the width of the carpet will have a seam. For this reason, avoiding seams is rarely possible. However, the best carpet installers have a knack for installing the carpet in such a way that it hides the seams as much as possible.
- Seconds: Carpet that has a defect. The defect can be anything from a large bleach spot to a small snag in the pile.
- Stapled fibers: One of two processes of manufacturing carpet. In this option, individual tufts are attached to the carpet. It is normal for these carpets to shed fuzz when they are new. The carpet has to be vacuumed regularly to clean up the fuzz. This shedding process should not last longer than six months.
- Synthetic: A man-made material. Most carpet fibers are made from synthetic materials.
- Tack strip: strips of wood with fine tacks used in carpet installation. Tack strips are installed at the edges of the room with tacks facing up. It anchors the carpet in place by two mechanisms: the carpet is jammed between the tack strip and the wall and the tack strips are securely snagged into the backing of the carpet.
- Tufts: A group of carpet fibers wound together to make individual groups of fibers. One of the initial parts of the manufacturing process is to weave yarn into tufts. These tufts are installed into the carpet. You can visualize each tuft as an individual piece of the carpet, whether it’s a loop as in Berber or an upright group of fibers.
Hope this helps.