Carpet Construction Basics

How a carpet is constructed is a big factor in how well a carpet will perform. Arming yourself with a little knowledge about carpet construction will help you select a carpet that will really meet your expectations as well as help you compare different carpets that are priced similarly and at first glance appear to be the same.

yarn twist

Yarn Twist - Appearance Retention

In most normal household situations carpet will ugly out well before the carpet ever really wears out. Generally this is caused by the carpet yarns loosing their original twist level and can no longer stand up to foot traffic like when they were new. Before buying carpet think about your personal expectations. How long you want the carpet to last? How will this room be used? Does it get a lot of traffic? Do you have pets and young children playing in this room?

The carpet you walk on is really made of hundreds of very fine, slender nylon filaments. The filaments are crimped, spun into yarn plies, then the plies are twisted together and heat-set into spools of yarn that are then tufted into carpeting. The better quality carpets today cost more because they have a much higher twist level and better heat setting of the yarn to lock in the twists. The more twist the longer the carpet should retain its like-new appearance under normal household conditions. Frieze carpets are a great example of a type of carpet with an extremely high twist level. The higher quality carpets also have better built-in soil and stain protection as well better warranties.

Note: Regular vacuuming and blotting up spills when they happen can dramatically improve the life of your carpet.

Pile Height

Pile height is determined by how high the yarn actually stands above the primary backing. The higher the yarn stands above the backing the more difficult it is for a carpet to perform well over time and foot traffic. If you want a plusher carpet with a higher nap than look for heavier carpets with a higher yarn twist level and more yarn stitches per inch. Lower pile height will generally be firmer and less prone to pile crushing. Loop piles can also crush easily if there is a big gap between the loops and the backing.

Carpet Yarn Density

Much like linens and other cloth fabrics the more carpet yarn packed in per inch the better the carpet should perform. Really dense carpets offer better performance and greater, long-term durability because the packed in yarns work together to help resist crushing and matting under foot traffic. A simple test is try to press your finger into the carpet pile and try to touch the backing. The harder it is to touch the backing the denser the carpet is.