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How to Buy Carpet - Carpet Specifications

© Alan Fletcher - Carpet expert, Consumer advocate

What every homeowner needs to know about Carpet Specifications! Including: Tuft twist, Pile height, Carpet pile density and Face-weight. Learn all Your Carpet ABC's here!

 

The Carpet "Specification" Label

On the back of every carpet sample there should be a manufacturer's label that shows the Type of Fiber used to make the pile, the Pile Density rating and the Face-weight of the pile. 

Other information shown on the label should reveal which anti-stain or anti-static treatments have been applied, the manufacturer's brand and the style and color names. 

This is the "critical information" every homeowner MUST have to determine how durable the carpet is and whether or not it would be a good choice for your needs, goals and lifestyle. 

If the label is missing, or does not provide all the information you need then you need to ask the salesperson to provide you with the carpet specification sheet. The salesperson may have to call the manufacturer to get it, or call the carpet mill representative to obtain the information you need. 

The salesperson said carpet specifications are not available anymore! 

To my knowledge, only one carpet manufacturer refuses to provide carpet specifications to their dealers, and that mill is Karastan. All other carpet makers are willing to provide carpet specifications to their dealers either by phone, by fax or on the internet. You may have to be patient and give the salesperson time to get the information for you and it may take a day or two. If your salesperson refuses to get you the information you need, then you might want to shop elsewhere.

 

How is Carpet Graded?

Carpet is graded by the quality of materials used, the fiber type, the fiber face weight, the tuft twist, the pile density, the pile height and how well it is constructed overall (Including Dye methods, backing systems and manufacturing processes). Determining which carpet is the absolute best choice for a particular application can be quite difficult for even a seasoned carpet salesperson. 

 

Carpet Density

Carpet pile density is the key to having a carpet retain its like new appearance longer. The higher the density the more durable the carpet will be. 

The Density rating is determined by pile yarn weight, pile thickness and pile height. Think of it like a densely wooded forest where the trees are thick and close together. Dig your fingers into the pile of the carpet. Are the fibers tightly packed or are your nails digging into the backing of the carpet?  Have you ever squeezed the Charmin? Then you know that some rolls of tissue are definitely more dense than others. The same holds true with carpet. The more densely the tufts are packed together the more durable the carpet will be. 

Pile Density ratings range from 1000 to 6000 and is determined by a mathematical formula based on the Pile Height and the Face-weight. Here is the formula: Fiber face weight x 36, divided by pile height (in decimal form) = Pile Density. For example, a 35 ounce face weight carpet with a half inch pile height would have a pile density rating of 2520 (35 x 36 divided by .5 = 2520). 

Take my free carpet foot traffic test to see what grade of carpet may be best for your application and foot traffic level. 

Take my Free Carpet Foot Traffic Test

 

 

Carpet Tuft Twist Ratings

The Tuft Twist is a major key to having your carpet retain its like-new appearance longer. 

With plush styles of carpets, the tufts of fibers are twisted in the same way that people curl their hair. The carpet fibers are grouped together into tufts and twisted while heat is applied to "set" the fibers permanently, hence the term "heat set". 

Carpet fiber, also called yarn, is either extruded or twisted to form a single strand or "filament", These filaments are similar in size to a human hair. A bunch of filaments are grouped together and twisted together to form Tufts. While the strands are twisted, heat is applied to "set" them permanently, hence the term "heat set". This is very similar to the way women might use a curling iron to create curls in their hairstyles. The tighter the Tufts are twisted together the more durable the carpet will be and the longer the carpet can maintain its like-new appearance.

This tuft has 7 twists and is a sign of a well-made carpet.

 

 

This tuft has 4 twists and is not as good and is a sign of a lower grade of carpet

 

 

The Number of Tuft Twists is an important key to making sure your carpet retains its like new appearance longer. Frieze styles tend to have a higher tuft twist (over 6) and is why they are well-known for their durability and retaining a like-new appearance longer than many other styles..

  • The Tuft Twist Rating is based on the number of twists per lineal inch of tuft. 

  • The Tuft Twist numbers usually range from 3.0 to 7.5

 

What makes a Carpet appear "worn out" fastest?

Carpets with a low Tuft Twist Rating (3 to 5) tend to untwist or “blossom” at the tuft tips more quickly thus creating a worn out or matted down appearance. This is called "Ugly Out" Carpets seldom wear out, they ugly out. Meaning the tufts have blossomed and have matted down to make the carpet look bad.

For this reason a Carpet with a higher Tuft Twist will retain its like-new appearance longer and tolerate a higher level of foot traffic. When comparing carpets side by side, you must consider the Tuft Twist to help you determine which carpet is the better choice. Carpets with a lower Tuft Twist tend to "blossom" more quickly and as a result will appear worn out sooner. 

Study this chart to better understand how carpet quality is determined in part by the number of twists each tuft has. Most frieze styles have a high tuft twist rating of at least 6 or more. That's one reason why frieze carpets tend to wear better and last longer than many other styles. 

 

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Learn More About Buying New Carpet Wisely!

Q. Should I Buy New Carpet or Have My Old Carpets Cleaned?    Best Carpet for Kids Dogs Cats & Pets

All State Verify Contractor License Requirements   Carpet Specifications - Face weight, carpet density, tuft twist   Basic Carpet Installation

How to Buy Carpet Wisely in Today's Marketplace   How Much Does Carpet Cost?    Common Consumer Carpet Buying Mistakes

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