Alan Fletcher - Carpet Expert and Consumer Advocate
You Need to Understand Carpet Specifications
carpet is a major homeowner expense and many homeowners buy the wrong grade of
carpet and end up making a very costly mistake. If you want to make a wise
carpet selection and be sure to get your full monies worth, you need to know
what carpet grade or quality level of carpet you need to buy for your home.
Carpet Manufacturing Specifications Explained
Carpet Specifications is the ONLY sure-fire way for you to know if the carpet
you are buying is able to tolerate the level of foot traffic you have in your
home and about how long you can anticipate it will last and retain its like-new
the wrong grade of carpet and it WILL certainly wear out faster than you
anticipate and you will not be happy with the outcome. Take
my free Carpet Foot-Traffic
Test to see where you stand.
locating all the carpet specifications you need to help you make wise and
informed carpet-buying choices can be difficult, if not nearly impossible,
depending on where you live and where you plan to shop for carpet. Some carpet manufacturers are
reluctant to freely provide carpet specifications to their dealers and their
When it comes to Pile Height, Pile Density and Face-Weight...this
might not be a big problem if
you can find or even closely guesstimate two out of three carpet specs, then you can easily figure
out the third specification...Using simple mathematics!
I explain in detail what you need to do, and how you can quickly and easily
figure out all the carpet specifications you need to acquire, even if the
dealers refuse to give
you hardly any information at all!
First lets explain the three main carpet
specifications that are typically hardest to find:
1. Carpet Pile Height:
The Pile Height measurement is not
usually shown on the carpet sample, however all you need is a tape measure.
Don't include the carpet backing, just the soft fibers from the backing up.
Convert the measurement into a decimal for calculating purposes.
Example= One half inch (1/2") is equal to
See chart below
Decimal to Inches (fraction) Conversion Table
0.125 = 1/8
0.1875 = 3/16
0.250 = 1/4
0.3125 = 5/16
0.375 = 3/8
0.4375 = 7/16
0.5625 = 9/16
0.625 = 5/8
0.6875 = 11/16
0.750 = 3/4
0.8125 = 13/16
0.875 = 7/8
1.0000 = 1"
I generally recommend a pile height of less
than 3/4" to help reduce the chance of matting and crushing of the
pile. Why? A shorter Pile-Height makes for a much
more durable carpet, it makes the carpet much easier to clean and makes the
carpet more stain resistant and less prone to matting and crushing of the
example, we all know that commercial grade carpets usually have a very short
pile height and have a dense pile. They can tolerate heavy foot traffic for
decades and are easily cleaned time and time again. This is the recipe for
success used in offices, airports and banks all across America.
Looped-Berber Carpet Styles
Berber styles are best when the loops are smaller and tightly packed together.
Large loops tend to fall over and look worn out very quickly. Inexpensive looped
Berber styles tend to have larger loops and are typically made from Olefin,
which a durable fiber but hard to keep clean fiber (it tends to attract
grades of looped Berber styles are typically made from Nylon and have smaller
loops and are much more durable and easier to keep clean. Nylon Berber styles
are often 4 times as costly as a Berber made from Olefin, however a Nylon Berber
will easily last at least 4 times longer and retain its like-new appearance much
longer too. A good quality Nylon looped Berber style will cost about $20 to $35
plus pad and install.
styles require a special padding that is more dense with a lower profile.
For example a good quality Rebond padding, 1/4" to 3/8" thickness and
a density of at least 8 pounds. Some prefer a rubber pad or a synthetic fiber or
wool pad for basements.
How to choose the
2. Carpet Pile Density:
Pile Density is a mathematical calculation based
on fiber Face-Weight and Pile Height. Think of a heavily wooded forest. The more
closely packed together the trees are, the more dense the forest is. The same
goes for carpet. You want a carpet with the tufts packed tightly together. This
helps the carpet resist matting and crushing of the pile and increases
longevity. Pile Density is the most important
factor next to Fiber Type.
3. Carpet Face-Weight:
Face-weight is the actual weight of the fiber
used to manufacture the carpet pile, but does not include the weight of the
carpet backing. Fiber Face-weight is not the same as Total Carpet Weight,
which includes the weight of the carpet backing and the fiber face-weight.
carpets have a face-weight somewhere between 20 ounces and 100 ounces, but the
average face-weight for a residential carpet is about 35 to 60 ounces. A
higher face-weight does not automatically mean the carpet is a better grade; is
a higher quality; is more durable; or is more costly.
these three carpet specs are mathematically related which is good news for you. If you can figure out
one, or two out of the three specs, then you can easily figure out all the other
specifications using the formulas I reveal below! Don't worry about the number 36 or what it means, as
it is a constant industry factor with all these calculations.
Out Carpet Specifications by Yourself
assume you don't know what the Pile Density rating is of a carpet you
are interested in buying, but you do know the Face-Weight
and Pile Height.
assume you don't know what the Face-Weight rating is of a carpet you
are interested in buying, but you do know the Pile Height
and Pile Density.
assume you don't know what the Pile Height is of a carpet you are
interested in buying, but you do know the Face-Weight and
the Pile Density.
Let's assume you don't know the
Tuft-Twist rating of a carpet you are
interested in buying.
Rule # 1:
Face-weight is usually a number between
1 and 100
Pile Height is a Fraction
turned into a decimal (like .75 for 3/4").
Decimal to Inches (fraction) Conversion Table above)
Face-Weight x 36
÷ Pile Height = Pile Density
(e.g.) (30 X 36
÷ 0.50 = 2160)
this example, what we know is that the face weight is 30 ounces
and the pile height is 0.5 (one half inch). We can now use Rule
#1 to determine the Pile Density Rating.
x Pile Height ÷ 36 = Face Weight
(e.g.) (2160 X 0.50 ÷
36 = 30)
this example, what we know is that the Pile Density is 2160 and the
pile height is 0.5 (one half inch). We can now use Rule #2
to determine the Face-Weight in ounces.
÷ Density x Face-weight = Pile Height
(36 ÷ 2160 X 30 = 0.499998 (0.5))
In this example, what
we know is that the Pile Density is 2160 and the Face
Weight is 30 ounces. We can now use Rule #3 to determine
the Pile Height in decimals, which can quickly be converted into a
fraction of an inch using the chart below.
, 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 these strands are twisted, heat is applied to "set" them
permanently, hence the term "heat set" or "perm".
is very similar to the way women might use a curling iron to create and set
curls into their hairstyles. The tighter the tufts are twisted together
the longer the carpet is able to maintain its "like-new" appearance.
is not difficult to guesstimate the number of Tuft-Twists of a carpet you are
considering. Tuft-Twist is really quite simple. When
you look at a carpet you can look closely at the tuft and easily count the
number of twists
yourself. You just need to know that it is based on the number of twists
per lineal inch of tuft.
are Tufts that are one-inch long.
I have used two colors to show the number of twists.
Tuft Twist Rating is based on the number of twists per lineal inch of
Tuft has 7 twists and is a sign
of a well-made carpet. Frieze styles have tufts similar to this and cost about $30 per square yard on average, or $3.33 per
Tuft has 4 twists and is not as
good. This is a sign of a lower-grade carpet. Inexpensive Plush and Textured
Plush styles often have tufts similar to this and range from $10 to $20 per
square yard or $1.11 to $2.22 per square foot. More expensive styles have higher
is Tuft Twist So Important?
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 per lineal inch) and is why they are well-known for their
durability and retaining a like-new appearance longer than many other styles.
When you look at a potential carpet to buy you can look at the tuft and count
the twists yourself. Looped Berber carpets have twisted tufts too, but it is
very hard to count them with the naked eye. Most looped Berber styles will state
the Tuft Twist Rating posted on the back of the carpet sample or shown on the manufacturer's spec sheet. (ask
few important facts no one else will
you want your carpet to last longer, I recommend a Carpet Pile Height of less
the 3/4". On stairs, I recommend a Carpet Pile Height of 1/2" or
less and a Carpet Padding thickness of 7/16" or less and a Pile Density Rating
of at least 8-pounds.
Learn more about Carpet Padding
with a lower Tuft Twist Rating (of 3 to 5), tend to untwist or “blossom”
at the tuft tips more quickly, thus creating a worn out, frizzy looking or
matted down appearance. Carpets rarely wear out from the loss of fiber, they
just start to mat down; gradually lose the luster and shine; and just start to
look bad or ugly. Once the tufts have blossomed and become matted down, it cannot be
reversed or repaired.
more... Carpet Manufacturing Specifications Explained
Tuft Twist Rating is based on the number of twists per lineal inch
of the tuft. A tuft that is only a half inch long you would need to
double the twist count to figure out what the twist rating is. Still, it's
fairly easy to guess the number of twists with the naked eye. Compare with
other known-specs carpet samples and view side by side.
Tuft Twist count usually range from 3.0 to 7.5. Lesser quality carpets will
have a lower number of Tuft Twists.
higher the Tuft Twist the longer your new carpet will retain its like-new
"Blossom" or blooming is a common
carpet condition where the Tuft begins to un-twist and starts to look
worn out, matted down and ugly!
carpets with a lower Tuft twist rating may feature a higher pile density to
try to compensate. This enhanced Pile Density will certainly help increase
the carpet longevity and durability to some degree. Manufacturers
of Polyester and PET Polyester carpets often use this strategy to lower
costs and increase carpet durability with limited results. You will find
that carpets made from PET Polyester and Polyester fibers are often less
expensive than a Nylon counterpart and yet are softer and offer more pile
density than Nylon. This is because Polyester is very inexpensive to
manufacture. This is why they can afford to create a carpet that is more
dense and less costly.
and Polyester are very soft fibers however they are not very resilient. This
means they are inherently prone to matting down and crushing of the pile in
medium to heavy traffic applications. If you want your carpet to last a long
time and you have medium to heavy foot traffic, the you should avoid any
carpet made of P.E.T. Polyester or Polyester. I would also discourage you
from buying PTT, Triexta, Sorona, aka Mohawk Smartstrand if you have a
Moderate to heavy traffic application. P.E.T. is
an abbreviation that has nothing to do with your pets, it stands for
Polyethylene Terephthalate, a plastic commonly used to manufacture plastic
water or pop bottles.
is the most durable and most resilient fiber used to make carpet, second to none.
It is more costly to manufacture and it is not quite as soft as a P.E.T or
Polyester or the Smartstrand (aka PTT or Triexta) fiber. However Nylon will typically last years longer
if properly cared for and will resist matting and crushing of the pile
better than any other fiber.
Learn more about carpet fibers Carpet Fibers - What Consumers Need to Know
Warranties - What Consumers Need To Know
Carpet warranties are not very good. It's an eye opening
experience to read a Carpet warranty. There are so many limitations and
exclusions, and it's easy to see that they word it in such a way as to make it
very difficult for homeowners to substantiate a valid warranty claim. You must
also follow their care and maintenance instructions and requirements to the letter
or risk voiding the warranty altogether. Don't buy any carpet based
solely on the warranty limits alone.
Learn more about Carpet
Homeowners Need To Know About Carpet
Selecting the right Carpet Fiber is the most
important factor of all.
the Right Carpet Fiber for You!
is fiber denier?
and Triexta PTT fibers
(also called polypropylene) fibers
and Wool Blended fibers
Carpet Specifications Explained
Understanding Carpet Specifications