Many homeowners choose to install carpeting in their homes since it is often a cheap and attractive flooring option, and also helps to insulate the floor, keeping the house warmer. In other cases, it may be used as a decorative accent in the form of a throw rug. There are many types of carpet available, and all options should be considered when a homeowner is thinking of replacing his or her flooring.
The surface of a carpet is called the pile, and is created either by weaving or by tufting strands of fiber through a pre-woven backing. Carpet that is woven will be more durable, but it is also more expensive, because the process takes longer. Various pile types are available, but they break down into three categories: cut pile, loop pile, and cut and loop carpeting. Within each category, there are a number of variations.
Cut pile carpeting is made by shearing the pile to make a series of tufts. There are three basic types of cut pile, starting with frieze or trackless carpet, which is cut in such a way that minimizes the appearance of tracks, and it is a good choice for high traffic areas of the home. Saxony cut pile is more level, and will show tracks slightly more. Plush carpet has thick clusters of long tufts, and it is the softest of this type of carpeting, but it also shows tracks and collects more dirt, which means that it does not do well in busy areas of the home. It is a good choice for bedrooms and formal rooms.
Loop carpet is made with loops of fiber pushed through the backing. It tends to be used in many industrial applications because it is cheaper than cut pile, as it does not require as much fiber. Berber is a type of loop pile, and is a great choice for many areas of the home. Some manufacturers also make multi-level loop pile, which has a textured and more plush appearance.
Cut and loop pile carpeting mixes both techniques. It is commonly used to create a textured effect or pattern, and it is usually not suitable for areas that are heavily used, because the cut pile portions will start to deform. For throw rugs or little used rooms, however, cut and loop pile works very well.
After selecting the type of carpet desired, there are a number of fiber options, starting with wool. Wool is the traditional material for carpeting, and it has been used for thousands of years. This fiber is soft and stands up well to hard use, although it is more expensive. There are several other natural options, such as cotton and sisal, for throw and area rugs, but these materials wear less well. Synthetic fibers are also used, with nylon being the most popular. Nylon is hard wearing, easy to clean, and can offer a bright array of colors. Olefin has excellent mildew and stain resistance, while polyester is soft and brightly colored; both of these synthetics have poor durability, however.