The first thing you need to know about carpet styles and fibres is the difference between tufted and woven carpet. Tufted carpet consist of rows of machine-punched yarns held together by adhesive and a backing. Woven carpets, made on a loom, are known for their long life span and higher price point due to the higher quality.
Next is identifying styles of pile and what you should know about them. A carpet or rug’s “pile” refers the type of fibres – the top of the carpet that you walk on. The yarn that makes up a carpet becomes easy when you see samples up close. Pile is sheared for “cut pile” or left intact for “loop pile.” A combination is called “cut-and-loop pile.”
Axminster is a woven cut-pile carpet, long-wearing, may look more industrial, but tends to be more affordable.
Coir is the fibre taken from the husk of a coconut. It is durable, mildew-resistant and wiry and course to the touch.
Frieze is cut-pile with twisted yarns appearing crimped, obscuring footprints and vacuum marks very well.
Jute flooring, made from the jute, plant is softer than sisal but less durable, fades and stains easily.
Nylon is the most popular carpet fibre. It is known for its durability, comes in many colors and tends to be the more expensive of the synthetic fibres.
Olefin is a shiny synthetic fibre, water and stain-resistant, often used outdoors and is one of the less expensive synthetics.
Polyester has a wool-like look, is soft, stain-resistant, and dyes well, so often there are a wide range of colours to choose from. It is not as resilient as other carpet fibres and mats down in a short period of time.
Saxony has soft twist or curls and effectively conceals marks.
Shag has pile that is so long it falls over and looks “shaggy.”
Silk carpet is largely produced in China, India and Turkey. Silk is durable, dyes better and is often blended with wool, giving a soft and luxurious look.
Sisal comes from the agave plant and is strong (second only to wool), prone to fading and can be stained easily.
Velvet is soft with a short pile, dense and uniform, exposing indents and tracks and tends to have a matte finish.
Wilton is the premier woven carpet and can come in cut, loop or cut-and-loop pile.
Wool fibres are naturally superior to synthetic fibers, are strong, static-resistant, naturally stain-resistant, hypoallergenic, flame-retardant, more costly but long wearing.