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Carpet Construction

We could write pages on carpet construction. Being educated on carpet construction allows you determine which carpets are well made and those that are not. Fortunately, you don’t need to know every detail. This report will guide you through what carpet shoppers need to know while sparing the useless details.


Face weight

Face weight is the weight (in ounces) per square yard of carpet. This gives you a good insight of the density of the carpet fibers, and therefore is a big factor of carpet durability. However, sometimes it can be a little misleading because the weight can be influenced by factors that do not affect the durability, the primary example being the height of the carpet fibers. In example, assume you’re shopping and come across two similar carpets. We’ll call them Carpet A and Carpet B. Carpet A has a higher face weight than Carpet B. What you don’t know is that Carpet A’s fiber length is double that of Carpet B’s. Despite having a lower face weight, it turns out that Carpet B is the dense, higher quality carpet.


Total Weight

A carpet’s weight including the tufts and the backing (primary, secondary and the lamination between) is the total weight. The weight of the backing makes up a significant portion of the total weight, but it gives us little to no insight on the durability of the carpet. Total weights will be much higher than face weights.


Density Rating

A carpet’s density rating is given by the following formula:

 [density rating] = [face weight]*36/[pile height]

Knowing the exact equation isn’t important. What is important is that the density rating takes the face weight and manipulates it so that the height of the fiber doesn’t factor into the number. This makes the density rating a more accurate indicator of a carpet’s durability. Density ratings are much higher numbers than face weights or total weights, so the three numbers cannot be compared.


Captain’s warning: There have been many reports of salesman “educating” customers on the weight of the carpet by telling them the total weight. Why would they do this if the number means so little? Simple. To mislead customers into thinking they are getting a heavier, better made carpet. This unquestionably dishonest and borderline scandalous tactic has diminished because exposed companies reputations plummeted in the industry. However, it is still something you want to watch for. In addition, there surely have been similar dishonest practices, so it’s a reminder that you need to educate yourself. That way you can make you own decisions instead of relying on the retailer having your best interests in mind.


Wear Rating

There are no specific standards for wear rating. It is usually a 1-5 rating system created by the manufacturer to indicate the durability of the carpet. Since the rating is created by the same company selling the carpet, it’s in your best interest to not put too much stock in this rating. Reading this website should allow you to make a mental “wear rating” of your own.


Twist Level

The number of twists in a one inch strand of carpet is its twist level. Carpet with fewer twists can unravel. Think of braided hair. The more tightly it’s braided, the less chance it will come undone. The number of twists is sometimes overlooked but is an important factor for carpet durability. Too low of twists and you may be very disappointed in an otherwise high quality carpet. On the other hand, a carpet with a high number of twists can compensate for a lower density.


Captain’s warning! Twist level is not necessarily the number of twists in a carpet. In example, if a salesman shows you a carpet with 2” strands and tells you it has 8 twists. This may sound good at first, but then you realize the twist level would be 4 (there are 4 twists per inch). The opposite is also true.


Frequently Asked Questions about Carpet Construction


What face weight should I look for in carpet?

Face weights normally range from 20-70 ounces. If you want carpet to last, buy a carpet with a face weight over 35 ounces. As discussed above, there may be a few exceptions where lower face weights are acceptable. Some of those exceptions would be if the carpet has a very high twist level, density, or will be in a room that isn’t frequently used.


What density carpet do I need?

Carpet density ranges from 1000-7000. For homes you plan on living in for a while, you’ll want a density rating 2000 or greater.


How many twists do I need in my carpet?

You’ll want to look for carpet with a twist level of 5 or more. The higher the twist level the better. Three or four twists can lead to poor performance.


*What's next? Now that you have the basics of carpet construction down, check out the most important factor in carpet durability: types of carpet. You may also be interested in carpet styles. If you have all of the basics of carpet down, you'll love our FREE carpet buying tips.