Berber Carpet: Description, Pros & ConsIf I had to guess, Berber carpet would be the most recognizable carpet style among homeowners. So what is it that makes stand out from “regular” carpet? Mostly it’s loop design (more on this later). But maybe the bigger question is, does it make a difference in how it performs? That’s the purpose of this article. We’ll cover:
- what exactly is Berber carpet? (including a picture)
- why a carpet style like Berber doesn’t tell you a lot about carpet performance (and what does)
- advantages of Berber
- disadvantages of Berber
- do brand names or materials of the Berber make a difference
What is Berber carpet?This more complicated to answer than you’d think (but not too complicated, so stick with me). There are two definitions of Berber. The more literal version (more interesting version), and the version that is used in the carpet industry today (more useful for carpet shoppers). The literal and historic definition of Berber comes from the native people of North Africa. These people were called “Berbers.” Thousands of years ago, the Berber people created a unique weave when hand-creating textiles. This weave had multi-colored flecks and loops/knots of various sizes. This is the original Berber weave. The modern definition of Berber in the carpet industry includes more variations. The carpet can be any color (uniform or flecked), and the loops can be one size or varied. In summary: Berber now is used to describe any looped carpet (the other type of carpet, which is seen more commonly, is a cut pile)
Why Berber doesn’t tell you much about carpet performance (and what does)Before we dive into the pros and cons of Berber, it helps to know why Berber doesn’t tell you as much as you’d think about performance. Berber only tells you the style of the weave of the carpet. This does affect how it performs t0 some degree, but there are other more important pieces of the puzzle. In particular, the carpet material you choose, and the carpet face weight matter more than the style. That said, the weave does make a difference in some performance areas, so let’s check those out:
Pros and cons of Berber carpetThe unique tight knots of the Berber weave give Berber carpets advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of Berber carpet:
Pro: durabilityHave you ever noticed you see Berber in a lot of commercial buildings? This is because Berber carpets can be very durable. The reason is the fibers are woven into the backing, rather than having exposed ends. “Regular” cut pile carpets with exposed ends can unravel. Berber’s don’t have that issue.
Don’t get a false sense of security!There are many things that affect the durability, and carpet style (like Berber) is only a small piece of the puzzle. If you want to know more, check out my article on what makes a carpet durable.
Con: snagsThis is by far the #1 drawback of Berber. The loops can be caught, and when they are, they can tear out of the carpet backing. How are Berber’s snagged? Usually, it’s from pet claws or vacuums beater bars. If a snag happens to you, check out my article on how to repair Berber carpet. It’s a pretty good cheap and easy fix. And if you are getting a new Berber, it may help to check out my guide on the best vacuums for Berber carpet.
Pro: stain resistanceJust like durability, stain resistance is less a feature of the style and more a feature of the carpet material. However, it’s worth mentioning that Berber’s tight weave can make it a little more resistant to stains (although, there’s a catch to this. more in the cons below).
Con: cleaning takes special careRemember when I talked about one of the advantages of Berber being its tight weave that prevents stains? The drawback of that is once a stain does penetrate the Berber, it’s more difficult to remove. Sometimes it will look like you’ve cleaned the spot, and then it re-appears in the carpet (called wicking). That said, just like stain resistance is only a small advantage of Berber, this is only a small disadvantage. I don’t think it really has a huge effect on the performance of your carpet. Check out my popular page on how to clean Berber carpet for more info.
Pro: inexpensiveWith a unique weave like Berber, you might expect it to be more expensive. The good news is it’s not. Berber is right in-line with other carpet prices.
Con: May require “special” paddingSome Berber requires a fiber carpet pad. This isn’t that much more expensive than a normal pad but worth mentioning. Fiber pad is typically thinner and denser than standard rebond padding.
Pro: unique style and storyIt’s always neat to have furniture or flooring that also serves as a conversation piece. Berber isn’t uncommon, but it’s less common in homes that your standard cut pile carpets. Also, now that you know the origins of Berber, it makes for an interesting story when people comment on your carpet.
Do brand names (Mohawk, Shaw, Stainmaster, etc) make a difference?The brand names like Mohawk, Shaw, and Stainmaster are often higher-quality than average Berber carpets, but maybe not as much as you would think. At the end of the day, a Berber carpet defines the style–the looped nature of the carpet. The brand doesn’t change that. The main difference a brand can make is in the stain protection. If you are considering a brand name Berber, I’d check out my article on carpet brands.
Does the material of Berber make a difference?The material you use can make a big difference in the carpet. In fact, the material is the most important feature of carpet durability. My favorite material is nylon, and in most cases, I’d avoid olefin. No matter what type of carpet you end up buying, the material is a big decision, so it’s worth reading up on. Here is my guide to carpet fiber materials.
How much does Berber carpet cost?You won’t pay a premium for Berber, but there is a big range in price for Berber carpet. If you want a cheap Berber just to have carpet, you can get an olefin or polyester Berber for around $1 a square foot. If you want a durable, soft, thick Berber for your main living area, a soft nylon Berber might run $5 a square foot. At the end of the day, a carpet being Berber doesn’t tell you much about the price. Check out more details on the breakdown of what you should pay for carpet with my free carpet cost calculator.
Captain’s tips on what to do next:I find it interesting writing this article because many of Berber’s advantages are also related to its disadvantages. The good news is, for most people, you can choose whatever carpet style you want, and it’ll work in your home. Here’s what I recommend doing next:
- If you plan on buying Berber, I’d check out my article on best vacuums for Berber carpet to avoid snags in your Berber
- If you are undecided on Berber, check out my comparison of all carpet styles.
- If you want unbiased help from start to finish with your carpet purchase, check out my free carpet buying guide.
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11 thoughts on “Berber Carpet”
Where can we find the berber carpet shown in the image above (2nd one from left)…white with diamond pattern?
Are “face weight” and “density rating” applicable factors when picking a Berber carpet?
still relevant, but it’s best to compare berber vs berber not vs other styles
What’s the best padding under Berber?
Sometimes a thinner, denser pad such as fiber pad works best with Berber. Other times, you can use standard pad. I’d first check the warranty o make sure it doesn’t call for something specific. Check out the pad buying guide for more.
I have Berber carpet that is glued to the sub flooring. It needs to be replaced. After removal, will I need to install a covering over the old glue residue before gluing down new Berber carpet?
If it’s direct glue down carpet, you should still be able to directly glue it down without a covering. You’d be better off chipping away at extra glue residue; shouldn’t be a big problem unless they are fairly big chunks of glue.
I read that you shouldn’t use a rotary type vacuum cleaner on Berber. True? What type should be used?My sister has the upright/beater bar or rotary type and has never had an issue on her Berber carpet.
You’re right–the risk is getting a snag in the Berber. There are some vacuums where you can turn off the beater bar. This pretty much eliminates any chance of snag. If you’re interested, I have an article on the best vacuums for Berber (all of these vacuums you can turn off the bar if needed) here: https://www.carpetcaptain.com/vacuum-guide/best-vacuum-for-berber-carpet/
What about a smart strand berber?
It could make a great carpet. I think Smartstrand is a pretty good fiber, but here’s where you can find more about it: https://www.carpetcaptain.com/carpet-buying-guide/smartstrand-carpet/ . Also make sure to check out the other things that matter in carpet durability: https://www.carpetcaptain.com/carpet-buying-guide/carpet-construction/