Face Weight and Other Critical Specifications for Carpet Durability

What could be more exciting than learning about carpet specifications?

About everything?…

Okay, fair enough. But stick with me. If you plan on buying carpet, this is important.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into detail on how carpets are made.

I’ll cover the exact face weight, density, twist level  and durability rating you need for your home. We’ll also discuss which specifications are most important when buying carpet, and the specifications that can mislead you into a bad purchase.

Solving the durability puzzle

carpet durability puzzle

Let’s start by making an important clarification…

This article is about the specifications that impact your carpet durability. There are important parts of the durability puzzle that are not specifications. Those can be found on other Carpet Captain pages like this one comparing carpet fiber types and this one on padding.

Captain navigation warning! If you’re buying carpet and want to know everything that will determine how long it lasts, you need to start with the Captain’s Carpet Buying Guide. It’s a complete resource on buying carpet from planning to installation day.

So the next question is… What specifications are important to carpet durability? Here’s a list…

  • Face weight
  • Total weight
  • Density rating
  • Wear rating
  • PAR rating
  • Twist level

By the way, if you want help making these decisions, a good installer will often help you pick your carpet based on their experience. Finding a great installer can be a lot of work, but HomeAdvisor is a company that will do the work for you. Click here to enter a form with your zip code to get free quotes from pre-qualified installers in your area.

I’ll cover the pros and cons of each specification. You’ll learn how certain specs can be used against you. And I’ll give you ranges that indicate poor, acceptable, and best durability.

Let’s start with the most common carpet specification.

Face weight

Face weight is the most common specification you’ll find to determine a carpet’s durability. Face weight is the weight (in ounces) per square yard of carpet. This is a good but not perfect measure of “how much” carpet you have.

What do I mean by “how much” carpet you have? Face weight measures how much the fiber/yarn of the carpet weighs. Think of it like weighing t-shirts that are all the same size. The more they weight, the thicker and more durable the t-shirt is going to be. The only difference being durability matters much more in carpet. People aren’t walking on your t-shirts all day.

Earlier I said face weight is a good but not perfect measurement. That’s because it can be misleading.

How so?

It doesn’t take into account how “tall” the carpet is. The height of the carpet fibers will increase the face weight, but it doesn’t improve the durability (if anything, it leads to carpet breaking down sooner).

Here’s an example…
Let’s say you’re looking at two carpets. One is named ‘The Durable Carpet’ and one is called ‘The Misleading Carpet.’ You look at the face weight of each. ‘The Misleading Carpet’ has a 40 oz face weight, and ‘The Durable Carpet’ has a 35oz face weight. ‘The Misleading Carpet’ is the more durable carpet right?

Wrong.

And I think you can see where I’m going with this. You look into it more and ‘The Misleading Carpet’ fibers are twice as tall as ‘The Durable Carpet.’ That artificially inflated the face weight of ‘The Misleading Carpet.’ It turns out, ‘The Durable Carpet’ is the denser, more durable carpet. It just had a lower face weight because its strands are shorter.

So let’s get to the ultimate question…

What face weight carpet should I buy?

You want at least a 35 ounce face weight carpet for maximum durability. Depending on other features of your carpet, a lower or higher face weight may be required. Factors that may affect the minimum face weight needed are how often the room is used, the carpet’s twist level, and the carpet’s density.

Guidelines for face weight:

Durability Carpet Years Face Weight
Poor Less than 7 Less than 30 oz
Acceptable 7 to 12 30 to 40 oz
Best 12+ Over 40 oz

Total weight

A carpet’s total weight is the face weight + weight of the backing. Backing is heavy compared to the carpet fiber, so total weights are much higher than face weights. The weight of the back also doesn’t mean much as far as durability. Yes, a heavier backing may be better made, but it’s not accurate enough to judge a carpet.

What total weight carpet should I buy?

Trick question. Total weight is too misleading to give you recommended values.

Captain’s warning! Don’t get scammed by a money-hungry salesman. A salesman may tell you the “weight” of the carpet but use the total weight instead of face weight. Why? Because it can make a poorly made carpet sound good. Watch out for a pitch like this: “This is a great 80 oz carpet.” Anytime the salesman doesn’t specifically say “face weight,” ask him to clarify.

Density rating

Captain’s math lesson:

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

Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz. The equation isn’t important, but breaking it down reveals a couple important takeaways about density rating. The most important takeaway is density rating eliminates the flaw of face weight: the longer/higher pile the carpet, the lower the density rating.

The second takeaway is density rating is a much higher number than face weight, so face weight and density rating can’t be compared directly. If you want to go through the work, you can convert face weight to density by multiplying the face weight by 36 and then dividing by the pile height. You should be able to find the pile height in the carpet information. If you can’t find it, you can measure it yourself (base of the carpet to the top of the carpet fiber).

What density carpet do I need?

You want a carpet density with a density of 2,900+ for good durability, and I’d be cautious with anything less than 2,500 in moderate traffic rooms. Density is the best specification to determine durability. But remember that there are other factors that impact durability. Depending on these other factors and how much traffic your carpet will get, the density rating you need can vary.

Here are ranges for carpet density:

Durability Carpet Years Density Rating
Poor Less than 7 Less than 2,100
Acceptable 7 to 12 2,100 to 3,100
Best 12+ Greater than 3,100
Commercial Good quality 5,000+

Wear rating/Durability rating

Wear rating is a subjective measure of how long the carpet will last. It’s determined by the carpet manufacturer, and it’s usually a 1-5 rating system. 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 it.

The problem with the rating is the manufacturer can give a bias toward anything they want to sell. If they have a “new and improved” stain protection that gives them added profits, they’ll likely give carpets with the new stain protection the best grade whether it works well or not.

The most important reason to throw this rating out the window is you can make a better “wear rating” of your own. Your knowledge from this page and our carpet buying guide gives you the best picture of how well a carpet will hold up.

PAR Rating

PAR rating is somewhat of a mystery, but I included here because I get questions on it. Most internet sources say it is a rating created by the carpet manufacturer Shaw. I reached out to Shaw, and they stated PAR is not a rating they use. I contacted Mohawk (the only carpets I have seen use a PAR rating), and they were able to give me an explanation. They didn’t go into specifics but said it based on an industry standard test using a mechanical drum (basically beating the carpet with a machine to see how much it wears). I put this is the same category as “density rating” (see above). It gives you some useful information, but there are better ways to determine how durable your carpet is.

Twist Level

Twist level is the number of twists in one-inch strand of carpet. Higher twists result in a more durable carpet. Lower twists can lead to the carpet unraveling. This can make a carpet look old fast.

As an analogy, think of braided hair. Twist the braid once or twice, and it’s going to be loose and fall apart. If it’s tightly twisted, it will hold together throughout the day (I have a feeling I somehow blew my cover that I don’t know much about braiding hair in this last paragraph, but hopefully the analogy still made sense).

Many shoppers overlook twist level. It may not be as important as the density rating, but it still can have a major impact on how long your carpet lasts. No matter how high a carpet’s face weight, it will look terrible in a few years if it has a poor twist level.

You should find the twist level listed in the carpet information. If it isn’t listed, you can calculate it. Here’s how:

Twist level = [# of twists] / [inches of carpet]

Here’s how to use this equation… Start by counting the number of twists in a strand of the carpet. Let’s say you count 3 twists. Next, measure the height of the strand of carpet. Let’s say it measures to be half an inch. Your equation is 3 divided by 0.5, which equals a twist level of 6.

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 excellent at first, but then you realize the twist level would be 4 (there are 4 twists per inch).

How many twists do I need in my carpet?

Look for carpet with a twist level of 5 or more. The higher the twist level, the better. Four or fewer twists can lead to poor performance. Sometimes the twist level won’t be listed. If it’s a frieze carpet, you can assume it has a high twist level. If it’s not frieze, you can try to calculate the twist level (see the equation above).

Captain’s steps you should do next:

I’d put this in my top 3 articles for carpet shoppers to read (more on the other two below):

If I could only pick two specifications from this article to buy my carpet with, I’d go with density and twist level. If you don’t have density, face weight is a good substitute.

Now that you know the face weight you need (or density), twist level, and to avoid misleading numbers like face weight, you can move to the next steps:

  1. Your carpet material will have the biggest impact on your carpet durability. Click that link to see a breakdown of the different materials and their pros and cons.
  2. Also, even a great carpet can be ruined by a poor quality padding. This guide will cover everything you need to know about carpet padding.
  3. If you want help finding a pre-qualified installer (installers can also make or break a carpet purchase) get a free quote from 3 installers in your area by clicking here (note: I get a small commision that helps support the site).

Any questions on face weight or the other carpet specifications? Let me know in the comments below.

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John B
10 days ago

I would value your opinion on the specifications in the attached image for Mohawk’s crowd pleaser. There are only 2 adults who live in the house and work outside the home full time. They do have a 60 lb housebroken dog that is inside the house the majority of the day. After reading your article, the density seems low (as is the price at just over $9/yd2).

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John B
4 days ago
Reply to  Carpet Captain

Thank you for your quick reply

Viki
20 days ago

I’m torn between Dixie Home Conqueror Envision Nylon And Shaw linenweave anso nylon. They only list a density (no face weight) 3074 and a PET rating of 5. The Shaw has a face weight of 39 and no density listed. It has a PET rating of 3.5. Moderate traffic pattern and stairs involved. No pets, no kids. I like the look of the Shaw better, and the Dixie is more expensive. I’ve heard good things about Dixie Home so I’m willing to pay more if it’s worth it. Also, the carpeting store we are using is recommending a 6 lb… Read more »

Viki
20 days ago
Reply to  Viki

I should add: Dixie Home: twist 4.5. Shaw does not list theirs but I found 3.19 on another site.

Viki
19 days ago
Reply to  Viki

Should I start over? This is hard.

Viki
18 days ago
Reply to  Carpet Captain

Thank you!

Viki
18 days ago
Reply to  Viki

I was unclear, sorry about that. I’m relieved that I’m on the right track, I didn’t expect this to be stressful!
Shaw Linenweave : 39 face weight twist 3.19 I think I figured out the density after reading your advice, which is 4141
Dixie Home Conqueror: density 3074, twist 4.5 and that’s all I can find.

Barb J Young
22 days ago

Hello, I was wondering your opinion on the durability of a Nylon Stainmaster carpet with a density of 2880, pile height of 5/16, Faceweight of 52 oz, and twist of 5.5. Thank you for your time and hope you are staying safe!
Barb

James
26 days ago

Hello, what is your opinion on BCF PET Polyester carpet with a face weight of 43.9, twist level of 5.68, and density of 2395? Thank you! Your site is great!

James
21 days ago
Reply to  Carpet Captain

Thanks for the info. One more quick question for you: Is a nylon carpet with 1785 density and 4.7 twist level better than the BCF PET Polyester carpet with 2395 density and 5.68 twist level. I realize the polyester has better “numbers” but according to your website nylon beats polyester. So which carpet would you prefer and would last longer? Thank you!

Travis
1 month ago

Hello,
I’m looking at Dream Weaver SP660.
Face Weight = 60
Thickness = .562
Density = 3843
Twist = 4.25
 
I’m the only one in the house. No Pets. Carpet is for upstairs hall and bedrooms and stairs. Should I be extremely worried about the low twist number?
Thanks!
 

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