Types of Carpet
You know types of carpets by their unique styles. It could be the loops of a Berber or the clean appearance of a plush.
But is the type of carpet just a style?
It’s not. The type of carpet impacts the durability and overall performance of your carpet. Later in this article I’ll cover how each type of carpet performs, but first let’s make sure we’re on the same page:
What exactly does “carpet style” mean? It’s the way the carpet is constructed. How it’s cut. And how it’s woven. But it has nothing to do with the material (you can read more about carpet materials here).
Captain says what?! In this article, I say “type of carpet” and “carpet style” to mean the same thing. That’s because it’s how it works in the real world. Each type of carpet (Berber, frieze, etc) has a unique look, so we also call it style. But the “style” also affects performance (read on for more).
More Than Just Style
There are many ways to cut and weave a carpet, which is why there are many carpet styles.
I’ll cover the most popular styles including Berber, frieze, plush, and shag. Each of these styles is best known by its unique appearance, so it’s not surprising that most shoppers pick their carpet style on appearance alone.
But that’s a mistake.
The way the carpet is cut and woven can also affect how well it repels stains, hold up to animals, and how long it lasts.
With that said, don’t sweat it. If you love a certain style, you can probably make it work. The style isn’t nearly as important to performance as the material. The important thing is to know the pros and cons of your style, so there aren’t any surprises.
That’s exactly what you’ll find if you read on.
Captain’s navigation tip! Here’s the best way to use this article: First read through the summaries for each carpet type. This should narrow your choices down to one or two that you like. Then you can click the links on the styles you’re interested in to go more in depth.
Berber is a popular one.
If you don’t know it by name, you have definitely seen it before. It is distinguished by varying sized loops that stand out from ordinary cut pile carpet.
Berber’s tight-looped weave gives it a couple of performance advantages: stains have a tough time penetrating, and it doesn’t show vacuum marks or footprints. The durability and unique style are why some people love Berber.
But you’ll also hear disaster stories about Berber.
Maybe you have a friend who heard great things about Berber’s durability. They go to the store to check it out, and like how it looks. Five years down the road the Berber looks terrible. Your friend is upset and wonders, “What happened? I thought this carpet was supposed to be durable?”
They tell you this story, and tell you that Berber is a horrible carpet.
So who is right?
Both are depending how you look at it. Berber can be a good carpet. But this doesn’t mean you can overlook the carpet material and other important aspects of carpet performance. Berber also doesn’t always mix well with kids and pets. But more on that in the Berber page.
There’s no question Berber can be a high performing carpet for certain homes, you just need to remember that the style of the carpet is only a small piece in the durability “puzzle.”
People are always looking for the new thing, and frieze is the rising star of the carpet world.
Like Berber, frieze’s look distinguishes it from other carpets. It has a “knobby” and twisted appearance. It’s almost like a shorter, neater shag. Click on the frieze link to check out pictures.
Some of frieze’s new popularity is due to its style, but it is also a high-performing type of carpet. It’s made with a tight twist construction that improves durability. Unless you don’t care for the look of frieze, it should be one of your top choices.
Is there a difference in plush, Saxony, and velvet?
For real world purposes, there isn’t a difference. Technically there is, but each has the same performance characteristics, look very similar, and sometimes retailers even mix up the names. If you’re interested in specifics of Saxony vs plush, check out that page for more details.
These carpets are ideal for formal rooms. They have a dense and elegant appearance. They are considered higher-end carpets and are usually constructed well (this doesn’t mean you can ignore the other carpet specifications). The downside of this design is that it shows imperfections easily. Stains stand out, as do vacuum streaks and footprints.
Have a formal room or dining room where you don’t expect spills? Plush might be your perfect carpet.
Everyone loves a throw-back shag, even if you don’t think it would fit in with your home.
Shag has long fibers that give it an informal and playful bend to the carpet. It’s the opposite of the well-groomed, upright appearance of plush carpet. If you grew up in the 70s, you knew at least one home that sported shag.
As far as performance goes, shag is middle of the road. Some people feel it can have a worn out appearance prematurely, but generally the carpet’s durability depends on how well it is made and not the shag style.
Shag may be difficult to find since its popularity has declined. But if you’re in love with the style, it’s worth looking for.
Shopping for carpet you’ll find many carpets that don’t have one of the fancy names above. Some will just say things like “level loop”, “textured pile,” etc. There’s nothing special about these carpets—bad or good.
There are a couple of facts worth knowing about loops and cut piles. One is that just like Berber, loops don’t mix well with animals that have claws. Another is if you want to hide footprints and imperfections, a textured carpet will be better than an even “plush” style.
Captain’s parting words
The type of carpet or style is one of the fun parts of carpet shopping, so don’t stress out over it. Yes, the style will have a say in carpet performance, but by being aware of how your desired style behaves, you can make most work in any home. Here’s how I would approach shopping for carpet styles: Go into a store and take a look at many different styles. Choose a few that stand out to you on how they look. Then come back to this page. Look at the type of carpets pros and cons. Now, you can make a confident decision.