Make sure you choose the right carpet for your needs with our expert guide to the styles available
Types of carpet
Broadly speaking, there are two ways in which carpet is manufactured – woven or tufted.
With woven carpet, the front and back are woven simultaneously. It is a labour-intensive process, and slower than tufting, hence woven carpets are more expensive. They are, however, better quality with better dimensional stability.
There are two types of woven carpet: Axminster, which is patterned, and Wilton, which tend to be plain but can be made with up to five colours. Axminster, Brintons and Ulster are particularly well-known for their woven carpets.
Most carpet sold in the UK is tufted, a process whereby yarn is inserted into a ready-made backing fabric. Tufted carpets can be plain or patterned.
There are a variety of surface texture options available, which affect the feel, appearance and performance of your carpet.
• Twist piles have a coarse, rugged finish.
•Velvet piles have a smooth, luxurious appearance, like suede. On a like-for-like basis, there is no difference in performance between a twist pile and a velvet pile. The difference is purely aesthetic.
• Loop piles replicate the appearance of natural flooring such as sisal and coir. Remember that cats and anything with long claws and loop piles do not mix! They typically come in natural and neutral shades.
• Saxony has a pronounced sensuous feel with a deep pile. Very popular in bedrooms, saxonies do flatten and so are not practical in high-traffic areas.
• Patterned carpet usually has a smooth velvet surface with excellent appearance retention and is very hardwearing.
By and large, the more luxurious the surface, the greater care it will need. Shorter pile generally wears better than long but is not as luxurious. It all comes down to personal taste, future plans and room usage.
There are a wide range of fibres available – both natural and synthetic – and each fibre has its own characteristics. Fibres are often blended together to produce yarns which give the best properties for a particular use. A fibre which is weak in one area is blended with one that is strong in another thereby giving a better performance than either would on its own.
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• Wool is the classic carpet fibre. It is soft, doesn’t flatten easily, keeps its appearance well, is easy to dye and is fire-resistant.
• Nylon is very strong and also doesn’t flatten easily. It is often used in blends with wool.
• Polypropylene is stain-resistant and wears well but is flammable and flattens easily.
• Polyester wears well and is easily cleaned but does flatten.