Types of Carpet and Wall to Wall Carpeting
Carpet is warm, comfortable and easy to clean and it comes in a wide range of colours, textures and patterns. Price also varies, according to the fibre or fibres used, the method of manufacture and the general performance.
Different grades of carpet are suitable for different locations, from light-use types for bedrooms to heavy-duty varieties for stairs. Durability is a function of the density and weight of the pile, with short, dense-pile carpets being the hardest-wearing type.
Carpets generally have either a woven or a foam backing. Laying woven-backed carpet is a professional job, but laying foam-backed carpet can be done by the amateur. An alternative to orthodox carpet is supplied by carpet tiles, which can be loose-laid or stuck down.
Carpet terminology can be confusing. As well as the fibre composition, carpets can be classified according to the method of manufacture and the type of pile. However, the most important indication of quality is the type and amount of fibre used.
Types of Carpet
As well as the natural carpet fibre, wool, a number of synthetics are used to make carpets. Most modern carpets use mixtures — either of wool with an artificial fibre such as nylon, or of several synthetic materials.
Wool is expensive, but luxurious; it is often mixed with a percentage of nylon to promote durability — 80:20 wool to nylon is an all-purpose grade. Nylon is very durable and is often used in mixes. Good-quality nylon can be expensive. Acrylic is similar to wool in appearance but is more difficult to clean. Polyester is cheap and is often used to make shag-pile carpet. Viscose rayon is again cheap, but it gives a poor performance overall. Polypropylene is cheap, durable and water-repellent. It is used in mixtures.
Method of Manufacture
In woven carpets the pile and the backing are made together. Types of pile include smooth, uncut-loop, low-loop, long-loop and mixtures of cut and looped pile for sculpted effects. In tufted carpets fibres are inserted individually into a prepared backing which is then sealed withto hold the tufts in place. The pile may be cut, looped, or both. With non-woven carpets fibres can be bonded onto backing with ; needle-punched and fixed with ; or electrostatically flocked to the backing.
Axminster is a type of woven carpet, where the pile is inserted in tufts into the weave, allowing many different colours to be used. The pile is cut, but may be short and smooth, long and shaggy, stubbly or sculpted.
Berber is a term for fleeced carpets with a nubbly pile.
Body carpet is carpet produced in narrow widths less than 1.8m/6ft for use on stairs, halls, and so on.
Broadloom is carpet produced in widths over 1.8m/6ft, commonly 2.75m/ 9ft and 3.7m/12ft.
Brussels weave is a term referring to dense uncut looped pile.
Carpet tiles are squares of carpet with sealed edges, available in different sizes, colours, patterns and fibres and with different backings, including PVC, rubber and felt. Useful for areas of heavy wear, since damaged squares can be lifted easily and replaced, or tiles can be moved regularly to distribute wear evenly.
Cord is a low-loop woven carpet with a ribbed appearance. It is very durable.
Shag pile is a long-pile carpet with loops of 2.5-5cm/1-2in. It is hazardous on stairs and is prone to tangling.
Wilton is a smooth cut pile carpet. It is woven from continuous yarn, so only limited colours are possible.
Types of Underlay
Good-quality underlay is essential for all woven-backed carpets. Foam-backed carpets should be laid on felt paper so the foam does not stick to the floor. Underlay evens out the carpet’s upper surface, is a good insulator and protects the carpet from dirt, damp and excess wear.
Foam or rubber underlay is resilient but is not suitable for areas of heavy wear, such as stairs. Avoid laying it over damp floors or underfloor heating. To test good-quality foam, rub it between your fingers and thumb: if it crumbles, it is second-rate.
Felt underlay is made of jute or animal hair, or a mixture. Hair is stronger and wears better. You can also obtain rubberized felt.
Bonded underlay is made from a mixture of wool and synthetics, bonded to rubber.