Carpet Types: How They’re Made
Carpets don’t have to be able to fly to be magic! They work hard to filter the air in our home, to snuggle our feet, and to keep drafts at bay. Is there anything much better than dragging off your shoes and socks at the end of the day and sinking into a snug carpet?
Hand woven carpets are a luxury and can cost a lot, simply because of the time they take to weave; the rest of the world has have to rely on the synthetic fibres that were invented in the 1950s. Synthetic fibres rule, if we’re honest; no synthetic fibres and there would be far fewer carpets gracing our homes: would you believe more than 90% of carpets sold are synthetic.
Let’s get realistic here though, most of us can only afford synthetic carpets made on mass in factories. Nonetheless, our carpets share a large part of our life and our home, but how much do we really know about them? Which carpet will best fit my home? Which should you buy when it’s time to replace one that has reached the end of its service?
Many of us have at least heard of Axminster, but what makes it so luxurious? With jute wefts and the warp being of jute, cotton or a synthetic fibre, the silky surface associated with Axminster is the result of each u-shaped tuft being held in place by the weft. For the most part Axminster carpets have intricate, pattered designs, so are great for little-used areas that need some glamour.
For high-traffic areas and day-to-day use, a Berber carpet is the great choice. With thicker yarns than other level loop pile carpets, they are much sturdier. There is a great range of loops: from little and dense to broad and textured. Richer woolen Berber carpets can still be found, but most carpets made with the Berber approach use olefin, nylon-polyester or nylon. Not only are Berber carpets easy to fit, but the air pockets in the loops mean your feet feel cushioned and warm, and they insulate your room.
Often multicoloured, cut and loop pile carpets have patterned, sculptured effects created by long cuts and shorter looped fibres. Offering a medium resistance to wear, they are best placed in low-traffic areas in a prominent place – to be enjoyed; although the different levels do hide footprints and disguise high traffic areas as well as stains and muck.
If you’d prefer solid colour with a silky, snugly appearance opt for a cut pile Saxony carpet. Generally, they are made of nylon, wool or polyester and offer a touch of elegance to reception rooms. When they’re well looked after they look great, but they tend to show every footprint and hoover mark.
With a high traffic area, you should look for a frieze carpet, because the highly twisted cut pile makes it exceedingly durable. Frieze carpets may cost a little more than cut pile, but it will serve your home well.
While frieze carpets are amazingly durable, they may not suit your aesthetic sensibilities. Level-loop pile is both hardwearing and excellent at hiding heavy use because of the strength of its loops. Packed tightly, the short loops are very easy to clean; taller loops make the carpet look wooly and hand-made, while still keeping footprints to a minimum.
Multi-level loop is much like level loop, but the varying loop heights (suggested in the name!) create a random texture. Carpets that vary in pile depth offer either detailed designs, so they hide footprints and spills that are often found in busy areas and family rooms. A note of caution though, smaller looped versions tend to hold more dirt.
A particularly good ‘whole house’ carpet is the ever-popular textured cut pile Saxony carpet. With many more twists in the pile it’s easy to spot the yarn ends, giving a cosy, relaxed appearance. Like most of the hard-wearing carpet, very few marks can be seen making it the perfect addition to a busy home.
For an opulent twist on a theme, in more formal areas use the block-colour, light-twist yarns of velvet or plush carpeting. Best for areas where few people travel merely because steps and marks are easily seen!
And finally, Wilton. Home-grown traditional carpets, woven with a continuous thread; these are strong, heavy carpets which cost a pretty penny. Colours are limited simply because of the complexity of the weaving process. Wilton carpets are known for their durability and are often used in commercial areas because they can cope with high traffic.