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Understanding carpet care is essential if you want your carpets to stay looking as good as new for as long as possible. Best practice carpet care includes:
- Regular vacuuming with the best vacuum for your carpet type (daily for high traffic areas, weekly for other areas);
- Clean up spills immediately to prevent staining using products that will not cause damage;
- Deep cleaning carpets every 12-18 months using a good quality carpet cleaner or by hiring a professional;
- Reduce the spread of dirt into your carpets by having floor mats outside and leaving your shoes at the door.
Understanding the Different Carpet Types
There are many different types of carpet for homes and you need to know what you are dealing with to ensure proper carpet care. Without adequate knowledge you could actually do more harm than good.
In addition to carpet care, the type of carpet and its material also affects its durability and overall performance.
The first step in is to know exactly what type of carpet you have in your home. Although this sounds simple, it can be easier said than done if you don't have an understanding of the different types of carpet.
Carpet types can be divided into:
- cut pile;
- loop pile; or
- a combination of both to create a cut and loop construction.
These general carpet types come in a range of styles and heights.
In addiition, each of these types can be made from different fiber materials such as nylon, wool, polyester or acrylic. The type of carpet material has a real impact on how well it performs. It also makes a difference to how you should care for the carpet, particularly when it comes to stains.
Cut pile carpets are made by cutting the yarn loops to produce an upright pile. This provides a more formal, luxurious looking finish than a loop pile carpet type.
Loop pile carpet uses the full loop of yarn to create a range of finish styles and patterns with varying loop heights.
A Cut and Loop type of carpet is basically a cut pile style with areas of loop pile built into it.
Within these different types of carpet construction there are lots of different styles. The differences between these styles mainly relates to the twist level of the pile yarn and/ or the pile length.
Cut Pile Styles
Low to Medium
Medium to Long
Loop Pile Styles
Berber/ Heather/ Tweed
Low to Medium
Multi Level Loop
Low to Medium
Cut and Loop Pile
Level Cut and Loop
Low to Medium
Textured Cut and Loop
Low to Medium
Cut Pile Carpet Styles
This carpet type has a very high carpet twist level, which causes the carpet tuft to kink or turn back upon itself giving it a curled appearance.
Frieze carpets have been one of the most popular carpet styles for over 20 years. Their popuarity is largely due to their ability to hide footprints and vacuum cleaner track marks better than other styles - they are known as a “trackless” carpet style.
A true frieze carpet is quite rare due to the extremely high twist and is often confused with a textured carpet style, which has a similar appearance and “trackless” performance but is manufactured in a different way. True frieze carpets are expensive but are hard wearing and good for high traffic areas.
Because of the high twist in a frieze, this type of carpet can hide dirt and stains and appear cleaner than they actually are. Selecting the best vacuum cleaner for carpet will assist with cleaning deep into the fibers. However, proper carpet care for a frieze will require use of a good carpet cleaner every 12-18 months depending on foot traffic and whether you have pets.
If you have a nylon frieze carpet you may have been told that it is stain-resistant. They are often marketed as stain-resistant due to the dense packing of the nylon fibers. However, even with this type of carpet it’s important for stains to be immediately cleaned as if allowed to settle they will still be stained.
Plush/ Saxony/ Velour/ Velvet Carpet
Although these types of carpet are technically different they have a similar appearance and performance. They vary from short to medium pile carpets that are precision cut to provide a luxury style.
The Saxony is a different type of carpet to plush or velvet carpet due to the increased pile height as well as the flared tufts, which means that the tufts are not as tight together at the ends.
The drawback with this type of carpet style is that they are susceptible to vacuum marks and footprints. Saxony performs slightly better in this regard but often the styles are mixed up and it can be hard to differentiate between them.
Good carpet care for this style requires a vacuum specifically designed for plush carpets.
This style of carpet is easily identified by the very long pile tufts, which are loosely packed creating a more open construction than different types of carpet. This is your classic soft style carpet.
Many vacuums that work perfectly well on low and medium pile carpets stick to shag carpets like a big suction cup. That’s because the shag carpet is too dense for the air to circulate back into the vacuum’s intake, which can make it almost impossible to move. Check out our article on how to vacuum a shag rug to see how best to tackle this style of carpet.
Because of the increasing popularity of shag and ultra soft style carpets in recent years, carpet makers have begun testing and recommending vacuums for them. The Carpet Research Institute (CRI) is one of our trusted sources to find the best vacuums for shag carpets.
Loop Pile Carpet Styles
When vacuuming loop pile carpets you need to be careful to avoid creating excessive fuzz. This can generally be achieved by either turning off the brush roll/ beater bar operation or changing the vacuum head to one without a brush roll. These are the commonly found loop pile carpet styles:
This popular type of carpet can either be constructed in a cut pile or loop pile style. They usually comprise of tightly woven loops and come with a mottled or flecked appearance. Heather and Tweed carpets also have a similar look and texture to Berber.
Berber carpets are one of the easier styles to clean and maintain due to the large loops because the dirt generally does not penetrate too deep below the surface. The tight weave also helps with this style in terms of stain resistance. However its important to immediately clean stains as the tight weave can also trap any spilled liquid!
Berber carpets also hide footprints and vacuum cleaner marks well. If the carpet is cleaned regularly and generally taken care of these carpets are easy to keep looking good.
Pet Owners Beware!
The drawback with Berber carpets is that they can wear out more quickly than other styles, particularly if you have pets that may pick at the loops! Snags from pets or even kids can lead to the carpet unravelling and needing to be repaired. The size of the loop and also material of fiber matters when it comes to berber carpet performance and durability. Choose nylon over olefin fiber for much better durability and a lower loop height for higher traffic areas.
Level Loop/ Multi-Level Loop Carpet
As the name suggests, level loop carpets consist of tightly looped tufts of equal height to provide a uniform finish.
- Variations on this are multi-level loop, high-low loop and sculptured loop.
- The height of the yarn loops in these other styles varies to create a pattern, commonly using two or three different heights.
Sissal/ Cord Carpet
These types of carpet are usually a heavily textured loop pile carpet. The appearance is like a traditional plant fibre mat but more comfortable. Carpet care will be the same as for the other loop pile styles while paying attention to the type of fibres the carpet has.
Cut and Loop Pile Styles
Cut and Loop carpet styles have come back into fashion in recent years. Due to their construction using both cut pile and loop pile these carpets can be designed to create abstract patterns and effects.
The disadvantage of cut and loop carpet is that it can look worn out more quickly than the other styles. This is because the longer cut fibers bend over the shorter looped fibers.
They should therefore be avoided for high traffic areas.
Type of FibeR Material Impacts on Carpet Care
Once you understand the key facts about caring for the different types of carpet you also need to know what fiber material the carpet is made of to ensure proper carpet care. If you are unsure, there is a simple way to identify the fibers by their appearance and odor as outlined in this article.
The type of carpet fiber that you have has the biggest impact on how it performs. For instance, the type fibers impact on a carpet's ability to come clean, resist stains and overall durability. We recommend reading the Carpet Captain's Carpet Fibers article for further information on the pros and cons of the most common materials.
You should certainly understand the type of carpet fiber you have before going about stain removal or carpet cleaning. For stain removal you should follow your carpet manufacturers carpet care instructions for the specific type of stain encountered.
Vacuuming Tips for different types of Carpet
There's a few simple tips that you can follow to help with carpet care when vacuuming:
- For low pile carpets use a quality upright or canister vacuum with either a power driven rotating brush or a combination beater/brush bar.
- For thicker/ higher pile carpets for a vacuum cleaner with an adjustable height brush roll/ beater bar makes vacuuming easier. Some vacuums have manually adjustable heights and others can do this automatically. The manually adjustable heights work better for high pile carpets. However not all vacuums have adjustable heights so you need to check.
- Turn the power brush roll/ beater bar off when vacuuming loop pile carpet styles to prevent excessive fuzzing. Again not all vacuum cleaners allow you to do this so you need to check the specifications.
- For super thick and luxurious soft style carpets you really need a specialist vacuum cleaner. We carefully selected 5 of the best vacuums for high pile carpets in this article. Some of the key attributes you should look for in a suitable vacuum for this type of carpet are:
- Controllable suction power level
- Different brush roll/ beater bar height settings
- Large wheels - this makes a huge difference to how easy the vacuum is to move around.
The type of carpet you have in your home is important to understand if you are to provide good carpet care. By knowing your carpet style and the material it is made of you can identify the best way of keeping it looking as good as new. Some carpet types are more durable than others and some require greater care and attention. If you follow the tips in this article and use good quality cleaning products then this will help you get the longest life possible from your carpets.