Carpet is likely the most ancestral of all known floor types, woven floor coverings dating back to the Neolithic Age. Mankind’s shabby recordkeeping before 7000 BC would render any challenge to the honor moot. In the 1940’s, a carpet over 2000 years old was found in a tomb in Serbia. Called the Pazyryk carpet, it is the oldest surviving carpet of which we are aware.
Basically, carpet is a thick, heavy, fabric, usually made of woven wool or synthetic fibers, sewn together into one large piece and nailed to a floor for its covering. Colloquially, the words carpet and rug are often used interchangeably, but in flooring circles we see them as very distinct from each other. According to The American Floor Covering Industry the difference is solely based on size, with any carpet under 40 square feet being designated a “rug”. We prefer more intuitive distinctions. A carpet covers the entire floor. It is flush with the walls of a room. A rug does not cover the entire floor. For clarity’s sake, we shall henceforth refer to those as “area rugs”, and will give them their own section.
“Plush” or “looped”. The surface of the carpet, the “Pile”, can be either of these. If the material at the top is cut, then in running your hands across it, you would feel the cut ends of each piece of yarn pass under your palms. This style is called “plush”. If the top strands have looped rather than cut ends, you would have each piece of yarn come up from the bottom and go right back down to it, leaving a loop on top. “Looped”. One popular type of carpet called “Berber” is always looped, though it also has other qualities, so the terms are not interchangeable.
“Colorfast” describes a material whose colors retain their original hues, not fading or running off, with washing or regular wear.
Carpeting is made in a variety of ways based on the needs of the material being handled, or the desired qualities of the finished carpet. The main methods are Tufted, woven, needlefelt, knotted and hooked.
Material of which carpet is made
As you must imagine in this great age of science and wonder, carpets can be made out of a very wide variety of materials. Gone are the days when the only plush flooring available made the living room look like a crime scene involving a fallen bear. Now, it is the kind of material used that will really determine how your carpet looks and feels, and how durable it will be. It will also affect the manufacturing methods used, which will impact the cost of your carpet. Two main categories of carpet fibers exist, natural and synthetic, and a finished carpet can be one, the other, or a blend of both.
Among the natural fibers, cotton is known to provide soft carpets with good longevity in a wide variety of colors. The traditional natural fiber, and one of the oldest textile materials ever used, is wool. The way wool absorbs dyes makes it more authentic looking than dyed synthetic materials. Wool can be used for both handmade and machine made carpeting. Other natural carpeting materials include Silk, Coir, Sisal, Seagrass, and Mountain Grass.
Synthetic materials may only be used in mechanical manufacturing processes, but most synthetic fiber carpets are less expensive than those made of wool. Since the synthetic fibers are non-porous, synthetic carpets can be fully stain proof, and very easy to maintain. You can also get more brilliance in the coloring of synthetic material than you can with wool or cotton, all of which may be why nylon and polypropylene make up about 90% of the total commercial carpeting market. Synthetic carpets can also be made of Polyester and acrylic.
In addition to making your room look cleaner, very good attention to proper maintenance of your carpet will extend its life, preserve the value and the longevity of its appearance, and can even freshen the air and help those with breathing issues. It saves you the cost of future carpet replacement, because those little bits of dirt that dig down into your carpet not only look bad, but they also tear at both the fibers and the backing as you walk on them. It is also an environmentally responsible thing to do.
You can protect your carpet by laying mats in doorways and under desks, and by occasionally rearranging furniture in a room, changing the traffic paths. You should vacuum regularly, probably once a week, or whatever the manufacturer recommends. Spills and stains should be taken care of as soon as they happen. There are a number of methods to deal with each type of stain. The most important step to take will be to use Hot Water Extraction (sometimes referred to as Steam Cleaning) no less than once every year or two.
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David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+