Carpet terminology used by carpet manufacturers, flooring distributors, carpet dealers, wall to wall carpet installers, floor covering inspectors, carpet and rug cleaners and others.
Carpet Terminology from A – Z
Abrasion Marks: Marks left on the pile of a carpet by abrasion.
Abrasive Wear: Commonly defined as the loss of face fiber through foot traffic. While wear is a frequent complaint, synthetic fibers are highly resistant to abrasion and most carpet will ugly out before it will wear out. (See ugly out)
Atmospheric soil/dirt: – As it relates to carpet, this is the dust, smoke, cooking vapors and other airborne contaminants that settle on the floor.
Axminster: Axminster Ax”min*ster, n., or Axminster carpet Axminster carpet .
(a) [More fully chenille Axminster.] A variety of Turkey carpet, woven by machine or, when more than 27 inches wide, on a hand loom, and consisting of strips of worsted chenille so colored as to produce a pattern on a stout jute backing. It has a fine soft pile. So called from Axminster, England, where it was formerly (1755 — 1835) made.
(b) A similar but cheaper machine-made carpet, resembling moquette in construction and appearance, but finer and of better material.
Backing, Changes: A manufacturer may select to change the style of backing used on their product. A change of backing is not considered a defect as long as it is the same style of backing and of equal or better quality.
Bleeding – A change or transfer of color that occurs when the carpet dyes are exposed to water. Bleeding of carpet dye is not normal and can be caused by either manufacturing or non-manufacturing conditions.
Bow – An arc like distortion of a carpet pattern. This is a manufacturing condition that occurs when the speed of the tenter is running too fast, resulting in the carpet dragging on the inside rollers while the carpet is drying.
Buckling (Puckering) (Ripples)(Wrinkles) – Referred to by many names it is the ridge like areas that develop when a carpet loosens up. After a period of use a carpet may develop ridges and the condition will be due to one or more problems as follows. (1) The carpet was installed during cold weather and not properly conditioned prior to installation. (2) High humidity resulting in dampness between the carpet and floor. (3) Improperly specified cushion that is too thick or too soft. (4) Carpet installed over existing carpet. (5) Improper stretching of the carpet at the time of the originally installation. (6) Dimensional stability problem due to a latex condition, backing material condition, too soft or too stiff of a back or other that prevents the carpet from holding a stretch. Problems 1 through 5 can be corrected with a correctly performed power stretching and taking care of the additional underlying problem. Problem 6 may require replacement if it will not hold a restretching.
Burns – Most carpet will burn, melt or singe. Small burns such as those from a cigarette can often be improved by trimming the charred area with scissors. If the burned area is deep the trimming may be quite visible in which case it would be best to correct by reburling or an insertion of a small section of carpet.
Color Breakdown – Incorrect dyeing methods or defective dyes that result in a color change over a period of time. Not all manufacturers recognize color breakdown in the same way. Some do not consider it a defect when over a period of time. A sample of the subject carpet needs to be furnished to the manufacturer.
Color Change: It is normal for carpet to change color with use. Color retention is affected by the presence of sunlight, humidity, heat, oxides and other gasses in the environment. Color appearance changes in traffic areas from normal use and also as a result of improper maintenance.
Corn Rowing: Rows sometimes appear in certain styles of carpet and especially in high traffic areas. This condition can be caused by poor maintenance; pile crushing in traffic patterns or by repeated vacuuming in the same direction. Thorough deep vacuuming with a unit that has a beater bar, brushing cut bile carpet with a grooming tool, and routinely changing the direction the carpet is being vacuumed in will help to reduce corn rowing.
Cotton Count: This yarn numbering system is based on length and weight. The system was originally used for cotton yarn and later employed for most staple yarns. It is based on a unit length of 840 yards, and the count of the yarn is equal to the number of 840-yard skeins required to weigh one pound. Under the cotton count system, the higher the number, the finer the yarn. A typical yarn might be a three cotton count two plied, written as 3.0/2
Crocking: Dye rubs off of the carpet due to inadequate steaming during setting of the dye or not enough working time in the wash to remove all set dyes and chemicals.
Crushing: This is the compression or collapsing of pile yarns, under repeated foot traffic, so that the carpet mats down and loses all resilience. This form of carpet failure usually occurs in the areas of heaviest traffic.
Crushing, Furniture Indentation: These indentations develop under the weight of furniture legs. The dents can often be lifted with the edge of a coin. Stubborn indentations can be removed by steaming with a steam iron or travel steamer. When a back is very stiff or very soft, or the cushion under a carpet collapses you may not be able to remove the total indentation. Indentations are normally considered a characteristic and not a defect.
Delamination: Is the separation of the primary and secondary backing and is due to a manufacturing, specification, installation or site-related cause. No claim for delamination at seams will be honored where lamination tests on the overall carpet meet accepted industry standards. No claims will be honored where improper padding has been utilized.
Dirty Back: Occurs when unwrapped carpet comes in contact with dirt or grime. This would not mean the carpet was defective.
Discolored or Stained Nap: This can happen when a wet carpet is put into dirty floats and wet yarn absorbs dirt of rust.
Dye Bands: Dye bands generally run lengthwise and can be cause by stops during continuous dyeing or by and uneven application of dye either too heavy or too light during continuous dyeing. (Also see rope marks.)
Dye Spots: These are randomly located spots that are caused by a heavier than normal concentration of dye of the same color or a different color.
Dye Streaks: Dye streaks generally run lengthwise and can be caused by uneven dye application, something rubbing on the carpet or from a crease that develops during the dyeing process. Clogged nozzle on dye equipment and not giving enough dispersion.
Fading: Science has yet to develop a color that will not fade with time. All carpets will slowly lose some color due to natural and artificial forces in the environment. This can be delayed by (1) Frequently removing dirt by vacuuming. (2) Regularly changing air filters in heating and air conditioning systems. (3) Keeping humidity and temperature from getting too high. (4) Reducing sunlight exposure with window coverings or sunlight filter materials.
Filtration Soiling – Where air is forced through the carpet, under doors, along steps by air movement, soil will be deposited in streaks or spots. Professional cleaning may temporarily correct this, but the condition will reoccur until the airflow is corrected.
Footprints: Most deep cut pile carpet will show shoe or foot impressions. For those that find this objectionable, a carpet of lower pile and denser construction can help minimize this condition. Textured saxonies and frieze constructions are ideal for minimizing the appearance of footprints.
Fused Nap – Melted tips of tufts on nap that can be caused by excessive dryer heat.
Fuzzed fibers can be carefully clipped with scissors or sheared by a company providing correction services.
Fuzzing (Bearding): A hairy or beard like appearance on the carpet surface that develops when fibers work loose from the yarn bundle under foot traffic. It is frequently an indication of the need for increased vacuuming thoroughness or frequency. Fuzzing may be attributed to one or more of the following: (1) Embedded dirt and grit cutting the fibers but leaving them still bound at one end. (2) Poor latex penetration of the yarn bundle. (3) Poor spinning of the yarn. Poor twisting and heatsetting. (Also see shedding)
Grease on Nap: When this occurs during manufacturing it happens when the carpet comes in contact with bearings on equipment. Can be corrected by cleaning.
Highlighting and Shading: Highlighting and shading are differences in light reflection between surface areas and are not defects.
Holes in Carpet: A carpet can burst in the dryer when it is stretched to tight or may be caused by forklift damage.
Hybrid Carpet: This is a carpet that is manufactured from more than one brand of fiber.
Indentations: These are marks left by furniture or other object. Shift location of furniture from time to time. Spray a small amount of water on the indented area and to lift, brush with a grooming tool available through carpet dealers or janitorial supply houses. For stubborn indentations hold a small travel steamer, holding it directly on the area or a steam iron several inches above the carpet surface, steam the dented area lightly and brush the tufts upward with your fingertips. Do not let the iron touch the carpet.
Insert: (Inset or cut and plug):
Installation Related Problems: installation related problems such as delamination at the seams, kicker damage, color change due to improper heating during seaming, tufts coming up, improper stretching or failure to use power stretcher, etc., are the responsibility of the installer or retailer/contractor.
Latex Lumps on Primary Backing: Small deposits of excessive latex forming lumps on the primary backing and hidden by the nap.
Latex on Nap: This is the result of the selvedge edge folding over onto the carpet face or a hole in the carpet that allows the latex to touch a face roller on the coater.
Light and Dark Edges: This is not repairable and occurs when the carpet shifts out from under the dye application causing the edge of the carpet not to be dyed or the selvedge can fold over during steaming which will cause dark edges.
Lint in Nap: Generally occurs during shearing when darker color ling falls on light color carpet or when lighter color lint falls of darker carpet.
Loose Secondary Back (Poor Lamination): Poor lamination of the secondary backing. Result of the carpet and/or the secondary backing failing to be hooked on the pins or the tenter chain of the Coater. This creates small areas of loose secondary backing which many times can be repaired.
Mating: This is the entanglement of fibers on the surface of a carpet pile. When the pile becomes compacted an actual loss of pile height may be caused. Common causes of matting are tip bloom, fiber slippage, sticky residues on the pile and soil.
Narrow Selvedge: The carpet was not hooked properly on the tenter pins of the dryer, which caused the unpinned selvedge to be narrower.
Odors: May be the result of bacterial growth or spills.
Off Shade: A carpet is off shade when the standard and the carpet do not match. This can happen through human error in color adjustment; or when carpet is stopped during the steaming process.
Pattern Match: Perfect pattern matches along seams may not be possible due to technological limitations in carpet finishing. Reasonable pattern match can be obtained when installed by a professional carpet layer, but is not guaranteed by the manufacturer and should not be guaranteed by the dealer or installer.
Picked Nap: This can happen when the carpet nap drags across a rough surface during drying.
Pile: The finished surface of the carpet composed of the yarn.
Pile Crushing: This is the compression or collapsing of pile yarns under repeated foot traffic, causing the carpet to mat down and lose all resilience. This form of carpet failure usually occurs in high traffic areas. Vacuum against the lay of the tufts with a beater bar style vacuum or brush with a pile groomer to lift and restore the crushed pile. (While a beater bar is advised for most carpets it can fuzz some Berbers and is not advised for carpets that are glued to the floor without a cushion.
Pilling: A condition where carpet face fibers from different tufts entangle with one another forming hard masses called “Pills”. This can occur in heavy traffic pivot areas, also with poor latex penetration. Pills can be safely clipped off with scissors.
Primary Backing: Primary backing materials are manufactured as both woven and non-woven fabrics in which the pile yarn is inserted by the tufting, needle punching, stitching, embedding or bonding. Primary back is the carrier fabric for the pile yarn and should not be confused with secondary backing which is a reinforcing fabric laminated to the back of tufted carpet subsequent to the tufting process. Some synthetic primary backings have nylon fiber attached to their upper surfaces to make them union dyeable with nylon pile yarns.
Pulled Mends: This can occur when drying level loop carpet and the rollers the carpet is running across pull the yarn.
Reburling: The replacement of damaged tufts by the insertion of new tufts.
Reverse Pile within the Roll: This can occur during the finishing process and is often correctable by steaming and reorientation of the pile.
Rippling – Ripples or wrinkles develop in a carpet due to a variety of reasons. Common reasons include 1) Cushion that is too thick or too soft. 2) Expansion and contraction of the carpets back due to changes in heat and humidity. 3) Carpet that has was not allowed to fully acclimate to its environment at the time of installation. 4) Carpet not properly powers stretched. 5) Carpet back that is very soft or very stiff. 6) Delamination
Roll Pile Crush: Some types of carpet may show a crushing of the pile when first installed due to the weight of the carpet roll depressing the pile during warehousing or shipping. Vacuuming will assist in roll pile crush recovery.
Rope Marks: This occurs when the carpet nap becomes folded over in the pad squeeze. Also, due to seams being sewn on a bias, which causes the carpet to fold over upon itself. With beck dyeing it generally occurs with an uneven penetration of dye due to its roping condition in the dye beck. With beck dyeing it will usually run diagonally to the length of the carpet and is sometimes referred to as rope marks.
Seams: In any area larger than the width of the carpet and at most standard door openings, seams will be required. Seams will often be visible and invisible seams should never be guaranteed. Visibility of seams will vary with a carpet style and can be reduced by placing seams out of a major light source. In large areas, locating the seams so they run into the major light source instead of across it will help to hide the visibility.
Secondary Backing: Usually woven jute or woven or nonwoven olefin (polypropylene). The fabric is laminated to the back of carpet (usually with latex adhesive) to reinforce and increase dimensional stability, strength, stretch resistance, stiffness, and hand. Because secondary backing is visible, whereas primary backing is concealed under the pile yarn in finished carpet, dealers and installers often refer to secondary backing simply as “backing”.
Seconds and other merchandise sold “as is”
Shading/Vacuum Cleaner Marks: Shading is a normal characteristic of luxurious, dense, cut pile carpet. Shading typically becomes most apparent right after vacuuming. This visual effect is caused by the tips of the tufts reflecting light differently than the sides of the tufts. It is an aesthetic quality in the carpet design and not a defect.
Shearing Bad: Carpet is not evenly sheared.
Shearing: Finishing process in carpet manufacturing to create a smooth carpet face by shaving off fuzz. The shearing process can also be used to create texture as in random shearing. Carpet shears have many steel blades mounted on rotating cylinders.
Shedding: Fibers that release from the pile with foot traffic or vacuuming. Shedding is a normal characteristic associated with staple yarn (spun) cut pile carpets. It will diminish with a few months of routine vacuuming but will continue to shed to a smaller degree for the life of the carpet.
Side Shading: Edges of carpet compared to one another and found to be off in color and cast.
Slack Twist: Slack Twist: Refers to a yarn imperfection where insufficient twist is applied to the thread so it has very poor ply security.
Slight Dye of Texture Variations: It is normal for carpet to have dye or textural variations from original display samples or from dye lot to dye lot. Such variations are not a basis for a claim.
Slight Sidematch: Claims will not be considered for sidematch of the same dyelot if the variation is rated 4-5 or better based on the AATCC Gray Scale Rating. (The AATCC Gray Scale Rating is a nationally recognized comparison system to determine the extent of color differences). Where correction is required, manufacturer may employ on site color adjustment procedures.
Snags: If tufts are pulled out of the carpet, clip them off with scissors. Never pull them. If a long “run” (zipper) occurs in a looped or cut and looped carpet, a carpet repairperson can correct it by reburling or gluing it back in place.
Soft Back: Can be due to application of low levels of latex compound.
Soil or Stains Locally Caused: Stain resistance does not mean that carpet won’t soil. Locally caused staining or carpet soiling is not a defect in material or workmanship. Some staining may be covered by fiber manufacturer warranties and claims under their warranties should be made to them.
Soil Lines or Bands in Length or Width: Lubricants from equipment making contact with yarn. Improper application of finishing agents.
Soil/Dirt: Lighter color, pastel, light blue and light gray carpets show soil, spills, and tracked-in dirt more quickly than darker shades. Choosing a darker colored or patterned carpet can help to reduce the appearance of soiling. Keep your outdoor landscape friendly to your carpet to reduce tracked in soil and mud. Use doormats to help minimize tracked-in soil – and clean the mats frequently. Frequent vacuuming of the carpet at all entry areas is also important.
Sprouts: (Sprouting): Sprouts are loose tufts that protrude above the surface of the pile. On cut pile carpet some sprouts are normal and not considered a defect. Never pull on a sprout, particularly if it is a looped or cut and looped style as it may result in a row of pulled yarn. To remove sprouts clip even with the pile surface with scissors. Missing tufts are not considered as the basis for a claim. The manufacturer reserves the right to replace missing tufts.
Staining: Most of today’s carpets are manufactured with fibers that have inherent stain resist qualities or this feature has been added during the manufacturing. While stain resist makes it easier to remove most food and beverage spills it does not stop them from occurring. For cleaning follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. Most fiber manufacturers have toll free 800 or 888 numbers that you can call for stain removal assistance.
Static: A static charge can build up when the humidity is low, particularly when the temperature in the building is warmer than that on the outside. Humidifiers will help to control static. With use, a carpet will hold less of a charge. Carpets are available with built in anti static protection. Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air will help to control static.
Stiff back: Can be due to application of excessive levels of latex compound.
Tip Bloom: When new, the tuft ends of a “cut pile” carpet are uniform and evenly twisted. It is a normal characteristic for repeated foot traffic to cause some untwisting of the tufts. The higher the twist and the denser the pile, of the carpet the more resistant it is to tip bloom.
Tip Shearing: Shaving off tuft high loops in the finishing process to create a cut and uncut texture or pattern.
Tufted Carpet: Carpet formed by tufting.
Tufting: A carpet manufacturing process using needles to sew yarn into primary backing.
Tufts Pulling Out: Insufficient coverage of latex will allow tufts to pull out easily.
Undyed Yarn: On solid colored carpets not enough dye was applied to completely saturate the carpet. When printing with print screens, the screen pattern can become clogged, not allowing the dye to pass through the holes in the screen.
Ugly Out: As it pertains to carpet, the loss of a carpets original appearance.
Vacuum Cleaner Marks: Shading is a normal characteristic of luxurious, dense, cut pile carpet. Shading typically becomes most apparent right after vacuuming. This visual effect is caused by the tips of the tufts reflecting light differently than the sides of the tufts. It is an aesthetic quality in the carpet design and not a defect.
Watermarking or Pooling: Watermarking or pooling is a color change effect which arises from the reversal or bending of the carpet pile fibers so that light is either absorbed or reflected from the pile. This is a common condition and is not related to carpet construction or fiber type and is not the basis for a claim.
Woven Backing: In tufted carpet, primary or secondary backing that has been manufactured by weaving. Jute and polypropylene are often used to produce woven secondary backings.
Weinheimer Group: Terry and Kevin Weinheimer are authors of Carpet Inspectors Handbook and Certified, expert carpet inspectors headquartered in the state of Oregon.