In the loop! Know the pros and cons of different carpets.

Here’s the lowdown on carpet pile

The pile and the yarn are the defining features of any carpet.

Whether it’s natural or man-made, the yarn is woven through the backing of the carpet, forming a loop. This gives a ‘loop pile’ finish, or the loop may be cut to create a ‘cut pile’ carpet.

Most manufactures produce several styles and give them their own names such as Saxony, Axminster or Wilton. Each carpet's appearance, texture, and longevity is also determined by the type of fibre in the yarn.

Rest assured, our experienced sales staff will help ensure that you choose the right type for your needs.

To get you started, here are the main types of carpet and some key facts about them.

Axminster

This is a cut-pile carpet that is woven, ie the pile and backing yarns are woven together for greater strength.

What to know: Tends to be the most affordable of the woven carpets and is available in a wide range of colors. Like a Wilton, it is hard-wearing, but not as refined and may appear industrial.

Velvet

This carpet is soft, like the fabric for which it's named. The pile is short, uniform, and dense.

What to know: The carpet has a matte finish, giving it an understated appeal. Velvet pile generally holds up well but, like plush, its uniform surface tends to show indentations and tracks.

Wilton

Considered the premier woven carpet. It is made on a jacquard loom (which positions tufts of yarn in precise patterns) and can have cut, loop, or cut-and-loop pile.

What to know: These carpets are tightly constructed, making them dense and durable. Worsted-wool Wiltons are some of the best carpets available.

Berber

Commonly likened, incorrectly, to an undyed rug. Today the term is used broadly to describe most loop-pile carpets.

What to know: Because loop pile has no exposed tips (unlike cut pile), it is especially durable. This makes berber a good choice for high-traffic areas, such as family rooms, hallways, and staircases.

Plush

This carpets pile is cut to a smooth, level height. It is higher and less dense than velvet.

What to know: Comfortable underfoot, making it a cozy covering for a bedroom floor. But its pile is easily crushed, revealing indentations. The pile can be natural, synthetic, or a blend of several types of fibre.

Saxony

The carpet yarn has a soft twist or curl; the pile is often cut at an angle.

What to know: Saxony is not quite as textured as frieze but it still effectively conceals marks, making the carpet a popular choice for children's rooms and family rooms.

Frieze

A frieze carpet has a high number of twists formed by machine-twisting the tufts. If the twists are ultra-tight, they curl to give a highly textured appearance, but don’t confuse with shag carpet.

What to know: A very tough construction, frieze stands up well to high traffic and doesn’t show tracks and footprints

Ribbed

The carpet cut can be cut-and-loop pile or a cut-pile that is trimmed in areas to create carved designs; it may also have colour variations.

What to know: Because its textured surface can camouflage marks and stains, ribbed cut is another good choice for children's rooms or other high-traffic spaces.

Wool

strong, static-resistant, and pleasing to the touch.

What to know: It is the fiber that most synthetic fibers are meant to imitate, and it is more costly than those materials. Wool is resilient and also naturally stain-resistant and flame-retardant. Note that a wool carpet will shed a bit initially.

Silk

This type of carpet is largely produced in India, China, and Turkey.

What to know: Carpets made from silk are soft and luxurious. Silk dyes better and is more durable than any other fiber. Because of silk's high cost, the fiber is often blended with wool.

Polyester

Offers a wool-like appearance and is often used for cut-pile carpets. It dyes well, so it's available in a range of vibrant colors.

What to know: This carpet is soft, stain-resistant, and affordable. It's not as resilient as other carpet fibers, and may mat down in a short period.

Nylon

A popular option, though relatively pricey.

What to know: Nylon is durable, resilient, and stain-resistant. It is one of the more expensive synthetic fibers. The fiber comes in many hues; look for solution-dyed nylon, which is colorfast.

Paper

This carpet is actually made from paper cords coated in a protective wax.

What to know: Paper carpet is, in fact, quite strong. It is more water-resistant than carpets made from other plant fibers, but liquid spills should still be blotted immediately.

Linen or Flax

Linen yarn is made from flax. Most linen carpeting is produced in France and Belgium (the latter is generally considered the better quality).

What to know: Linen carpet is lustrous and can help absorb humidity. However, it can be quite costly, and with age, linen carpet will reveal traffic patterns.

Sisal or Sisal-Like

Sisal comes from the agave plant; the highest-quality fibers are from East Africa.

Sisal-like carpets are meant to imitate the look of sisal or other plant fibers and are made from wool or a synthetic.

What to know: Sisal is strong (second only to wool). It is one of the more pricey plant fibers. Sisal is particularly prone to fading in direct sunlight and can be stained even by water. The Sisal-Like mimics are softer underfoot than the real thing, and they release stains better. However, many people prefer the appearance of real sisal.

Jute

This flooring type is made from the jute plant, which also is used to make burlap and twine.

What to know: Jute is softer than sisal but also less durable. Like sisal, it can be damaged easily by sunlight and liquids.

Coir

Made by taking the fiber taken from the hairy husk of coconuts

What to know: durable, wiry, and mildew-resistant. In other words, coir makes the perfect doormat.

Sea Grass

Made from a variety of reedy plants and has a greenish tint.

What to know: Although durable, sea grass carpets are not very absorbent; they should not be used in moist or humid rooms. Sea grass costs less than sisal and jute..

Shag

These carpets have piles so long they do not stand upright, giving the carpet a "shaggy" look.

What to know: No longer just a throwback to the 1960s and '70s, today's shags come in contemporary colors and have an inviting feel.