Kids Carpet Basics

Picking the right carpet for your child's room is easier if you have an understanding of today's carpet terms and how they apply to your lifestyle. Listed below is some basic terminology to help you become more educated so that you can make the best children's rug or kid's carpet purchase possible.

Carpet Construction - Fiber

Fiber is carpet’s basic ingredient. The type of fiber used and the way the carpet is constructed determine how well the carpet will stand up to spills, pets, and daily traffic. Approximately 97 percent of all carpet is produced using synthetic fibers that are designed to feature style, easy maintenance, and outstanding value. There are three basic types of carpet pile fibers.
  • Nylon - It is the most popular and represents two-thirds of the pile fibers used in the United States. Wear-resistant, resilient, withstands the weight and movement of furniture, and provides brilliant color. Ability to conceal and resist soils and stains. Generally good for all traffic areas.
  • Olefin (polypropylene) - Strong, resists wear and permanent stains, and is easily cleaned. Notably colorfast because color is added during fiber production. Resists static electricity and is often used in both indoor and outdoor installations because of its resistance to moisture and mildew.
  • Polyester - Noted for luxurious, soft "hand" when used in thick, cut-pile textures. Has excellent color clarity and retention. Easily cleaned, and resistant to water-soluble stains.

Carpet Construction - Textures
Textured styles fit well with today’s active and casual lifestyles. Textured carpet can be created through the use of several construction techniques. Many of these techniques are known for their soil-hiding ability.
  • Cut pile - Loops are cut, leaving individual yarn tufts. Still one of today's most popular constructions, its durability is achieved with factors including the type of fiber, density of tufts, and the amount of twist in the yarn.
  • Textured Plush - Most decoratively versatile. Textured surfaces help hide footprints and vacuum marks. Add causal beauty to any room. Preferred style for busy households. A great “whole-house” carpet.
  • Saxony - Refined surface. Works will with traditional interiors. Ideal for living and dining rooms.
  • Friezé - Forms a "curly" textured surface because yarns are extremely twisted. Has an informal look. Helps minimize footprints and vacuum mark.
  • Plush (Velvet) - Has a dense luxurious feel. Shows footprints and vacuum marks easily. Best for low traffic areas and formal rooms.
  • Level loop pile: Here loops are the same height, creating an informal look. This style generally lasts a long time in high-traffic areas. Many of today’s popular Berber styles are level loop styles with flecks of a darker color on a lighter background. This is a good choice for contemporary to cottage furnishings.

Carpet Terminology
Familiarizing yourself with these common carpet terms will help you communicate more effectively with your carpet retailer and installer, and make the most informed carpet decisions possible.

Antimicrobial - A chemical treatment added to carpet to reduce the growth of common bacteria, fungi, yeast, mold and mildew.

Antistatic - The ability of a carpet system to dissipate an electrostatic charge before it reaches the threshold of human sensitivity.

Attached Cushion - A cushioning material, such as foam, rubber, urethane, PVC, etc. adhered to the back side of a carpet to provide additional dimensional stability, thickness and padding.

Average Pile Yarn Weight - Mass per unit area of the pile yarn including buried portions of the pile yarn. In the U.S., it is usually expressed as ounces per square yard.

Backing - Fabrics and yarns that make up the back of the carpet as opposed to the carpet pile or face. In tufted carpet:
  • Primary backing - A woven or non-woven fabric in which the yarn is inserted by the tufting needles.
  • Secondary backing - Fabric laminated to the back of the carpet to reinforce and increase dimensional stability.
Binding - A band or strip sewn over a carpet edge to protect, strengthen or decorate the edge.

Broadloom - A term used to denote carpet produced in widths wider than 6 feet. Broadloom is usually 12 feet wide, but may also be 13'6" and 15 feet wide.

Construction - The manufacturing method (i.e. tufted, woven) and the final arrangement of fiber and backing materials as stated in its specification.

Cushion - Any kind of material placed under carpet to provide softness and adequate support when it is walked upon. Carpet cushion provides a softer feel underfoot and provides added acoustical and insulation benefits and longer wear life for the carpet. In some cases, the carpet cushion is attached to the carpet when it is manufactured. Also referred to as "padding" or "underlay," although "cushion" is the preferred term. Cushion under most residential carpet should be a thickness no greater than 7/16".

Cut Pile - A carpet fabric in which the face is composed of cut ends of pile yarn.

Density - Refers to the amount of pile yarn in the carpet and the closeness of the tufts. In general, the denser the pile, the better the performance.

Frieze - Pronounced "free-zay," this tightly twisted yarn gives carpet a rough, nubby appearance.

Gauge - The distance between two needle points expressed in fractions of an inch. Applies to both knitting and tufting.

Hand - The tactile aesthetic qualities of carpet and textiles, how it feels to the hand.

Heat setting - The process that sets the twist by heat or steam, enabling yarns to hold their twist over time. Important in cut pile carpet. Most nylon, olefin and polyester cut pile carpets are heat-set.

Level Loop - A carpet construction in which the yarn on the face of the carpet forms a loop with both ends anchored into the carpet back. The pile loops are of substantially the same height and uncut, making a smooth, level surface.

Luster - Brightness or sheen of fibers, yarns, carpet or fabrics.

Pile - The visible surface of carpet consisting of yarn tufts in loop and/or cut configuration. Sometimes called "face" or "nap".

Plush - Luxuriously smooth-textured carpet surface in which individual tufts are only minimally visible and the overall visual effect is that of a single level of yarn ends. This finish is normally achieved only on cut-pile carpet produced from non-heat-set singles spun yarns by brushing and shearing. Sometimes called "velvet-plush."

Ply - 1. A single-end component in a plied yarn. 2. The number that tells how many single ends have been ply-twisted together to form a plied yarn, e.g. two-ply or three-ply.

Resilience - Ability of carpet pile or cushion to recover original appearance and thickness after being subjected to compressive forces or crushing under traffic.

Seams - In a carpet installation, the line formed by joining the edge of two pieces of carpet by the use of various seaming tapes, hand sewing or other techniques.

Serging - A method of finishing edges of area rugs by use of heavy, colored yarn sewn around the edges in a close, overcast stitch.

Soil Retardant - A chemical finish applied to fibers or carpet surfaces that inhibits attachment of soil.

Stitches - Stitches per inch. Number of yarn tufts per running inch of a single tuft row in tufted carpet.

Tuft Bind - Force required to pull a tuft from the carpet.

Tufted - Carpet manufactured by the insertion of tufts of yarn through a carpet-backing fabric, creating a pile surface of cut and/or loop ends.

Twist - The winding of the yarn around itself. Should be neat and well-defined. A tighter twist provides enhanced durability.

Yarn Ply - The number of single yarns twisted together to form a plied yarn.

*source: CRI Carpet & Rug Institute. For more info please visit