Carpet 101

07/08/2002 |

Balancing aesthetics with performance

Fiber, color, and design; carpet construction; and pile texture influence commercial carpet performance, and some basic knowledge can equip facility managers with the information to make cost-effective, performance-driven flooring selections that look better and last longer in any type of environment.

Selecting Fiber

Fiber selection is critical to a carpet’s appearance and performance. The main performance factors in a fiber are polymer type and fiber shape. Fiber type impacts everything from soil and stain resistance to matting and crushing. Nylon, for example, provides strong resistance to crushing, matting, and abrasive wear. Type 6,6 nylon, used for carpet, provides a high degree of stain resistance because of its ordered polymer structure.

Fiber shape affects how the fiber hides soil and resists crushing and matting. Trilobal is the conventional shape used for most commercial carpet yarns. Acting like a prism to refract light so soil is not as visible, this shape may collect dirt in crevices between the lobes. Trilobal shapes with long lobes also can crush and mat prematurely. Hollow filament fiber shapes have a smooth, uniform outer surface with rounded corners that eliminate crevices where soil can be trapped and its voids scatter light to make soil less visible.

Color and Pattern

Color is an important aesthetic consideration, but it also determines the amount of soil hiding in carpet. While light colors show soil more readily, dark colors show light-colored soil and lint. Medium-value colors most effectively reduce the visible effects of soiling. Random patterns provide the best soil-hiding capabilities. For more heavily trafficked areas, multi-colored carpets with medium-value colors and random patterns should be considered for optimal performance.


Texture is the second major aesthetic factor to consider in creating the overall look of the carpet. For example, cut pile is plush but can suffer from matting and crushing if not specified properly. Loop pile is more textured with density and pile height differences as key performance considerations. For high-traffic areas, loop, cut and loop with mostly loop, or tip shear with mostly loop yield the best performance.

Carpet Performance Specifications

Carpet performance can be predicted on the basis of laboratory test procedures that evaluate carpets against set standards. These standards can be written into specifications to ensure your carpet will meet the needs of your facility.

The Spec Doesn’t Stop Here

Proper installation by trained professionals ensures better long-term flooring performance and appearance retention as does a dedicated maintenance schedule.

Today’s workplace creates a diverse set of demands that an informed decision can address. Armed with the right information, facilities managers can ensure carpet selections look better and last longer in any type of environment.

Lisa Dunbar ( provides technical support for DuPont Commercial Flooring, Kennesaw, GA.

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