How to choose new carpet and flooring like a pro!

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What Are Carpet Specifications?


Sometimes locating all the carpet specifications you need to help you make wise and informed carpet-buying choices can be difficult, if not nearly impossible, depending on where you shop for carpet. 


Some carpet manufacturers are reluctant to provide carpet specifications to their dealers and their customers. 


When it comes to Pile height, Pile Density and Face-Weight... You can figure them out all by yourself if you can figure out two out of three specifications you can still extrapolate the third specification... Mathematically!


Below I explain in detail what you need to do, and how you can quickly and easily figure out all the carpet specifications you need, even if they refuse to give you any information at all! 


Here's what consumers need to know. Lets consider these three main carpet specifications:


1. Pile Density

2. Pile Height

3. Face-Weight





1. What is Carpet Pile Density?


Pile Density is a mathematical calculation based on the fiber Face-Weight and Pile Height. Think of a heavily wooded forest. The more closely packed together the trees are, the more dense the forest is. 


The same goes for carpet. You want a carpet with the tufts packed tightly together. This helps the carpet resist matting and crushing of the pile and increases longevity. 


Pile Density is a major factor to consider when it comes to carpet durability too, almost as important as the type of Carpet Fiber you select. 

Formula #1: Face-Weight x 36 ÷ Pile Height = Pile Density

(e.g.) (30 X 36 ÷ 0.50 = 2160)

In this example, we know the face weight is 30 ounces and the pile height is 0.5 (one half inch). We can now use Formula #1 to determine the Pile Density Rating.





2. What is Carpet Face-Weight?


Most carpet samples show the carpet Face-Weight or it can be obtained from the manufacturer. You can call the manufacturer and ask for it or you can ask the salesperson to get it for you. 


Face-weight is the actual weight of the fiber used to manufacture the carpet pile, but does not include the weight of the carpet backing. Fiber Face-weight is not the same as Total Carpet Weight, which includes the weight of the carpet backing and the fiber face-weight. 


Most carpets have a face-weight somewhere between 20 ounces and 100 ounces, but the average face-weight for a residential carpet is about 35 to 60 ounces. A higher face-weight does not automatically mean the carpet is a better grade; is a higher quality; is more durable.


Fortunately, these three carpet specs are mathematically related which is good news for you. If you can figure out one, or two out of the three specs, then you can easily figure out all the other specifications using the formulas I reveal below! 


Don't worry about the number 36 or what it means, as it is a constant industry factor with all these calculations. 

Formula #2: Pile Density x Pile Height ÷ 36 = Face Weight

(e.g.) (2160 X 0.50 ÷ 36 = 30)

In this example, what we know is that the Pile Density is 2160 and the pile height is 0.5 (one half inch). We can now use Formula #2 to determine the Face-Weight in ounces.





3. What is Carpet Pile Height?


Let's assume you don't know what the Pile Height is of a carpet you are interested in buying. With a simple ruler you can measure the pile height yourself. If you want your carpet to last longer, I recommend a Carpet Pile Height of less the 3/4". 


On stairs, I recommend a Carpet Pile Height of 1/2" or less and a Carpet Padding Thickness of 7/16" or less and a Pile Density Rating of at least 8-pounds. Learn more about How to choose the correct Carpet Padding

Formula #3: 36 ÷ Pile Density x Face-weight = Pile Height


(e.g.) (36 ÷ 2160 X 30 = 0.499998 (0.5))
In this example, what we know is that the Pile Density is 2160 and the Face Weight is 30 ounces. We can now use Formula #3 to determine the Pile Height in decimals, which can quickly be converted into a fraction of an inch using the chart below.


Carpet Durability: For best durability I recommend a carpet pile height of 3/4" or less. 

Carpet on Stairs: I recommend a carpet pile height of 1/2" or less. 

Carpet Padding: I suggest a padding thickness of 7/16" or less and a density rating of at least 8-pounds or more.



Decimal to Inches Conversion Table

0.0625     =     1/16 
0.125       =     1/8
0.1875     =     3/16
0.250       =     1/4
0.3125    =      5/16
0.375       =     3/8
0.4375     =     7/16
0.500       =     1/2
0.5625     =     9/16
0.625       =     5/8
0.6875     =     11/16
0.750       =     3/4
0.8125     =     13/16
0.875      =      7/8

1.0          =     1" 





What is Carpet Tuft-Twist?


The Tuft-Twist Rating is based on the number of twists per lineal inch of tuft. It is not difficult to guesstimate the Tuft-Twist of a carpet you are considering. Tuft twist is really quite simple to figure because you can count the twists yourself. 


This one inch tall Tuft has 7 twists and is a sign of a well-made durable carpet. Frieze Styles have A TWIST rating similar to this and prices start about $30 per square yard for the carpet only. 



This one inch tall Tuft has 4 twists and is not as durable. This is a sign of a lower-grade carpet. Inexpensive Plush and Textured Plush styles often have tufts similar to this and range from $12 to $18 per square yard. 


More expensive Carpets have higher Tuft-Twist and Pile Density ratings and are designed to tolerate moderate to heavy foot traffic, last longer and be more durable.



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