About Carpet Durability and Foot Traffic
©2021 Alan Fletcher
How long will my carpet last? There are several carpet specifications that will help determine how long a particular carpet can tolerate your level of foot traffic.
The main factors most homeowners must consider are:
There are several different types of carpet fibers to choose from. For example; Nylon is known as the most durable fiber available today and is also the most expensive to manufacture.
But not all nylon fibers are created equal. Some are more durable than others and some nylon fibers are made softer than others due to the diameter or “denier” of the strand.
The thinner the fiber strand the softer the carpet will feel. But does a softer feel make for a less durable carpet? I think so…
When groups of fiber strands are gathered together and twisted they form into “Tufts” These tufts are inserted into the carpet backing to create various styles of carpet.
When the tufts are twisted together they use heat to “set” the tufts – similar to how women use a curling iron to curl their hair.
The number of twists formed per lineal inch is how they determine the “Tuft Twist” rating. Most plush style carpets have a tuft twist rating of 4 to 6.
Frieze styles are known for having a tuft twist rating of 6 to 8. Generally speaking, the higher the tuft twist rating the longer your carpet will retain it’s “like new” appearance.
This is because over time the tufts may begin to lose their twist or “blossom” causing the carpet to gradually lose it’s like new appearance.
Some carpet fibers are able hold their “twist” better than others and this ability is known as being more “resilient”.
Nylon is the most resilient carpet fiber available today. Polyester is the least resilient carpet fiber.
Carpet face-weight is the weight of the fiber that is used to manufacture the carpet pile.
Face weights range from 20 ounces to 120 ounces and most residential carpets sold today are between 30 to 60 ounces.
Generally speaking, the higher the face-weight, the more durable the carpet will be. But this does not always hold true.
If the pile height is too tall, it may be more prone to matting and crushing.
Depending on your level of foot traffic, you may need to limit the pile height and increase the face weight.
This is what we call the “Pile Density” rating.
Pile Height /Density Rating
Using a mathematical formula we can take the Pile height and pile face-weight to determine the Pile Density rating.
Generally speaking, the higher the pile density the more durable a carpet will be. This holds true more often when the pile height is not too high as to limit the potential for matting and crushing of the pile.
Once the carpet tufts begin to fall over, crush and collapse the carpet will lose its like-new appearance. Some carpet fibers are more prone to matting and crushing than others.
With nylon carpet, a good cleaning may help restore the tufts to their original upright position and allow your carpet to regain some or all of its like new appearance.
However, carpets made from other fibers may not yield the same favorable results.
What is the best pile height and density rating for the carpet that will best serve your needs and goals? Take my free carpet foot-traffic test.