The Importance of Face Weight When Judging a Carpet

Carpet tile weighed on a scale
Cheryl Simmons

Carpet face weight is defined as the weight of the carpet pile per square yard of carpet, measured in ounces. The term refers to the weight of the carpet's fibers only, not the backing material. It should not be confused with the carpet's total weight, which is the combined weight of the pile plus the backing. 

How Important Is Face Weight?

Face weight has become the main selling feature for a lot of carpet retailers. This is unfortunate and somewhat misleading since it leads consumers to believe that face weight is the most important criteria for determining the quality of a carpet. It is a common understanding that a higher face weight means a more durable carpet. As you will soon learn, however, this is not always the case. Face weight needs to be placed in context to truly understand its relevance. 

The truth is that face weight is only one of several factors that play a key role in determining carpet quality. In order to truly understand the quality of the carpet, several important factors need to be taken into consideration, including fiber twist, fiber type, and carpet style.

Weight and Carpet Style

Obviously, styles of carpet are constructed differently, and you cannot make comparisons of two different construction styles based solely on face weight, For example, Berbers tend to have lower face weights than saxonies, because of their low pile and relatively low number of fibers. A very good quality Berber carpet might have the same face weight as a saxony of mediocre quality, for instance. A 28-oz. berber, for example, is most likely going to outperform a 28-oz. saxony. The face weight of the carpet has no value as a criterion when comparing carpets of different styles—but it is of some value when comparing two carpets in the same construction category. Even here, though, there are limitations to how much emphasis to place on the face weight number. 

When Does Face Weight Matter?

Carpet face weight is most useful when comparing two carpets that are otherwise identical: they are made from the same fiber, constructed in the same style, have the same twist, etc. For example, many manufacturers offer certain carpet styles in "Good-Better-Best" formats, where all grades are the same except for the face weight. (This kind of ranking is often offered with saxony carpeting, where 40-oz., 50-oz. and 60-oz. weights are available.) In these instances, the weight will indicate the quality of the carpet, with the higher weight being the better quality.

A higher face weight will usually indicate a higher quality—but only when all other aspects of the carpet are equal.