Commercial Carpet Guide

Carpeted hallway in modern office
Spaces Images / Blend Images / Getty Images

Commercial carpets (also known as industrial carpets) are designed for spaces that will be subjected to very high amounts of foot traffic: retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and office buildings are all classic examples of areas requiring commercial-grade carpet. However, because commercial carpet is often relatively inexpensive compared to residential carpet styles, and is of course very durable, many consumers choose to install commercial carpet in their homes, in areas such as basements, dens, and home offices.


Of course, commercial carpets typically don’t feel as soft or comfortable as residential carpets do. Commercial carpets are generally very short, dense carpets, that don’t have the same luxurious feel as the long, loose carpets in some residential styles.

Commercial carpets are available in several styles; primarily, loop and cut pile, but also occasionally in cut and loop styles.

Level Loop

Level loop is one of the most common styles of commercial carpet. So named because all of its loops are of uniform height (i.e., they are all level with each other) level loops feature strands of fibers tightly looped onto the carpet backing. In general, commercial level loops are very low profile, with small loops densely packed together. Level loops typically feature several colors or tones of one color blended together, which helps to minimize the appearance of any dirt or stains.

Cut Pile

Cut piles are popular styles of commercial carpet, particularly in the hospitality industry, because they provide a more elegant, high-end look than looped commercial carpets offer.

Cut pile commercials are very dense and very short. They range from solid colors to the dramatic prints that are often seen in hotel lobbies, restaurants and movie theaters.

Cut and Loop

Like its residential counterpart, a cut and loop style features a blend of both looped and cut fibers. The use of loops among the cut fibers generally forms a pattern.

Often in commercial carpets, cut and loops are seen in pin dot styles – where the overall effect of a cut pile carpet is punctuated with “dots” formed by a small cluster of loops.

Carpet Tiles

An increasingly popular option for commercial carpeting is carpet tiles. Tiles are desirable for many because, in the event of a stain or other damage to a small area of the carpet, it’s a relatively simple matter to pop out the offending tile and replace it with a new one. Keep in mind, though, that foot traffic, light and air pollutants can have an effect on the appearance of carpet, so a brand new tile that has been stored in a dark room for a period of time may be glaringly obvious when inserted amongst more “experienced” tiles.

Additionally, carpet tiles may be used to create appealing designs and patterns in the carpet, as seen in the image above.

There are exceptions to every rule, but generally, commercial carpet tiles are more expensive than commercial broadloom – sometimes by several dollars per square foot.

Determining Quality

Commercial styles of carpet can range drastically in quality and in price, both of which are affected by the type of fiber used in the carpet. Nylon remains the most popular fiber used in commercial carpets due to its high resilience.

Olefin (polypropylene) is also commonly used, but generally at the lower price points, as it is not as durable as nylon.

The performance of carpet depends on a number of factors. As I always say, face weight alone is not indicative of overall quality. However, all other things being equal, a higher face weight means a more durable carpet. There is more emphasis on face weight values with commercial carpets than with residential carpets, as jobs are often specified with certain criteria. For example, a purchaser may identify that they require a 28 ounce level loop nylon.

In addition to differing warranties on carpets, there are several other components of commercial carpet that contribute to the overall performance of the carpet. See the different features of commercial carpets.