Common Carpet Terms Defined

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When you go shopping for carpet, there are a lot of industry terms that you likely won’t be familiar with. Below is a list of common carpet terms, to help you understand the components of carpet performance, and the options available to you.

BCF Fiber

BCF stands for bulked continuous filament, and it refers to the length of the fibers used to make the carpet, and how it is manufactured. Unlike shorter staple fibers, BCF fibers are woven continuously through the carpet backing.


The term Berber commonly refers to a style of carpet that is made of looped fibers, but in technical terms, Berber actually refers to carpet that has a fleck of another color running through it.


This type of blooming doesn’t occur in your garden, although the symbolism of the word is the same type of idea. Blooming in carpet terms refers to the untwisting of carpet fibers.


Are the terms broadloom and carpet interchangeable? Today, they pretty much are. The term broadloom refers to carpets hand-woven on a loom, and literally means “wide loom”, meaning that the carpet was made on a large roll instead of a smaller area rug. Today, most carpets meant for wall-to-wall installation are manufactured in 12- or 15-foot widths, so yes, today’s carpet is able to be called broadloom.

Cut and Loop

Cut and loop is a style of carpet made by using a combination of looped fibers and cut fibers. This is currently a very popular style, but it may not always be the best choice.


The term density is one of the most misunderstood and misused carpet terms. Often confused with face weight, density is actually representative of how close together the fibers are stitched into the carpet backing. It is calculated using a specific formula.

Face Weight

As mentioned above, face weight is often confused with the density of a carpet. Face weight is literally the weight of the carpet pile (not including the backing) per square yard. Face weight is very overused in the carpet industry and often abused by salespeople as an easy way to lead customers to believe they are getting a higher quality carpet.


A popular style of carpet, frieze is sometimes referred to as a twist or even a shag carpet. Friezes feature long lengths of fibers that are tightly twisted together, causing them to curl slightly. It is typically very durable and suitable for many uses.

Natural Fibers

The term natural fiber refers to any type of fiber that is not man-made (i.e., synthetic). Many different natural fibers are used in carpet, with the most popular being wool. Other natural carpet fibers include seagrass, sisal, and jute.


A remnant is a smaller piece of carpet that is typically the 'end of the roll'. Remnants vary in size, usually ranging from about 3 feet up to around 25 feet, but they can be any size. They are often sold 'as is', meaning that they do not come with a full warranty, but they are generally offered at discounted prices.

Reverse Pile

This is generally a less common carpet term, and probably not one that you will hear while you are shopping. All styles of carpet have a direction in which the fibers are running; this is referred to as the direction of the pile. Reverse pile occurs when there is a change in the direction of the fibers – either as a result of manufacturing or of poor installation, or sometimes, it’s an unexplained phenomenon.


A Saxony is a style of carpet characterized by cut fibers of uniform length. It is probably the most iconic carpet style, and what may come to mind for many when they hear the term broadloom. Despite being around for many years, today’s Saxonies are as stylish as ever, and still popular choices.

Stair Terms

Although not specifically carpet terms, these common stair terms are still helpful to know if you are shopping for carpet for your stairs.

Synthetic Fibers

The term synthetic refers to man-made, so, in contrast to the natural fibers discussed above, synthetic fibers are man-made carpet fibers, and include nylon, polyester, olefin, and triexta.


The term trackless refers to a style of Saxony that features twisted or kinked fibers so that the appearance of footprints and vacuum marks are minimized.


In carpeting terms, twist can refer to either a style of carpet that is highly twisted (a frieze, as described above) or to the twist number of a carpet. The twist number is the number of times carpet strands have been twisted in a one-inch length of fiber. The twist number is one of the most important components of a carpet’s durability.


The term warranty refers to the manufacturer’s warranty offered on the carpet. It can consist of many individual warranties, such as a warranty against texture retention, fading, and staining.