A cut and loop is a style of carpet that is made by combining looped fibers with cut (straight) ones. This allows the manufacturer to create a design in the carpet, which can be geometric or abstract.
Cut and loop carpet was very fashionable during the 1970s and 1980s but lost a lot of popularity through the 90s. However, with many new contemporary styles introduced in the last several years, cut and loop have become trendy once again.
The cut and loop styles of the 70s and 80s were primarily available in a “sculptured” or “carved” design, which featured a cut-pile carpet with a few squiggly lines made out of loops running randomly through it -- somewhat resembling a marble texture. These were mostly dramatic, multi-colored looks in the 70s, and faded to softer, more muted tones in the 80s.
Today, there is much more variety in the styling of cut and loops, and most of it has moved away from the sculptured look and into more geometric designs. Current styles include small square- or diamond-shaped patterns, made by having the outline of the shape contrast the actual shape (for example, a recessed square made out of loops in a cut-pile carpet) or pin dot styles: a short, cut-pile carpet that features several tight loops grouped together at small intervals. Some abstract styles can also be found, such as in "wave" patterns.
The primary advantage to cut and loop style is the appearance. Cut and loop patterns provide nice texture and visual interest to a carpet, and are a matter of personal preference – some people prefer it, some don’t.
As many of today’s design trends rely heavily on texture, cut and loop styles fit in nicely with contemporary décor.
The biggest disadvantage to this style of carpet is that it tends to produce a worn-out look, even when the carpet is performing as it should. This is caused by the longer cut fibers bending or blooming (untwisting) over top of the shorter looped fibers, effectively hiding the looped fibers.
Regardless of the length of the cut fibers, it is the nature of any fiber to move, bend or flatten. It is less obvious in a cut pile carpet such as a Saxony, where all of the fibers are cut and move together and are supported by neighboring fibers. However, in a cut and loop, there is a gap in the cut fibers (where the loops exist) so it is much more obvious when the cut fibers lean. This can cause the carpet to look as though it has worn down.
Another drawback to cut and loops are the cost. In general, most cut and loops tend to be more expensive than berbers, Saxonies or friezes of comparable quality and fiber type, due to the added intricacy of creating the patterns.
As with most styles of carpet, cut and loops are available in a variety of qualities. The amount of foot traffic the carpet will get, as well as the length of time you want the carpet to last, should be taken into consideration when deciding if a cut and loop is an appropriate choice for your home.
My general advice is to avoid using a cut and loop in high-traffic areas such as stairs and hallways, due to the worn-out appearance described above. With heavier traffic, this effect will be even more noticeable.
My recommendation would be that cut and loops are better suited to areas with low to moderate amounts of traffic, such as bedrooms, dens, or basements (assuming the basement is not the main living and entertainment area).
Make a Rug
Cut and loop styles of carpet can make beautiful area rugs, as they can offer a subtle pattern in an endless selection of colors. Having an area rug made out of a broadloom in this style can offer the trendy texture of the rug, without the long-term worry of a worn-out look.