Frieze: the Modern Shag

Pros and Cons of Frieze Carpets

Highly twisted white frieze carpet

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Frieze, also referred to as twist, is a very popular style of carpet today. Frieze is essentially the modern version of the old shag carpet from the 1960s and 1970s. Luckily, it has evolved since then. While you may have memories of your parents raking their carpet, fear not: Today's shags are more stylish and durable than ever. No rakes involved!

Style of Frieze Carpets

Frieze is characterized by long fibers that have a high twist. In many frieze styles, the fibers have been twisted so much that they actually begin to curl back upon themselves, in the same way, that string or hair twisted in your hand would.


Frieze is generally constructed of skinnier fiber strands than traditional shag carpet. Shags often had a bulkier look, while friezes have a thinner, leaner look. Frieze is usually longer than a saxony or trackless style, and not as high in density as most saxonies.


High durability is probably the biggest advantage of frieze. A large part of a frieze's durability is due to its high twist. A strand of carpet is strongest on its side, rather than the end of the strand. When a fiber is standing straight up and down, the impact of foot traffic occurs directly on top, where it acts similar to a hammer driving a nail and will eventually crush the carpet. Repeated impact on the tips of the fibers can contribute also to blooming—where the fibers begin to untwist at the tips.

When a fiber is long and flopped over, as is the case with a frieze, the impact occurs on the side of the fiber, where there is no danger of blooming, and where the fibers together have maximum strength. This is why the shag carpet in your parents' basement has endured for so long!

Pros of Frieze Carpet

Another advantage of a frieze is that the long fibers are perfect for hiding seams. If your room is wider than the width of the carpet (standard widths are 12' and 15') you will require a seam. This can sometimes give the appearance of a line through your carpet.

Friezes seam together beautifully, usually leaving no visible trace of the seam. They are also great for stairs and hallways with pickets (railing posts). They hide the seams where the carpet has been cut around the posts, and hide the staples on stairs extremely well.

The long and loose fibers are also great for hiding dirt, which makes frieze attractive to people with busy households. They also help to minimize footprints and vacuum marks on the carpet.

Finally, friezes are usually pretty soft, and comfortable to walk on. Again, this is due to their long and loose construction, as well as the fact that many modern carpets feature new softer fibers (such as Mohawk SmartStrand).

Cons of Frieze Carpet

One drawback to friezes is that they can be difficult to clean. With tighter, shorter piles, spills tend to sit on top of the carpet, where you can easily clean and remove the carpet stain. Since frieze fibers are long and loose, the spill is free to run everywhere, making it much more difficult to tackle.

For this reason, you want to be certain that the carpet has excellent stain resistance. Look for comprehensive stain and soil warranties on the carpet. You may wish to choose a solution-dyed fiber, which means that the color is added directly in the manufacturing process, not applied later. Therefore, the color goes entirely through the fiber, which in the most basic terms means very high stain resistance.

Recommended Uses

Frieze carpet works well in a variety of home settings. The top recommendations would be the family room, hall and stairs, and bedroom. It has a look that is compatible with more casual décor and is soft and cozy enough to lounge on while playing a game with the kids or sink your toes into first thing in the morning. It is definitely durable enough to withstand the high-traffic areas such as hall and stairs, and, when properly selected according to household conditions, promises to retain its beauty for years to come.

Friezes also look great as custom area rugs.