Carpet Construstion

Mainline Floors is an american carpet company. We are not your home depot carpet center, but we hope to be your hometown carpet provider of fine carpets and wall to wall carpeting. For years I worked at empire carpet, other flooring centers, and manufacturers while dreaming of opening my own shop.

I have found that educating the consumer is the best practice, and I am happy to do so to put my textile engineering degree to good use.

What is a carpet par rating?

Most of us care more about the look and feel of carpet than how it’s made. However, taking a moment to learn a little bit about carpet construction can help you make a better decision on your carpet purchase. Let’s look at some basic elements involved in carpet construction to asses a carpet par rating.

Carpet construction: the basic elements:

  • Fibers
  • Dye (color)
  • Tufting & Guage
  • Density of pile
  • Pile height
  • Twist level of fiber
  • Backing & Latex
  • Shearing or finishing
  • Stain resistant treatments
Typical Carpet Fibers

Fibers are the basic “building blocks” of textiles, or in this case carpet. There are several different fibers widely used to make carpet today. There are natural and synthetic fibers that are used in production, however the synthetics predominately own the market share because they are highly engineered to function for specific end-uses in carpet. Typical fibers used today are:  Wool, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester (P.E.T.), and Triexta. Some fibers come from recycled products such as polyester bottles or recycled carpeting. Again, each type of fiber (or mixture of fibers) has its own unique performance feature that contribute to style, performance, and cost.

Carpet Fiber Dyes

Dye (color)

In the carpet industry, there are predominately two technologies used for dyeing residential carpets. First, the use of pre-dyed yarns (dyed before the tufting process) and, secondly, the use of post dyed yarns (dyed after the tufting process). There are numerous methods of “pre” and post dyeing performed across the textile industry. Each method can affect a carpet’s performance and stain resistance. Additional types of dyeing include skein dyeing, stock dyeing, yarn dyeing, space dyeing, extrusion dyeing, beck dyeing, continuous dyeing and print dyeing.

Carpet Tufting

Carpet Tufting

Most carpet produced today for the mass market is made using a method called tufting. The process is somewhat similar to embroidery in which pile yarns are inserted “or, tufted” into a backing material. This process has been used for many years and has been highly engineered to make production incredibly fast and more affordable.

Carpet Gauge


The distance between the needles used for tufting (referred to as the “gauge rate“) determines the density of the carpet. Residential carpet is typically 3/16 and 3/8 gauge (measured in needles per inch across the width).

Carpet Density

Density Pile

“Picks per inch, anyone?”
Like your fine dress shirt or bed sheet, the more fibers per inch, the better a carpet will perform. Dense piled carpets offer outstanding performance and long-term durability because the pile resists crushing and matting. A simple test: press your finger into the carpet pile while touching the backing. The harder it is to touch the backing, the denser the carpet is.

Carpet Pile Height

Pile Height (Nap)

Pile height (also referred to as “nap height“) is measured from the surface of the backing to the top of the tufted yarn. Similar to a golf score, a smaller number is best because a lower pile height in carpet provides a higher density construction. And, this equates to better overall performance. The taller the fibers stand above the backing, the less the carpet will perform over time. Remember, the higher the number, the lower the expected performance.

Carpet Stitch Rate

Stitch Rate 

The number of tufts along the carpet length is called “stitch rate”.

Carpet par performance, based on density, is measured by a combination of stitch rate, gauge rate and yarn pile height.

Carpet Backing

Face Weight

Never buy carpet based on weight, as “face weight” (the amount of fiber on the surface expressed in ounces per square yard) can be confused with “total weight,” which combines face weight plus the weight of the two backings and latex.

Backings & Latex

The backing you see when turning carpet over is a secondary backing used to “sandwich and enclose” the fiber and yarn between the primary and secondary backings using latex glue (a high strength enriched polymer). Most backings are a web or simple weave of either plastic, rubber, urethane or jute. Jute is the most durable performer, but has a slightly higher cost.

Carpet Twist

Twist Level

Twist level is measured in turns per inch (“TPI”) of a yarn. Though twist level is rarely reviewed prior to purchase, it can have a big impact on performance. A carpet with a higher twist level has the tendency to hold its original appearance longer than its lower twisted counterparts. Lower twisted carpets can unwind at the yarn tips, resulting in a “trafficked” appearance.

Frieze carpet styles might have 7 or 9 turns per inch, while a Saxony may have only 3 or 4 turns per inch.

Shearing or Finishing (Crimping)
If a carpet fiber is not crimped, as it is in a frieze, a textured plush, or a textured Saxony or the common 1970’s term, “shag”, it may have its tips sheared, resulting in a very dense velvety construction.

Carpet Fiber Protection

Stain Resistant Treatments
Stain resistance treatments are added to most carpets today, but the reality is that light colors will always show soil. Most treatments eventually wear off and this has to do with traffic and cleaning, so it’s important to use common sense.

Typically, carpet owners will tire of a carpet’s color or texture long before the carpet actually requires replacement. And there you have it, seven years of college down the drain.

Carpet Buying Guide. Carpet Durability

Best Carpet Durability Rating

Performance as it is measured in carpets is associated with several aspects. It is most important for the consumer as well as the specifier to understand how all these elements come together to work appropriately. Consideration of the appropriate end use and most importantly the “traffic requirements” correlates directly with the “construction” of a manufactured carpet.

Did you know that Cotton is stronger than steel?

It is, when immersed in water. What about the performance characteristics of cotton? It’s far superior to steel. Try to imagine how many times your favorite pair of jeans flexed as your knees do during everyday movement. How many times have they been washed? What were those wash cycles like? Drastic.

Carpet is a highly engineered product as are your jeans. As such, some thought needs to go into the purchase. The intended end use is the best place to start. Let us at Mainline Floors help you make the appropriate decision. We like to think about how the construction method of carpet correlates to your traffic requirements. Some science that we take into consideration:  what are the best fiber characteristics necessary for end use and performance, does the yarn size correlate with the gauge to provide ultimate performance; are the backing systems appropriate with the desired performance; and is the dye and finish (i.e., color and stain repellents) technique consistent with the end use.

However, the use of cotton in wall to wall carpeting may be a mistake.

One common misconception an end user relies on, is considering only one construction factor to determine if their commercial or residential carpet will meet specification. As such, let Mainline Floors determine what pile yarn density is important for end use performance. We will also consider the gauge, the yarn size and many other construction parameters while you consider style and traffic performance. You may end up purchasing home depot carpeting based on price. However, you may not have known or even wanted to know that cotton carpet you bought consists of yarns spun with staple fiber cotton fiber. Since staple fiber means short fiber (i.e., around 1.5″), you may not have realized at purchase that your carpet is constructed with short fibers that will eventually break free from the yarn in your carpet. However, you will realize that you are vacuuming up the majority of your floor more often.

it is important for the specifier and the end user to determine how they want the carpet to perform.

Other factors to consider.

Carpet performance is associated, in part, with pile yarn density (i.e., or, the amount of pile yarn in a given volume of carpet face). For a given carpet weight, the lower pile height and higher pile yarn density will yield the most performance for the money.

Density is also influenced by the number of tufts per inch when counting across a width of carpet. For example, a 1/8 gauge carpet has eight tuft rows per inch of width and a 1/10 gauge carpet has 10 rows per inch of width. Extra heavy traffic conditions require a density of 5,000 or more.

Jim Ives

M.S. Textile Engineer

Mainline Floors

Ten Benefits of Carpet

Luxury Mainline Master


10 Benefits of Carpet
Appearance: Carpets simply add to the décor of your space by utilizing colors, patterns, and differentiated pile heights. Carpeting can accentuate any image you desire to convey.

The Brilliant Appearance of Mainline Floors Carpet

Style: With unlimited design of patterns, cuts, and colors, there is a multitude of possibilities to depict your style.

Feel: Hard surface floors typically feel and look cold when not accentuated with a throw carpet. However, carpets typically feel good, soft, and easier on the feet. Carpets provide a “softer” feel to the home.

Style Carpets from Mainline Floors

Insulation: Carpeted floors help save energy as an insulation barrier of the indoor environment. When carpets are used to insulate floors, they further provide a better psychological feeling of warmth.

Acoustics: Studies prove that carpets absorb sound. Carpeting with padding further enhances absorption. Movie theaters typically invest in wool carpets to fully utilize the acoustical absorption. Wool fibers provide the greatest acoustical advantages.

Safety: Unfortunately, more slip-and-fall accidents occur on hard surface floors than carpeted floors. Many textiles including carpeting are designed specifically to be flame retardant from children’s clothing to aircraft upholstery and carpet.

Mainline Floors

Easier to maintain: Carpeting is less labor intensive to clean and maintain compared to hard surface flooring. As such, carpets cost less in overall product performance.

Health: Although carpet has been villainized as a culprit of poor indoor “air quality”, it is without merit. As a function of the living space, carpet basically entraps allergens, dust, and other contaminants holding them safe until they can be properly removed.

Bottles to Yarn

Sustainable: Technological advancements in recycling have been innovative in the textile industry. Almost 85 percent of worn carpet remnants are recycled into new carpet. Moreover, textile manufacturers like Unifi (click on) make recycled yarn from plastic bottles. Unifi’s production has increased 20% yearly since 2009 and is used in brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Levi’s, Nike and Ford.

Cost savings: According to the IICRC (i.e., the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) carpet typically costs less over time than hard surface flooring in terms of initial purchase, cleaning, and maintaining.* See following note.

* The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification discovered that on an annual basis, hard surface floors require two and one-half times (2x) more cleaning time than carpet. Moreover, the cost of cleaning supplies are about 7x higher (i.e., more expensive) for hard surface floors than for carpeted floors.

Consider the upfront purchase price of your new floor relative to the varied installation costs. More than likely, the carpet expenditures (i.e., in terms of upfront cost, installation and cleaning expenses) prove to be more cost-effective over the full life of the product. As such, carpeted floors provide a better return on your investment (ROI).

Shaw Carpet R2X Stain Guard Solution

What is the best carpet cleaner?

The best carpet cleaning solution is always preventative maintenance. It behooves everyone when buying a carpet to seriously consider the factory pre-stain and soil treatment solution. In this case, Shaw Industries has the superior product by far, R2X. R2X from my experience is one of the best carpet cleaners when the soil and stain repellent is applied during manufacture.

R2X® is a Stain and Soil Repellent that protects carpet fibers from dirt and spills.

The R2X Stain and Soil Resistance system was first introduced in 2001 after years of research and testing. It quickly has become the textile carpet industry’s fastest-growing protective carpet treatment. It is a revolutionary textile chemical technology advancement. It is as innovative today as the first carpet stain and soil treatments were decades ago.

Why a Carpet Consumer should consider a Shaw carpet with R2X treatment.

The Shaw R2X system goes beyond the conventional stain and soil repellents that only protect the surface of the carpet. With the R2X technology, your carpets are “armored” with total fiber coverage The R2X system offers complete protection from the top to the bottom of the yarn (the treatment is not just a topical applied stain guard). Rather, R2X provides total fiber coverage that offers an uncomparable protection against household spills and everyday soiling. With the R2X system, the spills that reach the base of the yarn do not penetrate the carpet’s fiber base system and wick back to the top as they do with conventional solutions. This phenomenon explains the typical stain that does not go away with constant cleaning and professional services.

The R2X Stain and Soil Resistance System is an amazing technical achievement.

In testing, R2X demonstrated superior carpet stain resistance on two levels. First, it provides better initial protection. And secondly, it allows more time to react to a problem. Another significant benefit of R2X is its effectiveness with polyester and polypropylene fibers. Polyester and polypropylene carpets have an inherent tendency to attract soil. Meanwhile, topical soil carpet treatments are only “skin deep,” and this limited protection offered eventually wears away after cleaning or normal wear and tear. In contrast, R2X continues to perform well after repeated cleanings. As such, the performance of nylon, polyester, and polypropylene treated with an ordinary system begins to diminish. Moreover, Shaw’s warranty protection ensures customer satisfaction.

Visual Proof

Don’t just take my word for proof, please check out these short YouTube videos that follow:


Jim Ives

M.S. Textile Engineering

Mainline Floors