How is Soft Carpet Made?

November 02, 2020 4 min read

What is it that makes carpet such an enduring and popular flooring choice for so many people’s homes? Some might say that it’s the cozy, inviting look of carpet. Others might say that they appreciate the warmth and comfort it provides underfoot. However, most people would agree that there’s nothing quite like the softness of a carpeted floor. Whether you’re lying on your carpet to play with children or pets, or during a family movie night, or just walking across your carpet throughout your day, a soft carpet is an undeniable benefit you won’t find with any other flooring type. But what exactly makes carpets soft? If you’ve ever been curious about how carpets are manufactured to create the softness you know and love, read on to learn more. 

The Basics

It’s helpful to start with a foundational understanding of the structure of carpet: this beloved household textile is made up of individual filaments or threads, which are bundled together to form fibers resembling yarn. These yarn-like fibers are then twisted around each other and attached to carpet backing, forming a loop of carpet fiber that is either left intact or cut to create distinct styles of carpeting, such as plush or pattern visuals. Regardless of what the finished product is called or how it looks, the type of material used to create the carpet can have a significant impact on its softness. 

Fiber Material

Nearly all residential carpets are made of either nylon or polyester. Simply stated, nylon is easier to dye different unique colors such as dark red, green, and blues. However, this also means that nylon is more easily stained and therefore typically has a lot of chemicals applied to protect against staining. The unfortunate part of stain protectant chemicals is that they start wearing off the day your new carpet is installed. Polyester is tougher to dye, but that means that it’s also inherently stain resistant. Manufacturers over the years have developed innovative ways of dyeing polyester carpets vibrant colors – making the fiber the ideal choice for new carpeting.

Filament Size

Let’s take it down to a level of greater detail: the individual filaments that compose the carpet fibers. In the textile world, there’s a unit of measurement known as a denier number, and it refers to the thickness of the individual threads or filaments in a given material. A lower denier number denotes a finer material, and therefore an overall softer product (like the inverse of thread-counts for sheets). An average denier number for carpets ranges from 20-24, so it goes to reason that a lower number would yield an overall softer carpet, while a higher number would give you a carpet that’s relatively less soft. Another point of consideration - a lower denier, while making the carpet soft, also makes it less durable, since the individual threads aren’t as thick. It’s important to find the right balance of softness and durability.

Ounce Weight

One common measure of how “plush” a carpet feels is based on its ounce weight. The industry standard for measuring carpet ounce weight is how many ounces one square yard of carpeting weighs. A high ounce weight plush carpet feels softer than a low-ounce weight carpet. In addition, the plushness of the carpet pad used make a really big difference in how soft a carpet feels.

When a carpet has a high ounce weight combined with low denier, it means you get the super fine, soft filaments, and there are A LOT of them. This combination helps to achieves both softness and durability to make a high quality carpet.

Pile & Cut

Another major factor in how soft a carpet feels is the final treatment of those loops we learned about earlier. If you’ve ever shopped for carpet, then you’ve likely heard the term “pile” before to describe carpeting, and it’s an important word that tells you about the final form those carpet looks take. 

  • Cut-Pile (Plush) -- If you take the loop of carpet fiber and cut it, you’ll end up with two strands of carpet fiber with soft, fuzzy edges. The individual fibers are still twisted tightly to create a strong, plush carpet, but the part that you touch remains delightfully fluffy. Plush is extremely soft to the touch, which accounts for its wide popularity in residential settings.
  • Level Loop Pile (Loop) -- The most recognizable type of carpet in this category is berber carpeting. Like its name implies, the loop of carpet fiber is left uncut, which creates a lower profile carpet that can be somewhat less soft than cut pile flooring. Berber is very dated.
  • Cut-and-Loop Pile (Pattern) -- Also known as patterned carpet, this style leaves some fibers intact and cuts others (a hybrid of the two preceding styles), which creates a subtle monochromatic pattern in the carpet. Common patterns are diamonds, squares, or more abstract variegated looks. You’ll see this type of carpet in residential and commercial settings, and the degree of softness depends heavily on the type of fiber material used. Pattern carpet is really niche and less common in homes.

Carpet by MyFlooring

At MyFlooring, we’re big fans of durable and beautiful flooring, but we have a “soft spot” for carpets. We took our combined flooring industry experience and sought to bring the highest quality soft carpets to our customers without the added expense of in-store shopping, or confusing pricing. 

All our carpets are designed with your real life in mind -- they’re stain-resistant, durable, and come with no-nonsense warranties and your satisfaction guaranteed.

Now that you know everything there is to know about what makes carpet soft, you can make your cozy carpeting dreams come true from the comfort of your couch. Start shopping now!

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