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Carpet Glossary





The Axminster name indicates a carpet woven on an Axminster loom. The pile is created by inserting a variety of colored yarns that have been arranged on spools. This method allows weavers to create a complex design that uses numerous colors. Cut pile is the only available option.

Aqua Stretch

This is a slang term used to describe the method of using water to shrink a selection of carpet rather than stretching. Because this method may cause irreparable damage, it is only used under specific conditions.




The adhesive applied to the back of some woven products to increase stability, strength, and stiffness to the weave. This process helps reduce the tendency to unravel during carpet cutting and installation process.


In regards to carpet, this describes the part of the carpet where the design is placed. Many manufacturers offer a variety of backgrounds with the same design.


This usually describes the back of a woven carpet which is made of stuffer warp, chain warp, weft, or shot and occasionally even face yarns. Sometimes the backing is covered by a secondary backing.

Basket Weave

A weaving technique often used with coir, sisal, sea grass, or jute, that is an over and under weave of equally sized wefts and warps.

Binding Yarn

The yarn that runs the entire length of a woven product to interlock the weft, usually made of rayon or cotton yarn. It may also be known as warp, chain, crimb, or binder. This part of the carpet is crucial during the process of installation because it is literally the part that holds the carpet together.

Block & Squaring

This describes the process during which a carpet is attached to a hard surface and wrinkles are removed by applying steam to shrink the material.


This is a desirable and common trait in woven wool products such as carpet. It describes the opening and untwisting of the pile.

Boucle Weave

A weaving style most commonly used with jute, sisal, wool, and coir. The face yarns are woven tighlt to the weft to create a textured, or striated, appearance. When combined with a Jacquard, the designs and patterns are virtually unlimited. Popular patterns include diamonds, trellis, herringbone, and squares.


Used to describe the square through horizontal and vertical measures. This term should be used sparingly as it is not applicable to most products that are woven.


The area which surrounds the field.

Border Carpet

Usually a carpet with a very narrow width of between three and thirteen inches used as a border to increase the visual effect of another carpet such as an area rug or as a standalone piece in a narrow setting such as in a hall or on a stairway.


Typically, this term is used when multiple sections of carpet are seamed together. The term describes the span reaching across the weft of the carpet.

Broken End

An untied, or loose, warp. There are numerous possible causes, however, this is not a manufacturer defect. It is a common characteristic of woven products, more prevalent in some weaves.

Brussels Carpet

This term has historically been used to describe looped pile Wilton which has been woven on round wires. May also be described as a Brussels weave.


A technique used to repair loose ends or knots and to insert surface yarns.




A heavy fabric that may be made from any number of fibers and used as a floor covering.

Chain Warp Yarns

Warp threads located between the filler and surface warps. These usually run in pairs and alternate above and below the weft.


Fibers obtained from the husks of a coconut. Usually these fibers are woven together to create mats, however, they are also available for broadloom form. The fibers are able to withstand a higher moisture content and create a rougher texture than sisal. The fiber expands substantially so it is important that the product be given time to acclimate to the environment before installation is completed.


The number of wefts and warps per square inch.

Crows Feet

In regards to carpeting this term describes markings which have been left on the finished product from the sewing process which often resemble the footprint of a bird. This may be the result of a thread that was too heavy, thread that has been heavily waxed, a new sewer, or the type of material used. The appearance of the crow’s feet can be diminished by freeing the snagged yarns.ch.


The loss of pile height due to heavy traffic or substantial weight. It is not possible to repair the damage.



Dead Yarns

In a Wilton carpet, this indicates pile yarn that only shows on the surface if it is acting as a tuft, however, the yarn is usually visible from the back. This should not be confused with stuffer or filler yarns.


Amount of yarn included per area of a selection of carpet.


The amount of pile included in each area of the carpet. Density may also be used to describe the proximity of the tufts. The lower the density of the carpet, the less resilient the carpet is to crushing and matting.

Dirty Back

Excessive face yarn which shows through the back in a woven carpet. Typically this is caused when the face yarn becomes pinched during manufacture due to poor timing, inadequate stuffers, bulky face yarn, or insufficient tension. This is not considered a carpet defect, however, some consumers may find it less visually pleasing if the material is intended for use as something other than a rug.


A loom device that rotates to allow rows to lift, accommodating multiple wefts to create geometric patterns without a Jacquard.

Double-Glued Seams

Seams that attach the carpet to the floor to prevent edge ravel and delamination. Installers typically use this to prevent fuzzing.

Drop Lines

A technique necessary for installing a patterned carpet. The lines must be secured and squared with the space to create an even stretch.

Drop Match

A pattern that drops down and creates a diagonally repeating pattern.

Dry Rot

Damage caused by micro-organisms that have attacked the carpet, causing a loss of structural integrity. Dry rotted carpet fibers tear or break more easily.


A narrow piece of carpet which may be added to compensate for unusual cutouts or sloping walls. This should not be substituted for proper planning or installation techniques



Embossed Carpet

The pattern formed by looping the low rows and cutting the high rows. This style is most often seen on Wilton weaves.

End Out

A hole caused by a missing warp yarn. If the missing portion is small, this can be fixed by reburling.



Face to Face Wilton

This product is created when the same loom is used to create two carpets at the same time using the same face yarn. A knife is then used to separate the two individual carpets. While most carpets using this design are plain, a multi-frame loom can create a pattern. When a pattern is created, it is not an exact replica; it is a mirror image.

Face Weight

The number of fibers per square yard used in the face of the carpet excluding the backing. Face weight affects both durability and performance. This number differs from density because it is based on the height of the carpet.


The basic material used in carpet construction. Carpet fiber may be made of polyester, acrylics, nylon, cotton, wool, or recycled material.


The center portion of the carpet, the largest section, which is surrounded by a border.

Filling Yarn

The yarns that form the backing of a carpet, including the stuffer warp and the chain. In regards to weaving, this term always describes weft yarns.

Finished Seam

The final step in the seaming process during which face yarns are vigorously rubbed together to free trapped sprouts and yarns. The carpet is then trimmed for an even surface.


Common terms that refer to the installation process, the final installed product, and the carpet installer.

Flat Weave

In regards to woven broadloom, this term describes pile-less carpets in the Wilton style that have a tightly woven weft. Usually created with small geometric patterns that may be combined with a Jacquard weave to create a more detailed design.


A carpet which is made from cotton fiber or tufts of wool.


Loose carpet fibers that work their way to the surface after installation. This should not be considered a defect. While it may be frustrating for those who are cleaning the carpet, the issue should resolve on its own within a few months.


After the process of manufacturing the carpet, this term refers to Wilton carpets and is used to measure the quality of the carpet and to indicate the number of colors in a row in addition to the stuffer warps and chain. As an example: on a five frame Wilton, out of five yarns four will be buried and one will be lifted to the surface.

Fugitive Yarn

A piece of fiber or yarn of unknown origins which has become trapped during the manufacturing process in the weave of the carpet.

Full Pitch

In 27 inches of width, the maximum number of rows possible, or full pitch, is 256.


Fluffy particles which appear on the surface of a carpet. They may be caused by fibers that have become loose because of snags or a weak twist. Professional carpet cleaners can remove fuzzing by shearing the carpet.




Gauge describes tufted products while pitch describes woven products. The gauge or pitch is number of rows in a width of 27 inches.

Guard Stripe

These are usually found as a stripe or border outside of the main border. This technique is most often used on a wall to wall installation or in an area with unusual offsets such as a doorway.


– The space between the baseboard and the tackless strips. The space must be less than the thickness of the product or the carpet will not remain secure.




A zigzag pattern created with a woven product, frequently made with sisal.


consistent in both texture and appearance throughout the product.



Ingrain Carpet

A reversible weave that features a double faced and pile-less carpet made of filling yarns of color. The reversed colors and design are typically opposite of the front and may be referred to as a summer and winter side.




A weaving mechanism that allows the creation of an intricately woven pattern by simply lifting a single yarn to the surface. Historically this process was accomplished by the use of punch cards. Today the system is primarily computerized although the principle is still the same.




An axminster weave that has been modified to allow the backing and face yarns to be interlocked. This type of loom is quite versatile and is able to weave up to fifty colors to create an extensive range of textures and patterns. It easy to identify a product made by this type of loom because of the unique appearance of the back.

Kicker Burns/Pulls

Marks left by poorly maintained or improperly adjusted machinery. The damage is usually seen as fuzzy spots, pulled yarns, or perimeter tears.

Knife Cuts

– Cuts made by a knife. Usually these are found on the front of a flat-woven product or some looped products which have been cut on top of another material. This type of damage is usually made during installation and may be corrected by top sewing.

Knitted Carpets

These carpets are manufactured much like their woven counterparts although the back is looped and the face yarns and stitching use three sets of needles. This type of carpet typically has only one face yarn and may be loop, cut, or a combination of the two.


Made from synthetic fibers or tightly twisted plant fibers, this is most often used as backing yarns.



Large Void Area

– This describes a situation in which the area of missing pile is so large that it is not possible to reburl the product.

Latent Defect

A defect that is not immediately apparent such as loom oil that wicks to the surface of the carpet after installation.

Loom Oil

Usually a light mineral oil which allows yarns to pass through the machinery smoothly. If the product is applied to generously, or not completely removed during finishing, it may soil the carpet.

Low Rows

A defect in the product in which the pile heights of the rows are lower than specified by the manufacturers.




A line woven into the back of the carpet, usually on the right side, to facilitate installation.


A seam cut on an angle usually found on the border side and most often used on stairways.

Monks Cloth

A bulky woven cloth usually used as a decorative backing to camouflage back seams. Most often used in broadloom and tufted rugs.


The featured theme of the design often repeated throughout the pattern.

Musty Odor

Carpets made with natural fibers may develop a musty odor caused by mold or mildew if exposed to excessive amounts of moisture. A fungicide can be used to remove the odor.



Narrow Width Goods

A material that measures between 27 and 36 inches wide.



Oily Wires

Created when the wires of the loom have an accumulation of dirt or oil. This will produce a discoloration on the weft and will not affect the warps. The discoloration is not typically visible until the material has been put into service.

Oily Yarn

– Yarn which has become discolored due to excess oil transferring to the fibers during the twisting or spinning process. The discoloration will affect the yarn and not the weft and is not typically detectable until the material has been put into service.

Optical Streaks

When looking down the pile, these streaks will appear light in color. When looking into the pile, they will appear darker. Typically, these streaks will only be visible under certain lighting and from only one side. The effect may be reduced if the material is fitted with a nap over the shortest direction of the covered area. Usually this is caused by a variation in the visible yarn bulk and is not considered a manufacturing defect.

Overcast Stitch

A basic sewing stitch where the fiber goes through the material, over the back, and then through again.




A narrow section of product created with the intent of sewing to another narrow section, or panel.

Pattern Match

A consistent pattern throughout the carpet formed by aligning the pattern across the seams.

Pattern Mis-Match

Failure to create a pattern match.

Pattern Repeat

Measured in width and length, it is the distance required to arrive at the same location on the following pattern.

Pattern Streaks

Streaks found in some carpet patterns due to the geometric positioning of specific design elements in relation to each other. Usually visible along the length, this is not considered a defect but a design characteristic. Most often seen in patterns with open fields or large trellis patterns.

Pattern Wiggle

The curvature of a pattern. After installation this may be due to uneven stretching or it may be caused by not using drop lines during the stretching phase of the manufacturing process.


The number of weft yarns that cross the warp per inch. This is used as a form of measurement and a quality indicator.


A column of fiber in the carpet.

Pile Reversal

A feature of cut pile carpet that causes the shading of the color to appear different as foot traffic bends the fibers in different directions. Vacuuming in one direction can make the color again appear uniform.


Fluffy particles of fiber that appear on the surface of the carpet. This is most often caused by fibers that have become loose because of snags or a weak twist. Small pills can be removed with scissors. Large pills may require a professional carpet expert.


Number of warp yarns which cross the weft per inch. Used to indicate quality and as a form of measurement. The greater the pitch number, the higher the quality.

Poor Mends

A repair of the carpet surface to replace damaged or missing yarns that was not done properly.

Power Loom

A loom run by power rather than by foot or hand.


An uneven carpet surface caused by inconsistent tension during the hand sewing portion of the manufacturing process or from securing the carpet improperly to the tackless strips.




The yard is the standard unit of measurement for a carpet, and a quarter of a yard measures nine inches.



Ragged or Frayed Seams

Usually the result of trimming too close and inadvertently removing the chain warps allowing the woven item to ravel.


Dismantling a woven item either intentionally or by accident.


Dismantling a woven item either intentionally or by accident.

Ribbed Weaving

A technique in weaving achieved by varying the weft and warp thickness ratio. A thicker warp creates a vertical rib while a thicker weft creates a horizontal rib.

Round Wire

Usually refers to a velvet or Wilton carpet where the yarn remains uncut, as in a loop, after being placed onto a round wire.

Rows Per Inch

Typically used in regards to axminsters and referring to rows per inch of length.


In regards to lengthwise measurement, the term for axminster fabrics is rows and the term for velvets and Wiltons is wires.



Saddle Seam

A narrow piece placed between two breadths of carpet, sometimes used in a doorway or to repair a damaged section


The puckering found along the perimeter of an area due to improper stretching angles. Few woven products, unlike tufted carpet, allow for equal stretch in length and width.

Sealed Seams

– Seams must be sealed to prevent a woven product from raveling. This is done by encapsulating the chain warps and may require a non-latex sealer.

Seam Finishing

This is the final step in the process of seaming. The surface yarns are rubbed to free any loose or trapped yarn. Yarns that remain trapped may need to be lifted with a sharp instruments. Yarns that sprout are then trimmed flush with the carpet surface. In a loop carpet this may require adjusting low or pulled loops.

Seam Slippage

Pulling apart a sewn seam that is usually a result of inadequate sewing if found in a new carpet. In older carpets, seam slippage may be due to shrinkage from water damage.

Selvage Edge

The edge of a woven carpet that has been finished, by being tied or through the weaving process, to prevent the carpet from raveling.

Set Match

– Patterns that match across the breadth of the material. Especially important with items of narrow width.

Shooting/ Sprouting

Yarns that sprout, or shoot, above the face of the pile. They may be cut flush, unless they are in a looped carpet, but they should not be pulled. This is not a manufacturing defect and is easy to correct.


The number of filling yarns or weft in relation to each row.


This may be intentionally created by using the aqua-stretch method or may be the cause of an accidental spill or improper cleaning.


– These long fibers are harvested from a mature Agave plant. The 4’ to 6’ fibers a woven on a Wilton broadloom and the finished product is considered a matting, not a carpet. When fitted with a Jacquard an elaborate texture and pattern is possible.


Coatings applied to the back of a woven product to reduce raveling and increase stiffness.


Open spaces within the weave created from the warf or weft slipping due to a loose weave or mismatched filling and warp.


A thick lump in the yarn. Undesired slubs may be removed and the yarn replaced during burling. This is a desired effect in some natural products such as seagrass, coir, sisal, and jute.

Slub Yarn

– Yarns that contain slubs or other irregular shapes or characteristics.


An unintended pull in the yarn. On cut pile items this may be cut flush with the surface. Looped products can be pulled back into formation.


The accumulation of dirt and other particles in the fibers of the carpet.


A small foreign object within the woven product such as packing debris, string, or wood slivers. These are not considered defects and are easily rectified.

Spool Axminster

A manufacturing device that offers a large number of colors and a pliable back.


The appearance of fluffy particles on the surface of the carpet. These may be removed with scissors if small. Larger sprouts may require the attention of a specialist.


The appearance of fluffy particles on the surface of the carpet. These may be removed with scissors if small. Larger sprouts may require the attention of a specialist.

Square Weave

A woven item that has an equal number of wefts and warps necessary for some designs such as circles and squares.

Stay Nailing

A technique used during installation to hold a stretch in one section while stretching another section. This is necessary to maintain matching patterns and to prevent pattern wiggle.


Tight or loose places in the carpet along the same warp yarns due to restrictions in the warp ends from knots or slubs that have been caught during the process of weaving.


Variations that indicate too many weaving methods and yarn styles. This may be a stylistic choice and is almost never considered a defect.

Stuffers/ Stuffer Yarns

Addition yarn of varying compositions which run the warp beneath the yarn in order to increase thickness, weight, strength, and bulk..

Supplementary Weft

A weft that is not essential or functional to the structural integrity of the item but is instead included to create a desired decorative effect or texture.



Tackless Strip

Used in rows of three pins during the installation of carpet.

Texture Retention

Also known as carpet memory, this describes the ability of tufts to keep their shape even with moderate to heavy foot traffic.


A substance used in the hot-melt seaming process with either manual application with a scrim and glue gun or manufactured tapes.


Pieces of yarn which have been embedded in to the rear material of a carpet.

Turn and Tack

An early carpet installation method during which the edge of the carpet is turned under and secured with tacks to prevent raveling. This method may still be used in some areas such as near hearths or doorways although scalloping and puckers are more likely with this technique.


The winding of yarn around itself.

Twist Level

The number of times the yarn is turned, measured by inch.




The padding underneath the carpet.

Uneven Seams

One side of a seam that rides higher than the other. Not common in hand sewn items, this may be corrected with manual application of a flat tool.



Velvet Carpet

– One of the least complicated items to weave, it is similar to a Wilton although with only one yarn in each row. Because of the limited yarn per row, the face yarn can be seen from the back, further illuminating the benefits of back coating. Historically, velvets with loop piles were called tapestries. Velvets are now available in loop, cut, or a combination of the two.




A weaving term which describes all fibers which run the length of the weft. Most carpets have three warps; the pile or yarn warp, the stuffer warp, and the chain warp.

Warp Yarns

A yarn that runs the entire length of the woven item.

Waterfall Installation

A process of installing carpet on stairs. During this process the carpet is installed on the bottom of each riser and the back of each tread. When an individual section becomes worn it can be removed, reversed, and reinstalled.

Weaver’s Knot

Also known as a ghiordes knot, this is a flat knot which will not slip. This type of knot is often used to weave to threads together and may be used in both wefts and warps and may be visible in the finished product.


Fibers which run the width of the warp.

Width or Weft

Weft is the woven term for width. This term is not applied to tufted products.


Named for a town in England, Wilton is one of the most versatile looms available. It can make a beautiful and durable carpet and is only limited by the number of colors available in one row.


Wires set the height of the pile with both Wiltons and velvets.

Wires Per Inch

Number of wires used in each inch of length of a velvet or Wilton carpet.


Interlaced strands of a fiber to form a carpet.




Created from individual fibers that have been twisted together to create a single, continuous strand.

Yarn Count

Amount of yarn placed within a given area.

Yarn Slubs

Slubs found within a skein of yarn.

Yarn Streaks

Color variations in the yarn which may be light or dark.