Carpeting has been around since 5,000 BC, but did not become popular until the early 17th century. The first carpeting mills in the United States were built in the late 1700s.
In the beginning, carpets were made from sheep and goat wool. While wool is still a very popular type of carpet, synthetic materials such as nylon, olefin, and polyester have become more common since the early 20th century. Synthetic carpet typically wards off stains better than natural fibers.
Carpet is the softest of all flooring choices, and it comes in a wide array of colors, textures, styles, patterns, and fiber types. Carpet is made by spinning together individual fibers to form yarn. The yarn is then woven to a backing in various ways to form the pile.
Carpet is available in three different types of pile:
Loop Pile – Loop pile leaves the entire yarn loop intact on the surface – the ends of the yarn originate in the backing. Loop pile styles include level loop, berber, sisal/cord, multilevel loop, and textured loop. Loop pile is durable and resistant to stains, but the loops can snag and be a hinderance to children or pets.
Cut Pile – For cut pile, the loops have been cut and the yarn stands up straight. This makes cut pile softer and denser than loop pile. Cut pile styles include velvet, plush, saxony, frieze, shag, and twist. The height of the cut determines the thickness and softness.
Cut and Loop Pile – Combines both cut and loop pile to create different patterns and textures.
The cost of carpet depends on the material, the quality, and the density (how many fibers are in the pile and how closely the fibers are packed together).
Pros: Carpet is soft, warm, and acts as a good insulator. It is also easier to replace than certain other flooring types. Carpet can be used with a radiant heat system, but it is not as effective.
Cons: Carpet is not biodegradable. Carpet is harder to clean than a hard surface, and the fibers harbor allergens and dust. Moisture/water damage can initiate mold growth. It can be more difficult for an elderly or disabled person to maneuver their walker or wheelchair over carpet.