Choosing carpet for your home requires decisions about color, style, texture and more. As you browse carpet types and narrow down choices, you can make many decisions by observing and touching sample products. But how can you assess factors that you can’t touch or feel, like durability and longevity?
Selecting a carpet that accents your home’s design and stands the test of time is crucial for making the most of your investment. Carpet density can be a valuable tool to help you evaluate how different carpets may perform long-term. It isn’t the only factor you should consider when searching for durable options, but density can help you compare different carpets and choose the type that best serves your needs.
Carpet Density Defined
Carpet density is a good measure of a carpet’s performance because it considers several elements of construction. As with any product, the higher the quality of construction, the longer it will last. To understand carpet density, it’s helpful to understand how carpets are put together.
Carpet can either be tufted or woven. Many are tufted, which involves stitching close rows of carpet fiber loops through a backing material. The visible material tufts in the carpet are known as its pile — also called its “face” or “nap.”
There are several ways to treat carpet pile. In “cut pile” carpets, the fiber loops are cut to create tufts of fiber. Common carpet styles like frieze and shag are made in a cut pile style. In “loop pile” carpets, the loops remain. Berber is a well-known example of a loop pile carpet.
Not all cut pile or loop pile carpets have the same construction specs, though. The frequency, proximity and thickness of the fiber tufts affect the carpet’s long-term quality.
Some elements that influence carpet density ratings include:
- Pile fiber density: This factor measures the amount of fiber present in a given volume of carpet face. Higher amounts of fiber often generate the best long-term performance.
- Tufts per inch: This factor includes the number of tufts present when counting across the width of the carpet. If there are eight tuft rows in an inch of carpet, it will have a 1/8 gauge.
Your density needs will vary depending on where your carpet is placed and the amount of foot traffic in that area.
Why Is Carpet Density Important?
Your carpet’s texture and aesthetic appeal are important performance considerations. After you select the perfect pattern, color and pile for your home, you want your carpet to remain as close to its original appearance as possible. Carpet density is a leading factor in protecting your carpet from daily wear and tear.
Here are some ways the right carpet density increases your carpet’s performance and durability:
- Texture retention: Carpet texture incorporates the visual and tactile qualities of a product’s pile cut, pattern and structure. When you walk over your carpet, it will either hold its shape or become compacted over time. “Pile crush” occurs when a carpet loses its thickness due to exposure to heavy traffic or furniture. Choosing a carpet with an appropriate density for its traffic load combats pile crush and helps maintain the structural integrity of fiber tufts.
- Aesthetic longevity: The way your carpet looks contributes to your home’s ambiance and design. The right carpeting can generate a first impression of clean beauty and add a soft, homey touch to any room. When you pick a pile height and style, it’s sensible to match the carpet’s aesthetic appeal to its functional requirements. Matching carpet density with the styles you love will keep them looking as luxurious as the day they were installed.
For maximum longevity, it’s also important that you properly care for your carpet. Clean it regularly, following your carpet’s care guide. Your efforts, paired with the proper carpet density, will keep your flooring brilliant for years to come.
To ensure the carpets you’re considering have the right construction, use the carpet specifications to calculate their densities.
How to Calculate Carpet Density
To calculate a carpet’s density rating, you’ll need to plug a few measurements in a mathematical formula. Here are a few terms to know when calculating density:
- Carpet pile or face weight: This is the amount of fiber in ounces used per square yard of carpeting. The measure only includes the carpet fiber, not any of the backing materials.
- Carpet pile height: This is the length of the carpet fibers in inches.
These values plug into the most commonly used density calculation, known as the Average Pile Yarn Density (APYD) formula. This is how the APYD formula calculates density: (36 x pile weight in ounces ) ÷ pile height in inches = carpet density in ounces per cubic yard. The resulting figure should range from about 1,000 to 7,000.
In general, the higher the carpet density numbers, the better your carpet will perform under pressure. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recommends a density of 5,000 or higher for extra heavy traffic conditions. The density you pick will ultimately depend on your home and its needs.
Here are some factors the CRI suggests you consider when comparing density scores:
- The desired carpet lifespan
- Level of daily foot traffic
- Type of foot traffic — including wheelchairs, movable furniture, carts, etc.
A carpet’s density number shouldn’t be the only factor you use to decide the type of carpet you want. Aesthetics, functionality and budget are all still essential elements to consider. Carpet density is an excellent tool to measure the long-term quality that you simply can’t see or predict when testing samples.
Even when you know the carpet density rating, you may feel uncertain whether the carpet you’re considering will maintain its desired structure. For expert advice on all your carpeting decisions, call a professional with experience to discuss your carpet selection.
Get Professional Advice on Carpet Density
When you want to ensure your carpet is an all-around match for your home, talk to the experts at 50Floor. Our knowledgeable staff can answer your questions and evaluate your carpet needs to help you find the perfect flooring for your budget and lifestyle. From carpet density to pile height, we’ll help you navigate the many options with professional expertise.
To shop with an expert from the convenience of your home, schedule a free at-home appointment with 50Floor. Our professionals will bring samples for you to browse and compare in your home’s lighting and with your décor.
If you’re ready to shop our competitive prices and experience high-quality service, set up your free consultation today!