Since we stock and sell more woven broadloom carpets than anyone in the Washington DC metro area, it seemed appropriate to re-publish this list of terms. Comments and suggestions for improvement are always welcome. You can email them or simply leave a comment on this post.
3-4-5 RULE – A triangle with sides 3′, 4′ & 5′ respectively will always produce a ninety-degree corner and can be used to determine if an installation is square with the use of stay nails and drop lines. 3-4-5, 6-8-10, 9-12-15, 12-16-18 and so on, all are workable formulas. This is a common rule used throughout construction, especially in tile and wood floor applications.
AXMINSTER – Carpet woven on an Axminster loom. Pile tufts are individually inserted from varied colored yarns arranged on spools. Allows for complex designs incorporating many colors, such as Oriental design rugs. Available as a cut pile only. Named for a town in England, it was invented in America
AQUA STRETCH – Slang installation expression for employing water to shrink carpet as opposed to stretching. This technique has very limited applications and unrepairable damage can result if used incorrectly or inappropriately.
BACKCOAT – An adhesive that is applied to the back side of some woven goods to add strength, stability and stiffness to the weave. Reduces unraveling while cutting during installation & fabrication. Some enable heat taping of seams.
BACKGROUND – The element, or area within pattern carpets on which the design rests. Many times woven manufactures offer the same designs with different background colors.
BACKING – Backings of woven carpets consist of the chain warp, stuffer warp, shot or weft and sometimes-even face yarns, basically the back side of the carpet unless a secondary backing has been applied.
BASKET WEAVE – Simple over and under weave of equal warps and wefts. Very common with sisal, coir, jute & seagrass products.
BINDING YARN – The cotton or rayon yarn running the length of woven products interlocking the weft. Also known as; crimp warp, binder warp, chain. Crucial during the installation, fabrication & seaming process, it is the chain that binds.
BLOCK & SQUARING – A process that allows for correction of bow/bias with certain woven products. Common and often necessary in the fabrication of area rugs especially bordered rugs. See Blocking.
BLOCKING – A process that allows wrinkles to be removed from certain woven products by nailing to a wood surface or floor and shrinking the materials with steam or boiling water.
BLOOMING – The opening & untwisting of the pile yarns. Very common and a desired trait with tightly woven wool products.
BOUCLE – (boo-clay) Face yarns that are woven tight to the weft creating a rough, and often times, striated appearance. As in boucle sisal, wool boucle, jumbo boucle, petite boucle, etc… See boucle weave.
BOUCLE WEAVE – A wilton weave commonly used to weave sisal, jute, coir, wool and various combinations. Combined with a Jacquard, unlimited designs with patterns, textures and designs are possible. As in herringbone, diamonds, squares and trellis patterns.
BOW/BIAS – The correct term for describing and determining a woven product is square through vertical & horizontal measures. Bowed and/or skewed are not terms applicable to most woven products and should only be used with caution.
BORDER – The area surrounding the field. See Inset Border & Guard Stripe.
BORDER CARPET – Often a narrow width product intended to enhance the aesthetic value of the another carpet, either as an area rug, fitted wall to wall and quite stunning in halls and stairways. (3″, 6″,9″, 13″ are common border widths)
BREADTH – Refers to the span across the weft of the carpet and generally used when several sections are seamed together.
BROKEN END – A broken, loose or untied warp. Can be surface yarn, filler yarn or stuffers. Many possible causes such as knots, slubs, shuttle hitting the warp shed, excessive warp tension, rough reeds, dropwires, etc… Not a manufacturing defect rather a characteristic of weaving more common in some weaves than others weave.
BRUSSELS CARPET – Also known as Brussels weave it is a historic term used to describe a looped pile wilton woven on round wires. Historically woven from fine worsted wool in a .252 or .256 pitch.
BURLING – A repair technique to remove knots, repair loose ends and insert missing or misplaced tufts or surface yarns.
CHAIN WARP YARNS – Warp threads sandwiched between the surface and fillers warps, nearly always running in pairs and alternating above and below the wefts. See Binding Yarn.
COIR – (coy-yer) Fibers from around the husks of coconuts often found as mats although is available in broadloom form. It is a strong ‘moisture friendly’ fiber with a much rougher texture and appearance than sisal. When exposed to excessive moisture the product expands making acclimation to environment crucial for installed applications.
COUNT – The number of warps and wefts in a square inch.
CROWS FEET – Marks left from the hand sewing process that resemble a birds footprint caused by the sewing thread catching the face yarn. Often this is the result of too heavy a thread a heavily waxed thread or an inexperienced sewer. However, sometimes its just the nature of the product. This can often be corrected or greatly improved by freeing the snagged yarns. See Finished Seam.
DEAD YARNS – Pile yarn in wilton carpet that does not show on the surface unless acting as a tuft. Often these are visible from the back. Not to be confused with filler and/or stuffer yarns.
DIRTY BACK – With woven carpets this term refers to excessive face yarns showing through the back. Usually a case of the face yarn becoming pinched as a result of poor timing, insufficient tension on the face yarn, excessively bulky face yarn and inadequate stuffers. While not a considered a defect, some may find is visually unpleasing when the materials are intended for area rugs.
DOBBY – A loom device that through rotation allows the rows to be lifted to accommodate any number of shots (wefts) creating geometric patterns. This allows the creation of patterns without a Jacquard.
DROP LINES – An installation technique necessary with pattern carpets. Simply the securing of lines, or string, square with the lay of the space to ensure an even stretch is achieved. See Pattern Wiggle.
DROP MATCH – A pattern that drops down to create a diagonal repeat. Most often half the pattern however not always. See Set Match.
DRY ROT – Micro-organisms attacking the carpet resulting in loss of strength and integrity allowing it to break and tear easily. Just work with the piece and if you hear it “crackle” in your fingers, you’ve got dry rot.
DUTCHMAN – A narrow strip of carpet added to compensate for sloping walls or unusual offsets or cutouts that should never be substituted for proper installation techniques or planning.
EMBOSSED CARPET – Generally in wilton weaves, where the pattern is created by the high rows being cut with the low rows being looped.
END OUT – A hole or void created by a missing warp yarn. If not excessive, this sometimes can be corrected by reburling.
FACE TO FACE WILTON – Two carpets produced on the same loom at the same time sharing the same face yarn. A knife blade cuts and separates the two. Most carpets are plain. However on multi-frame looms the two carpets are not identical, rather mirror images of the other.
FIELD – The largest or center portion surrounded by border. (Field Carpet).
FILLING YARN – As applied to carpet this term would include the construction yarns such as the chain and stuffer warp often forming the backing. In weaving terms, filling yarn always refers to weft yarns. See weft.
FINISHED SEAM – The last step in the “sewn” seaming process where face yarns are rubbed vigorously to free any trapped yarns and sprouts are trimmed even with the surface.
FITTING/FITTED/FITTER – The international term for installation, installed and installer.
FLAT WEAVE – As applicable to woven broadloom these are pile-less ‘wilton’ carpets woven tight to the weft. Most often done in small-scale geometric patterns. Combined with a Jacquard enables more elaborate designs. As in wool flat-weave, sisal flat-weave, etc… See Boucle weave.
FLUFFING – Loose fibers left from the manufacturing process that work their way to the surface after being placed in service. Not a defect, and should disappear within a few months. Can be quite frustrating for the cleaning staff.
FRAME – While other applications of the term exist specific to the weaving process. Post manufacture; the term applies to wiltons and used to measure quality and indicate the number of colors, or face yarns, in a row in addition to the chain and stuffer warps. Thus, on a five frame wilton, of the five yarns, one is lifted to the surface while four remain buried. See Dead Yarns.
FUGITIVE YARN – A yarn or fiber of unknown origin somehow trapped in the weave during manufacture. Remove it!
FULL PITCH – Specifically a 256 pitch. This term refers to the maximum number of rows possible in 27 inches of weft. See Gauge/Pitch
GAUGE/PITCH – Gauge applies to tufted products, pitch applies to woven.
Pitch is the number of rows in 27 inches of width. Thus, an 8-row product (8×27) would be a .216 pitch. Remember pitch is for woven gauge is for tufted.
GUARD STRIPE – The stripes or borders on the outside of borders. On wall to wall, installation guard stripes are often used to fill into doorways and unusual offsets. See Border.
GULLY – The space between the tackless strips and the baseboard. Also known as the ‘pinch-in’, this space must always be less than the thickness of the product. Otherwise it will not ‘pinch-in’ and will pop out, unravel & sprout!
HERRINGBONE – Zigzag pattern often done with woven products. Very popular with sisal and the “sisal-look” products.
HOMOGENEOUS – Consistent in appearance and texture throughout.
INGRAIN CARPET – A historic “reversible” weave that is a double-faced pile-less carpet of colored filling yarns. When reversed the design and colors are often opposite from the other side, commonly referred to as summer/winter. Aka: Scotch or Kidderminister.
JACQUARD – A versatile pattern mechanism which allows the intricate weaving of patterns and designs by lifting a single specified yarn to the surface. Originally, this was accomplished using punched cards, not unlike the ‘player piano’. However most modern looms use computerized Jacquard systems, although the principle remains unchanged.
KARA-LOC – A modified axminster weave enabling the face and backing yarns to be interlocked. A very versatile loom capable of weaving up to 50 colors and a wide range of patterns and textures. Easy to identify from its unique back side. Patented by Karastan in the US as Kara-Loc and also by Crossley, in Canada, as Crossweave.
KICKER BURNS/PULLS – Marks left from improperly maintained and/or adjusted nap-grips or pins. Visible as pulled yarns, fuzzy spots or tears around the perimeter of the room. Multi-frame looped wiltons and flat-weaves are especially vulnerable to this type of damage. Most often correctable with patience and care. Similar damage can result from power stretcher heads!
KNIFE CUTS – Simply cuts made with a knife. Quite often, found on the face of flat-woven products and certain looped products where materials have been cut on top of other materials. These are most always installation related and usually not repairable. With axminsters, these cuts are done from the back when taking cuts from the roll. Often not noticed until the materials have been fitted, these can be easily repaired by top sewing.
KNITTED CARPETS – Manufactured in one operation like woven products although by looping the backing, stitching and face yarns with three sets of needles similar to knitting. Knitted carpets only have one face yarn and can be cut, loop or combination.
KRAFTCORD – Used as backing yarns and is made from tightly twisted plant fibers or synthetic fibers.
LARGE VOID AREA – An area missing pile so large that reburling is not possible.
LATENT DEFECT – A defect or problem not apparent before, during or shortly after the installation. One example would be loom oil wicking to the surface.
LOOM OIL – Generally a light mineral oil used to enable the yarns to pass smoothly. If over applied or not completely removed during finishing, these will result in soiling after being placed in service. Generally, these spots may be removed easily with dry solvent spotting and cleaning.
LOW ROWS – A quality defect where rows have pile heights below the specification. Sometimes found in Axminsters when yarn spool is near empty.
MARKER – A colored line woven into the back toward the right side to allow the installer or fabricator to assemble the breadths of carpet in the same direction.
MITER – An angle seam cut typically found in border use and on stairways. Miters can be ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ and the term does not imply 45′ although the most common.
MONKS CLOTH – A bulky woven cloth frequently used as a decorative backing to disguise back seams. Commonly applied to hand tufted rugs and broadloom.
MOTIFS – The outstanding ‘featured’ element, or theme, of the design often repeating though out the pattern.
MUSTY ODOR – With natural carpets this will occur when the materials are exposed to excessive moisture resulting in mold and/or mildew. Elimination of this odor requires the use of a fungicide to kill the mold.
NARROW WIDTH GOODS – Refers to materials with a 27″ or 36″ width.
The “ell”, equal to 27″, an early form of measure, for cloth, derived from the Flemish became the standard for early carpet weaving. With 27″ being ¾ of a yard (36″), hence the term, ¾ carpet.
OILY WIRES – Visible as a dark discoloration on the weft from oil or dirt on the wires. Generally undetectable until the material is placed in service. The discoloration will be isolated to the weft, not effecting the warps.
OILY YARN – Yarn that has been subjected to oil often from the spinning or twisting process. Visible as dark discoloration in the yarn and often undetectable until the material is placed in service. The discoloration will be isolated to the yarn leaving the wefts unaffected.
OPTICAL STREAKS – These streaks can appear light when looking down the pile and dark when looking into the pile, often only visible from one side and under certain lighting conditions. This effect can be reduced if the material can be fitted with nap spanning the shortest direction of the room. Most often, this effect is caused by slight variations in the bulk of the yarns visible as optical deviations. While this can be troubling to the end user, it is not considered a manufacturing defect. See Yarn Streaks.
OVERCAST STITCH – The most basic of sewing stitches. Through the materials, over the back and though again, and again. When returned in the opposite direction this becomes a “cross-stitch”.
PANELS – When several sections of narrow width product are joined or intended to be joined, each is known to as a panel.
PATTERN MATCH – The aligning of the pattern across the seams to maintain the consistent rhythm of the pattern as defined by the carpet itself.
PATTERN MIS-MATCH – Failing to achieve pattern match. While sometimes accepted with tufted materials, pattern mis-match of woven products is generally the result of employing under-skilled installation contractors.
PATTERN REPEAT – The distance traveled within the materials to arrive at the same location on the next pattern. Measured in length and width.
PATTERN STREAKS – Visible streaks found within some pattern carpet resulting from the geometric positioning of certain elements in relation to one another. Most often visible in the length this is not considered a defect, rather a characteristic of certain designs. Easily seen with large scale trellis patterns or patterns with large open fields. Looks horrible when used in corridors or long spaces.
PATTERN WIGGLE – The curving or “wiggling” of a pattern. On installed materials this is often due to an uneven stretch. The result of not using drop-lines during the stretching process.
PICK – The number of weft yarns crossing the warp in an inch. Used as a form of measure or as an indicator of quality; same as weft. Wilton & velvet term.
PITCH – The number of warp yarns crossing the weft in an inch. Used as a measure or indicator of quality. Correctly, pitch is stated in terms of 27″ materials, hence 8 warp yarns in an inch would translate into 216 pitch. The greater the number the better the quality. See Gauge.
POOR MENDS – Repairs to the surface of the carpet, generally at the mill, to replace missing or damaged yarns that were not done well. This is more common than it should be. See Burling.
POWER LOOM – Simply a loom run by power other than hand or foot.
PUCKER (‘S) – Uneven or wavy surface resulting from inconsistent tension during the hand sewing process or from improperly securing the carpet to the tackless strips. See Finished Seam and Scalloping.
QUARTER – Based on the ‘yard’ as the standard unit of measure for carpet width, the quarter represents nine inches. Three quarters being twenty-seven.
RAGGED OR FRAYED SEAMS – Most often the result of a trimming to close and snipping off the chain warps (a BIG no-no) which allows the woven product to ravel. See sealed seams
RAVELING – The dismantling of a woven product. Either intentional or non intentional. Often times incorrectly described as unraveling.
RIBBED WEAVING – A weaving technique achieved by varying the thickness ratio between the warp and weft. A thicker weft yields a horizontal rib while a thicker warp yields a vertical rib.
ROUND WIRE – This term generally refers to wilton or velvet carpets where the yarns remain uncut, as in looped, from being placed onto a “round wire”.
ROWS PER INCH – A term more specific to axminsters, being the number or rows per inch of length. (A.k.a.: RPI) See Pick
ROWS/WIRES – The lengthwise term for axminsters is rows, while the proper term for wiltons & velvets, is wires. Same meaning, different words.
SADDLE SEAM – Generally a narrow piece inserted between two breadths or drops of carpet. Not necessarily wrong and definitely not correct although sometimes acceptable in a doorway. Often justified as a repair technique.
SCALLOPING – The wavy or puckering around the perimeter of a room from improper stretching angles. Unlike tufted carpet, few woven materials allow for equal stretch in width & length.
SEALED SEAMS – All woven seams must be properly sealed to prevent raveling. Simply the presence of a sealer is not enough. Total encapsulation of the chain warps is essential. In addition, the use of synthetic materials in many woven products may require the use of non-latex type sealers. From contact cement to Elmer’s glue, they MUST be properly sealed.
SEAM FINISHING – The final steps in the seaming process where the surface yarns are rubbed vigorously to free and identify any trapped or loose yarns. Those yarns that remain trapped may require being lifted with a pick or sharp tool. The yarns that sprout are trimmed flush with the surface. On loop carpet this often requires adjusting pulled or low loops.
SEAM SLIPPAGE – The pulling apart of a sewn seam often, though not always, a result of improper or inadequate sewing techniques. With newly fitted carpet, improper sewing would be likely. However, after several years, other factors such as shrinkage from over wetting or water damage would be suspect. See Overcast.
SELVAGE EDGE – The finished edge of a woven carpet either tied or woven to prevent raveling. Sometimes removed for seaming, sometimes not, depending on many factors and seaming method employed. See Uneven Seams
SELVAGE DESCRIPTIONS – Loopy, rough, scalloped, slack, stringy, curled & wavy.
SET MATCH – Patterns that match straight across. Of particular relevance when working with narrow width goods. See Drop Match.
SHOOTING/SPROUTING – Yarns that, for various reasons, shoot or sprout above the face of the pile. These can be cut flush, unless a looped carpet and should never be pulled. Not a defect easily corrected. See Snags.
SHOT – Indicates the number of weft or filling yarns relative to each row.
Hence, a two shot has two wefts for each row. Three shot has three, an so on.
SHRINKAGE – Weather intentional, as with the ‘aqua-stretch’ or accidental from spills or improper cleaning, the amount of shrinkage may vary between the warp and weft. See Aqua-Stretch, Blocking & Seam Slippage.
SISAL – (Si-sul or Si-zul) Taken from the mature Agave plant, these long fibers, often between 4′ to 6′, are woven on beefed up wilton broadlooms, the finished product is considered ‘matting’ rather than carpet. Fitted with jacquard enables intricate patterns and textures such a diamonds and trellis design. This is a hard wearing fiber used most for its aesthetic qualities on floors & walls.
SIZING – A basic term for coatings applied to the back of woven products to enhance stiffness and reduce raveling. Certain qualities enhance the use of hot melt seam tape while others inhibit its use. Many resist latex, a complication for the unprepared installer. See Backcoat.
SLIPPAGE – Open spaces in the weave from slipping or sliding of either the warp or weft a result of either a loose weave or mismatched warp & filling.
SLUB – fat lump or thick blob in the yarn. While considered a defect with synthetic yarn the same would not always apply to wool. If undesired slubs can often be removed and yarn replaced through burling. (Aka:Slugs) Slubs are a desired characteristic in certain natural products such a coir, jute, seagrass and sisal.
SLUB YARN – Yarns that contain slubs or have irregular shape or diameters as a characteristic, by design or nature. Sisal & seagrass are excellent examples.
SNAG – A pull in the yarn from outside forces. On cut pile products these can be trimmed flush with the surface. With looped products, this is very common with multi frame wiltons, the snag can be pulled back to its intended shape.
SPECK – A small foreign object with the product. Commonly found are wood slivers, packing debris, string, etc., not a defect and easily removed.
SPOOL AXMINSTER – Unlike the more commonly known “gripper-axminster” the “spool-axminster” offers a greater number of colors and has a more pliable back. The face pattern is often visible through the back
SQUARE WEAVE – A woven product with an equal number of warps and wefts an essential element for certain designs like squares and circles.
STAY NAILING – An installation technique of holding a stretch in one area while stretching another. This is required to maintain and secure patterns for matching and to prevent pattern wiggle. See Pattern Wiggle & Blocking
STICKER – Seen as tight and loose places in the same warp yarns caused by restrictions to the warp ends from slubs or knots being caught during weaving.
STRIATIONS – Streaks, lines and/or variations that are indicative to many a yarn styles and weaving methods. Sometimes by design, sometimes not. While sometimes found to be objectionable, these are seldom considered a defect. See Yarn Line & Streaks.
STUFFERS/STUFFER YARNS – Extra yarn of various compositions running the warp below the yarn to enhance strength, thickness, bulk & weight.
SUPPLEMENTARY WEFT – A weft whose purpose is not functional or essential to the structural integrity of the product rather to create a certain texture or decorative effect.
TACKLESS STRIP – Relative to the installation of woven products, tackless strips should always be architectural (3 rows of pins) or doubled. In addition, a D or J pin strip should ALWAYS be used to prevent snags of the face yarn.
TEXTURE STREAKS – A line or streak as resulting from an individual yarn having a different bulk or texture than intended. Sometimes considered a defect streaks of any kind in woven products are controversial.
THERMOPLASTIC – While specific definitions exist, with regards to carpet it is the substance used in hot-melt seaming either through manufactured tapes or through manual application with a glue gun and scrim.
TURN & TACK – The earliest of installation methods where the ends of the carpet edge is rolled over, to prevent raveling, and secured with tacks. Still a viable installation technique with limited applications such as doorways and around hearths. Puckers and scalloping are characteristic of this technique.
UNDERLAY – padding.
UNEVEN SEAMS – A result of one side of the seam riding atop the other. Very common with hand sewn seams where a selvage-edge is left on one side and not the other. Often correctable through manipulation with a regular screw driver or flat tool. See Seam Finishing.
VELVET CARPET – Certainly the least complicated of the woven products and is most similar to a wilton although limited to one yarn per row. Because of the single yarn per row with the stuffer or warp yarns to the side, the face yarn is visible from the back, which further enhances the benefits of backcoating.
In the days of old, velvets with loop piles were known as tapestry. Velvets are available in cut, loop or combinations of the two.
WARP – A generic weaving term referring to all fibers running the length or perpendicular to the weft. Carpets generally have three types of warps, the yarn or the pile warp, the stuffer warp for durability, stiffness & bulk and the chain warps to hold them all together.
WARP YARNS – Yarns that run the length of the product.
WEAVER’S KNOT – Formally known as ‘ghiordes knot’ it is a flat knot that will no slip and is commonly used in weaving to join two threads. This knot is used on both warps & wefts and sometimes visible in carpets.
WEFT – A generic weaving term referring to all fibers running the width or perpendicular to the warp.
WIDTH OR WEFT – While two words with the same meaning ‘weft’ is a woven term. For while both woven and tufted products have widths, only a woven has wefts.
WILTON – Named for a town in England and by far the most versatile and modified loom in existence. By far this weave has the potential to produce the most beautiful durable of all carpet constructions. Its only limitation, which is one of its strengths, is the number of colors available in a single row. While disputed among installers, hand sewing is the only absolute certain method suitable for such a diverse weave.
WIRE – While technically part of the weaving process, wires are what sets the pile height with wiltons & velvets. When fitted with a knife edges, a cut pile is created. See Round Wire & Wires Per Inch.
WIRES PER INCH – Simply the number of wires used per inch of length in wilton and velvet carpets. With one wire per row this could be another description for the pick.
YARN SLUBS – Slubs found in the yarn. Sometimes difficult to identify they can appear as one or many.
YARN STREAKS – Dark or light streaks appearing in the yarn. Because the yarn for woven products is dyed before weaving these are often the result of uneven tension in the yarn and are not always considered defects. If this condition is objectionable, notice should be given before installation and replacement materials ordered. A.k.a. Yarn Lines.