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Glossary of Flooring Terms

Attached Cushion

A cushioning material, such as foam, rubber, urethane, PVC, etc. adhered to the back side of a carpet to provide additional dimensional stability, thickness and padding.

Average Pile Yarn Weight

Mass per unit area of the pile yarn including buried portions of the pile yarn. In the U.S., it is usually expressed as ounces per square yard.


Fabrics and yarns that make up the back of the carpet as opposed to the carpet pile or face. In tufted carpet:

• Primary backing - A woven or non-woven fabric in which the yarn is inserted by the tufting needles.
• Secondary backing - Fabric laminated to the back of the carpet to reinforce and increase dimensional stability.

In woven carpet, the backing is the "construction yarns" which are interwoven with the face yarn.


Loop-pile carpet tufted with thick yarn, such as wool, nylon or olefin. Often having random specks of color in contrast to a base hue, this floor covering has a full, comfortable feel, while maintaining an informal, casual look. Currently, this term has expanded to describe many level or multi-level loop carpet styles.


A band or strip sewn over a carpet edge to protect, strengthen or decorate the edge.


A term used to denote carpet produced in widths wider than 6 feet. Broadloom is usually 12 feet wide, but may also be 13'6" and 15 feet wide.

Bulked Continuous Filament (BCF)

Continuous strands of synthetic fiber formed into yarn bundles of a given number of filaments and texturized to increase bulk and cover. Texturizing changes the straight filaments into kinked or curled configurations.

Ceramic Tile

Flat shapes made of unglazed or glazed fired clay. Used for floors by setting in mortar or cement in a variety of patterns. Ceramic tile is strong, durable and easy to clean.


The manufacturing method (i.e. tufted, woven) and the final arrangement of fiber and backing materials as stated in its specification.

Cork Flooring

A natural resilient floor covering. Made from the bark of cork oak trees, cork flooring is available in both tiles and sheets. It is available in many different colors, including natural and can also be found reinforced with resins or vinyl.


Any kind of material placed under carpet to provide softness and adequate support when it is walked upon. Also referred to as "padding" or "underlay," although "cushion" is the preferred term. Cushion under most residential carpet should be a thickness no greater than 7/16".

Cut Pile

A carpet fabric in which the face is composed of cut ends of pile yarn.

Cut and Loop Pile

A carpet fabric in which the face is composed of a combination of cut ends of pile yarns and loops.


Refers to the amount of pile yarn in the carpet and the closeness of the tufts. In general, the denser the pile, the better the performance.

Dimensional Stability

The ability of the carpet to retain its original size and shape, e.g. a secondary backing adds dimensional stability to carpet.

Direct Glue-Down

An installation method whereby the carpet is adhered to the floor.

Double Glue-Down

An installation method whereby the carpet cushion is first adhered to the floor with an adhesive, and the carpet is then glued to the cushion.

Engineered Hardwood Floors

Constructed from several thin sheets of wood (called plies) that are laminated together to form one plank.


A single continuous strand of natural or synthetic fiber.


Appearance on carpet surface of loose fiber fragments left during manufacture; not a defect, but a characteristic that disappears after carpet use and vacuuming. Sometimes called "fuzzing" or "shedding."


Pronounced "free-zay," this tightly twisted yarn gives carpet a rough, nubby appearance.


Hairy effect on fabric surface caused by fibers slipping out of the yarn with wear or wet cleaning.


The distance between two needle points expressed in fractions of an inch. Applies to both knitting and tufting.

Glazed Tile

Fired clay tiles that are then coated with a matte or glossy sealant. Glazed tiles absorb less moisture.

Heat Setting

The process that sets the twist by heat or steam, enabling yarns to hold their twist over time. Important in cut pile carpet. Most nylon, olefin and polyester cut pile carpets are heat-set.

Indoor/Outdoor Carpet

Carpet made of super-resilient fibers (example: olefin or polyester) in order to withstand outdoor use.

Laminate Flooring

Dense fiberboard core with a paper pattern layer sealed under high pressure with a plastic-like substance. Sold as planks and panels in which the paper layer depicts a natural flooring such as wood or stone.

Level Loop

A carpet construction in which the yarn on the face of the carpet forms a loop with both ends anchored into the carpet back. The pile loops are of substantially the same height and uncut, making a smooth, level surface.


First resilient floor made of linseed oil, gums, cork or wood dust and pigments. Widely used in the 1950's and greatly admired for the variety of patterns and colors, linoleum was replaced with vinyl flooring and has passed into history. It is no longer available in the United States.

Loop Pile

Carpet style having a pile surface consisting of uncut loops. May be woven or tufted. Also called "round wire" in woven carpet terminology.


Brightness or sheen of fibers, yarns, carpet or fabrics.


Elegant polished stone flooring usually sold as tiles. Marble is "floated" in a cement underlayment to form a smooth glossy surface.

Multi-level Loop Carpet

Carpet with two or three levels forming a random sculptural surface.

Oriental Rug

Hand-woven or hand knotted rugs traditionally made in the Middle or Far East. Generally, the more knots per square inch the more precious the carpet.

Parquet Floors

Wood flooring, usually in the form of tiles that is laid to create a pattern.

Pickled Floors

Rustic looking wood flooring that consists of rubbed white paint over a finished wood floor.


The visible surface of carpet consisting of yarn tufts in loop and/or cut configuration. Sometimes called "face" or "nap".


A condition of the carpet face (which may occur from heavy traffic) in which fibers from different tufts become entangled with one another, forming hard masses of fibers and tangled tufts. Pills may be cut off with scissors.

Plank Flooring

Wood flooring made of long boards more than 3-inches wide.


Luxuriously smooth-textured carpet surface in which individual tufts are only minimally visible and the overall visual effect is that of a single level of yarn ends. This finish is normally achieved only on cut-pile carpet produced from non-heat-set singles spun yarns by brushing and shearing. Sometimes called "velvet-plush."


1. A single-end component in a plied yarn. 2. The number that tells how many single ends have been ply-twisted together to form a plied yarn, e.g. two-ply or three-ply.

Quarry Tile

Glazed or unglazed ceramic tile made of natural clay and shale using an extrusion process. Usually quarry tile is in natural terracotta.

Random Sheared Carpet

Created by lightly cutting high-low loop carpet so that only the higher loops are cut. Random shearing produces a chance cut and loop pattern.


A small piece of carpet from the end of a roll of carpet.


Ability of carpet pile or cushion to recover original appearance and thickness after being subjected to compressive forces or crushing under traffic.

Resilient Floor

Flooring made by combining a plastic material with filler and pigments, then pressed into tiles or sheets. If a backing material is used, the plastic sheet is pressed onto the backing. Types include solid vinyl, backed or cushioned vinyl, rubber, cork, and linoleum.


A cut-pile carpet texture with twisted yarns in a relatively dense, erect configuration. The effect is well-defined tuft tips.

Sculptured Carpet

Any carpet pattern formed from high and low pile areas, such as high-low loop or cut-and-loop.


In a carpet installation, the line formed by joining the edge of two pieces of carpet by the use of various seaming tapes, hand sewing or other techniques.

Seam Sealing

Procedure of coating the trimmed edges of two carpet breadths to be joined with a continuous bead of adhesive in order to prevent fraying and raveling at the seam.


A method of finishing edges of area rugs by use of heavy, colored yarn sewn around the edges in a close, overcast stitch.


A change in the appearance of a carpet due to localized distortions in the orientation of the fibers, tufts or loops. Shading is not a change in color or hue, but a difference in light reflection.


Originally made of vegetable fibers, the carpet industry has recently captured the look of natural sisal and jute with the gentler, more comfortable synthetic alternatives. Wool and synthetic alternatives are almost worry-free and offer a variety of interesting textures, patterns and prints.


A naturally laminated stone pieces or tiles that are set in mortar or cement resulting in a interesting natural pattern.

Soil Retardant

A chemical finish applied to fibers or a carpet surface that inhibits attachment of soil.

Solid Wood Floors

One solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides and come in either prefinished or unfinished styles.


Protrusion of individual tuft or yarn ends about the pile surface. May be clipped with scissors.


Short lengths of fiber that may be converted into spun yarns by textile yarn spinning processes. These spun yarns are also called "staple" yarns. For carpet yarns spun on the common, modified worsted systems, most staple is six to eight inches long. Staple fiber may also be converted directly into nonwoven fabrics, such as needle punched carpet.


Stitches per inch. Number of yarn tufts per running inch of a single tuft row in tufted carpet.


Installation procedure for installing carpet over separate cushion using a tackless strip; properly performed with a power-stretcher.

Strip Flooring

The most popular wood flooring, it is made of long, narrow -- about 3 inches wide -- tongue-and-groove boards that are end-matched. Strip flooring wider than 3 inches is referred to as plank flooring.

Tackless Strip

Wood or metal strips fastened to the floor near the walls of a room containing either two or three rows of pins angled toward the walls on which the carpet backing is stretched and secured in a stretch-in installation.


A multicolored stone floor made of small pieces of stone embedded in cement. The floor is then polished to a high shine.

Tuft Bind

Force required to pull a tuft from the carpet.


Carpet manufactured by the insertion of tufts of yarn through a carpet-backing fabric, creating a pile surface of cut and/or loop ends.


The winding of the yarn around itself. Should be neat and well-defined. A tighter twist provides enhanced durability.


Carpet cushion under rugs.

Vinyl Solid Flooring

This smooth surfaced plastic floor is a mixture of vinyl resins, fillers, and stabilizers with one color added. Produced in either square tiles or sheet goods.


Carpet produced on a weaving loom in which the lengthwise yarns and widthwise yarns are interlaced to form the fabric, including the face and the backing.

Yarn Ply

The number of single yarns twisted together to form a plied yarn.
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