Berber carpet combines economy, a comfortable feel, durability and ease of cleaning into one great choice for your living room or family room. Why do you think so many homes have it in their downstairs family room? Berber is one tough carpet that looks great day in and day out, that’s why!
History of Berber Carpet
Berber carpet is named after an indigenous tribe in Northwestern Africa, the Berber. The Berber tribe made fabric, out of wool and camel hair, and used it to cover the floors of their homes, as well as to wear as a cloak. The strong, tightly woven fabric has protected the tribe from the bitter cold nights for thousands of years.
In the present, Berber carpet refers to a specific type of weave, characterized by its distinctive flecked yarns and rugged loops. Originally these carpets were made of wool, limiting the spectrum of colors to white or light camel. In the present, nylon and olefin are used most often which greatly expands the number of available color choices.
How it’s Made
The basic principle behind Berber construction is the use of the rugged looped pile that runs in parallel lines. The distinctive patterns come from varying the loop sizes. The tribe hand-knotted their carpets long ago, while most are machine-made in this day and age.
While wool was the original material used in these carpets; nylon, olefin and even recycled materials are used today. The level of durability and stain resistance is largely determined by the materials used to produce the carpet.
There’s a very good reason why Berber has become so popular in recent years and is commonly found in many family rooms and especially basement rooms. As a matter of fact, there are several of them.
- Durability – the tightness of the loops and the overall density allow this carpet to stand up to regular vacuuming and heavy foot traffic
- Insulation – the varied-loop construction also provides natural insulation against temperature and sound
- Fights Allergens – wool Berber is non-toxic, so it doesn’t support bacteria growth
- Comfort – the loops allow nice air pockets to form that cushion each step
- Cost – Berber carpets are less costly than their high pile, plush counterparts
- Easy Cleaning – vacuum regularly and treat stains immediately and in most cases, you’ll have no trouble
This unique type of carpet weave offers many of the things most of us are looking for, however there are a few things to be mindful of as you make your carpet buying decision.
Berber is a great style of carpet for many reasons, but it’s not perfect. Here are some things you’ll need to know before you make a purchase.
- Stain Resistance – there are stain-resistant fibers available, but beware of oil based stains because they tend to bond with the fibers and never come out
- Selection – the large variety of price points and materials makes it harder to find the one that’s right for you; arm yourself with good research before you buy
- Dirt – if you vacuum regularly, you’ll limit the issue; however once dirt gets down into the dense fibers it’s much more difficult to get it out
- Loop Damage – Berbers can unravel if the loops become damaged from pet claws or other sharp objects
- Moisture – because manufacturers use latex to hold the loops together, moisture is dangerous and can lead to the carpet losing its stretch, however olefins are good candidates for steam cleaning and resist water well.
There is no perfect carpet out there, but with the right information in hand you can make a smart buying decision.
There are many price points for Berbers. Materials, loop height, and knots per square meter are the main factors in pricing. For example, top of the line versions made of wool and camel hair have upwards to 200,000 knots per square meter.
In your buying decision, consider the material, 2 ply vs. 4 ply, density of construction and warranties. Olefin is cost-effective, resists stains well, and is easy to clean. However, olefin is easier to crush so a larger loop olefin Berber would not be a good idea. Nylon is more resilient than olefin so it resists crushing and makes a better quality larger loop Berber. It’s also tends to look better than olefin and it’s just as stain resistant.
The lower end carpets will be characterized by olefin fibers, larger loops and no noticeable pattern while a good quality, mid-level Berber will be nylon, with small loops, and a distinct pattern.
We’ve made the point already but it bears repeating. Berber carpet is easy to care of, but there are regular things you should do to get the maximum life out of your flooring.
Vacuum it regularly, but do not use your brush or beater bar attachments. You don’t want to push the soil down into the carpet where it will be harder to get to. As we said earlier, olefins can be steam cleaned (professional high extraction steam cleaning only), but it’s a better idea to have a professional do a dry carpet cleaning on nylon and wool.
Stains should be handled like any other carpet. Get to them quickly and blot them to avoid spreading or grinding them into the fibers. Nylon and wool Berbers help because of their stain resistance. Oils are the enemy of all Berbers. Once oils are absorbed into the fibers, they don’t come out.
Finally, keep clawed pets away from Berber carpet. They can cause the rug to unravel if they snag one of the loops. Any sharp object or curious children who like to take apart things should be kept away from Berber, as well, for the same reason.
The Final Analysis
Berber carpet is certainly not for everyone. However, it’s unparalleled for its durability and strength, easy to care for, and cost-effective compared to plush carpets. The Berber tribe of Northern Africa knew what it was doing when it hand-knotted wool into flooring and cloaks. This great idea may never have become popular as a carpet if it weren’t for the commercial grade, tightly looped, and highly durable carpets that preceded it.
Thank goodness it is.