Feisty Frieze

By Steve Simonson

Shopping for carpet has never been easy. Most people consider it more of a chore than a fun, stimulating experience. Some people, mostly men, have to be pulled kicking and screaming to the iFLOOR.com site to look at carpet.

I don’t mean to brag, but I can make your next carpet purchase less painful. First, though, you need to read Steve’s Stages of Floor Shopping to give you an overview on the process. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you read that article.

Okay, now that you know you’re not in this alone, let’s focus on frieze carpet, which is one of the most popular floor coverings today. Seldom has carpet fashion and design blended so beautifully with practicality and function. Frieze carpeting offers all the benefits without the compromise.

You’d hate to pick out a color you love, and then find out it’s available only in builder-grade; so, make the carpet’s durability a priority. You can think about color, price, look and texture later.

The following points are important to consider when evaluating durability:

1. Twist 75%
2. Fiber Type 15%
3. Density 10%

1- TWIST – This style of carpet has a prominent spiral shape. Imagine one straight yarn between your thumb and index finger twisted six or seven times and you’ll get the idea.

Manufacturers use a sophisticated heat method to twist the yarn into its permanent shape. Fibers can have up to seven twists per yarn. The more twists the better. The end-result is a rustic knotted look, is very fashionable today.

2 – FIBER TYPE – Frieze carpets are usually made with high-quality nylon yarn. Nylon is one of the most widely used fiber types for residential wall-to-wall carpets. Most of the carpets I recommend are made of Dupont Stainmaster fibers. Dupont makes the fibers, the carpet mill buys it and then produces the carpet. Dupont has a variety of sub-brands in its Stainmaster Collection, but stay with the top-quality lines such as Tactesse, Masterlife, Xtralife and Grand Luxura. There are differences between these yarns – but that’s another subject.

3 – DENSITY – It’s interesting that many people use the density of the carpet as their primary gauge of quality. When I refer to density I’m talking about the number of stitches per inch used to tuft the carpet. Shoppers often identify density by turning over the corner of the carpet. They look at it and say: “Yep, there’s a lot of carpet here – it must be good.”

Just as you can find yourself too full from that turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, carpeting can be too dense. The denser a carpet, the harder it feels because the fibers are compacted. The fibers are meant to wear on their sides rather than the tops, therefore it is good to allow for some “wiggle” room. If the frieze yarn actually wore on the tip of the fiber, it would start to unravel and show obvious traffic patterns. So, when selecting a frieze let density take a backseat. (I am speaking specifically to my “engineering husbands” audience.)

There IS a place for density in a carpet discussion, but it should be addressed near the end of the selection process.

Many different companies make “feisty friezes”, as I like to call them. Let’s focus on several manufacturers and why their carpets stand out from the rest.

Gulistan is one of the top manufacturers of frieze carpets. It was a trendsetter early on with innovative styles, an impressive range of colors and easy care. Although Gulistan is a small manufacturer in the carpet world, it has definitely carved out a niche, especially with its high-quality nylon frieze.

Laura Ashley is a name synonymous with an elegant English country look that continues to be a global sensation. The company that brought us home décor, bed linens, paint, wallpaper, and upholstery fabric, has now launched a line of carpeting and rugs. Is anyone surprised?

Beaulieu Industries licensed the Ashley name and premiered two dozen products, including a very cool frieze carpet. A separate design department was established to produce what will undoubtedly be a highly successful line of carpeting. If you have an active household, and need a durable product, yet don’t want to sacrifice style and beauty, frieze carpeting may be just what you’ve been looking for. Now wasn’t that easy?

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The material set forth here is solely my opinion. I am not paid to endorse products. I offer my recommendations online because customers deserve to have insider knowledge before they make significant investments.