When it comes to finding the right carpet for your home, research is essential. Carpets are a huge investment, and it is, therefore, crucial you take the time to ensure you’re 100% happy with the choice you make.
When beginning to investigate which types of carpet may be suitable for your needs, it’s inevitable that you see recommendations for “Berber” carpeting. Given the term “Berber” is unusual, the name probably stands out. Initially, you may think that Berber is a brand name, but as your research continues, you’ll discover that it is, in fact, a type of carpet.
This, however, is just the first important realization to consider when considering Berber carpet for your home. These carpets are highly individual and include characteristics that are unique to Berber carpet. If you have seen prices or styles of Berber carpet that you find tempting, it’s well worth finding out more about the construction, management, and pros and cons of Berber carpeting – so you can make an informed decision when choosing the next carpet for your home.
What Is Berber Carpet?
We’ve already established that Berber is not a brand name, but is, instead, a type of carpet. Numerous brands offer Berber-style carpet options, so if you choose this kind of carpet for your home, you’ll have no shortage of places to buy from.
Firstly, let’s explain the term “Berber”. This was the name of an African tribe, who were known for their ability to create incredibly intricate woven textile patterns. These patterns incorporated the natural color differences in a sheep’s coat into the pattern, which produced a famous “flecked” appearance. As well as the flecked appearance, the Berbers also used a specific technique of producing a carpet using a system of loops and knots.
To explain what distinguishes the Berber carpet from standard carpets, we need to discuss what a looped carpet – by far the most common type of carpet available today – actually is. Loop carpets are created from yarn, which is sewn into the carpet backing. With conventional carpets, the yarn is not cut. This produces the loop pile carpet that most of us will be highly familiar with.
Berber carpet, however, uses a highly distinctive knotting technique that derives from the African tribe. This technique produces a carpet that is textured in both look and feel. In the most traditional form of a Berber carpet, you can expect:
- A textured feel and appearance due to the knot technique used to make the carpet
- A carpet of natural colors (such as white, light brown, gray) with a distinctive flecked appearance
However, it is worth noting that the natural colors that Berber carpet has always been synonymous with are not the only option available in the modern world – but we’ll discuss this in depth later on.
What is Berber carpet made of?
- Nylon. Arguably the most popular type of Berber carpet fiber currently available, nylon fiber Berber carpets are known for their durability. They cannot be crushed, which ensures the carpet will maintain its aesthetic appeal for long. Nylon fiber Berber carpet is among the most affordable types of Berber carpet and is well worth considering for the affordability factor alone.
- Wool. The traditional material used for the construction of Berber carpet and, if you don’t mind the cost, arguably the best. Wool fibers are soft, resistant to wear and tear, are hypoallergenic, can resist liquids, and are non-toxic. That’s a huge amount of upsides so, inevitably, we must discuss the downside: the cost. If you wish to opt for wool Berber carpet, then you may find yourself having to pay double what you would pay for a nylon Berber carpet.
- PET. These polyester fibers are a good budget option for areas where the quality and feel of the carpet is not particularly important (for example, in basements). However, they can be incredibly difficult to keep clean, so you are not going to want to risk using them in the main areas of your home. PET fibers are also prone to snagging and crushing, so use them as an affordable option for lesser-seen areas, but look to other fibers for the rest of your home.
- PTT / Triexta. Triexta fibers are durable, can resist stains, and are more comfortable to walk on than nylon. Triexta is also relatively affordable, which makes it a viable option for many family homes. However, it is worth noting that while Triextra appears to easily insert itself beneath wool as the best (but still affordable) choice for Berber carpet fibers, it is worth remembering that Triextra is relatively new. This means its longevity and durability has not been tested by hundreds of thousands of people to create a reliable consensus – something that has happened with the more established fiber types.
- Blends. As with most materials, Berber carpet does not necessarily have to only be made from a single fiber type. A number of blends are available, with the most popular being a wool/nylon mix. The benefits to the wool/nylon mix are obvious: the carpet is more comfortable than a full-nylon option, but is not as expensive as a full-wool option. These blends are well worth considering when looking for the right Berber carpet for your home.
How much does a Berber carpet cost?
We touched a little on cost in the section above because, ultimately, the cost of a Berber carpet is entirely dependant on the fibers that have been used to make the carpet. PET fiber Berber carpet is incredibly inexpensive; you can expect to pay just $1 – 2 per square foot of carpet. On the other end of the equation, wool is around $8 – 10 dollars per square foot.
It’s important to note that the above prices are just estimates, and prices fluctuate between brands, sale seasons, and factors such as the base cost of materials.
It is also worth noting that Berber carpet often compares favorably to other forms of carpet in terms of cost. As a genuine rule, it can be concluded that Berber carpet is a relatively cost-efficient option, with fibers such as nylon and PET really helping to reduce the overall price you will pay.
How long will a Berber carpet last?
Using carpet in your home is a wonderful choice that offers high levels of comfort and luxury. However, the downside is that carpet has a tendency to degrade at a much faster rate than other forms of flooring. This is one of the main reason carpet has somewhat fallen behind options such as laminate and real wood flooring; people believe that these forms of flooring will last longer than a carpet.
Many people believe that Berber carpet is more durable than other carpet types, which has helped it retain a level of popularity other carpet types have been unable to match. There is some truth to the belief that Berber carpet is more durable than other carpet types but, ultimately, the deciding factor is the fibers used. A PET fiber Berber carpet cannot be considered durable; wool and nylon options tend to last for longer, and potentially longer than other forms of carpet, but individual household use and maintenance will always be the deciding factor when it comes to durability.
Ultimately, when it comes to assessing Berber, durability should not be a deciding factor. Berber carpet can be more durable than other types of carpet, but not significantly enough to be worth choosing it for this reason alone. There are simply too many variables, such as the fibers used, to be able to say Berber will always be more durable than other forms of carpet.
There are, however, plenty of other reasons why you may want to consider Berber carpet for your home…
For more information about cleaning Berber carpets to make them last longer, click here.
What are the advantages of a Berber carpet?
- Relatively low cost. When compared to other carpet types, Berber carpet tends to be one of the more affordable options. Additionally, some Berber fiber options – namely PET – are incredibly affordable, provided the tendency towards excessive wear and tear is not an issue.
- Easy to live with. The flecked appearance of Berber carpet makes it very easy to live with, as this tends to hide mess and debris that may otherwise be highly conspicuous on a non-flicked carpet.
- Easy to clean. Due to the construction methods used for Berber carpet, it is relatively stain-resistant and easy to clean. Liquids, for example, are more likely to remain on the surface of the carpet rather than soaking in.
- Comfortable feel. The loops of a Berber carpet help to produce a comfortable, almost bouncy feeling underfoot, which makes this type of carpet very pleasant to live with.
What are the disadvantages of a Berber carpet?
- Potential for snags. The loops of a Berber carpet offer many advantages, but they can also cause a number of issues. The most common problem is the potential for snags. It’s all-too-easy for something to get caught inside the loop and then pull the loop-free. It is, therefore, necessary to treat Berber carpet with care and avoid any behaviors that may lead to loops being dislodged; for example, it is not recommended to try and drag furniture across a Berber carpet.
- One snagged loop can ruin the whole carpet. If you do snag a loop of your Berber carpet, this needs to be fixed immediately. While unlikely, it is theoretically possible for a single snag to lead to the entire construction unraveling. This nightmare scenario can be avoided by, as mentioned above, always lifting rather than dragging furniture across the surface of the carpet.
- Difficult to clean. It’s unlikely that a Berber carpet will stain, but if it does, cleaning the stain can be notoriously difficult. You will usually need to use expensive cleaning options such as dry solvents to remedy any staining. However, this issue is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Berber carpet is difficult to stain in the first instance, so this is hopefully not an issue you will have to deal with.
- Potential for “burns”. While a Berber carpet will not catch fire, it can be “burned” – which usually displays as discoloration – if furniture is dragged across it. As mentioned above, Berber carpet needs to be treated with care to ensure it stays looking its best for as long as possible.
Can Berber carpets be different colors?
We mentioned above that the traditional Berber carpets, as made by the African tribe of the same name, produced carpet that was “natural” in color. Natural-colored Berber carpet remains highly popular, but natural is not the only choice for Berber carpet.
Nowadays, Berber carpet can be successfully dyed to almost any color in the spectrum. Reds and darker blues are popular color choices for modern Berber carpet, though brighter colors are more difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, it is important to note that Berber carpet is not necessarily natural-only in terms of colors – you do have more choice if you’d prefer to opt for something a little outside the norm.
Furthermore, the distinctive flecked appearance of a Berber carpet is still evident even when the fibers have been dyed. Given the flecks – and their ability to disguise staining – is one of the key reasons for the popularity of Berber carpet, this is undoubtedly good news.
Should you choose a Berber carpet if you have a cat?
Cats have a tendency to like to scratch Berber carpet, which can cause issues with snagging. However, by providing alternative scratching options – such as scratching posts – and potentially using pheromone therapies such as Feliway, this issue can usually be avoided.
The top five tips for living with a Berber carpet
If you have read through the above and decided a Berber carpet is a right choice for you, then you’ll need to keep the following care tips in mind…
- Avoid wearing outdoors shoes in your home if you have a Berber carpet, as this can increase the likelihood of snagging.
- Do not drag furniture across the carpet; always lift it instead.
- Act immediately in the event of a spill on the carpet – this should allow you to completely avoid any staining at all.
- If you notice snagged loops in your carpet, have it repaired as quickly as possible.
- If you have cats, provide a scratching post or other materials to dissuade your furry friend from using the carpet as a scratching mat.
A Berber carpet can be a wonderful addition to your home, with a timeless elegance and usability that is impossible to deny. Enjoy!