Loop Pile Carpets
A contemporary choice
No other class of carpet has quite caught the public's imagination as did berber-loop when it was first introduced in the early nineteen-seventies. Gaskell's Rusticana was the first of the breed to be freely available, and its large open loop style was soon copied by other manufacturers when rustic furnishing schemes became fashionable. Those early berber loop carpets were of reasonably high quality, and although some were prone to surface felting, most wore well. As the demand increased, however, and less scrupulous manufacturers sought for a place in this burgeoning market, the quality dropped dramatically. Enormous quantities of cheap berber-loop carpet were imported from Europe, and much of this material deteriorated very quickly indeed. These ersatz carpets, often boasting a high percentage of very poor quality wool, very soon gave all berber loop carpets a bad reputation. Sales soon dropped to a fraction of their previous levels. Within a year, the opportunist manufacturers were seeking other fields to conquer, and had dropped their berber-loop ranges. By 1985 it was difficult to find any berber loop carpets at all.
It was a great pity that the worst of the berber-loop carpets should have given the whole of this market such a bad reputation, because when they are properly specified and well made they have much to offer. A low loop pile is very much more resistant to crushing than a cut pile, and provided that good quality wool (and perhaps a little synthetic yarn) is used for the pile, they provide excellent performance at a very modest price.
It is better to avoid low price berber loops with a high percentage of wool in the pile. Such wool is invariably of short staple length, and often comprises a majority of wool that has been reconstituted from waste woollen goods. Such carpets are suitable for only the lightest use in occasional bedrooms. Carpets constructed from 50% wool and 50% synthetic are usually a safer buy. Inexpensive berber loops can be made with as little as 5% wool which is incorporated as a rustic slub effect. This wears quite well, but often, in the areas of greatest use, the slub itself wears away very quickly, leaving a bald 'rabbit run' effect.
It is more important to have a proper secondary back on loop pile carpet than it is with any other type of carpet. Because the loops can be snagged by nails in shoes or the forceful progress of little Henry's Dinky toys, it is all too easy to pull up a whole row of tufts like a laddered lady's stocking. Cut pile carpet tufts are independent from each other, whereas the tufts in a loop pile carpet the tufts are joined both above and below the primary backing layer. It follows that the security of the tuft behind the primary backing is essential in the prevention of 'runs'. Foam backing adds very little to the strength of the tuft bonding, and should be avoided. It may be cheap, but it can also be nasty.
Most good quality loop piles have very little nap. This is far less prone to crushing, and it also much reduces the tendency of rugs to creep. On stairs, the nap MUST flow down: a rule often ignored, to the detriment of the carpet's wearing properties.
By their very nature, berber loop carpets tend to vary from batch to batch. The mixing of the natural fibres is not particularly scientific, and the finished product can sometimes differ slightly from the shop sample.