Berber Carpet

Berber Carpet Fibers: Wool, Nylon and Olefin

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Berber carpet is produced in several types of fiber, each with its own unique qualities. The most common fibers used for Berber carpet are olefin and nylon.

Types of Carpet Fiber

Olefin is a synthetic polypropylene material. Despite being the cheapest fiber, Olefin is made using petrochemicals and is considered the least sustainable option for carpet fiber. Olefin is generally strong, colorfast and stain resistant, making it a popular choice for Berber carpet. However, the environmental impact of Olefin (both inside your home and during the manufacturing process) has caused considerable debate among consumers and installers as to its use.

Another option is nylon fiber. Nylon fiber is also synthetic and has many of the same properties as Olefin, such as durability and stain resistance. Nylon tends to hold up well under daily use and may become much less “dingy” than its Olefin counterparts. Additionally, Nylon 6 is recyclable and can be made into new raw material for use in carpets. Nylon fiber is good choice for price, durability and sustainability. Most large manufactureres offer recycling programs for old nylon carpets, including the likes of Shaw and Mohawk.

Wool Carpet

The original Berber carpets from Morocco were made of natural fibers, such as wool. Wool fiber is perhaps the most luxerious and sustainable of all carpet fibers, though it comes at no small cost. Wool is certainly the costliest carpet fiber in terms of price, but is perhaps the best long term investment. Wool is a renewable resource and naturally biodegradable, thus leaving a light footprint on the planet. More importantly for your carpet, wool is highly durable, yet retains a soft and flexible feel. It is also naturally fire resistant and insulating (it certainly keeps sheep warm!). Wool is a great choice for carpet, and particularly Berber, if you can afford it.

Natural Wool Berber

Natural Wool Berber

Merida Lush Loop

Merida Lush Loop

Wool also resists dirt by natural, though it requires regular vacuuming to keep it clean. As with all carpets, a consistent cleaning and maintenance schedule is the key to extending the life of your carpet. When treating wool for stains, be particularly careful about the products you choose. Many household cleaning products contain bleaches that will harm the wool. Clean wool with a gentle, neutral detergent and be sure to dry it thoroughly.

Merida is one company that makes beautiful carpet and area rugs from all natural fibers, including wool. Merida produces carpets that are similar to a Berber, though slightly less structured, under the name “Loop.” These are lovely texured Berber carpets in stylish colors and shapes. Check with your local carpet dealers to find out if they carry wool carpets or natural fiber carpets.

5 Reasons to Choose Berber Carpet

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1. Durability.

berber_closeupBerber carpet is one of the most popular types of carpeting for the home. Known for its durability and style, the textured looped pile of Berber carpets are both attractive and functional. Dirt and stains are easily hidden on the multi-colored fibers. The original Berber carpets of Morocco were used in rural households for rugged everyday use and this weaving tradition is still evident of the modern Western Berber carpets of today.

2. Price

Berber carpet can economically priced in comparison to other styles of carpet. Berber carpet has a range of prices, from economical low-end options ($2-$6/square foot), to expensive carpets made of wool (or other higher end fibers) upwards of $10/square foot. For the durability and timeless style, Berber carpet gets you a lot of bang for the buck.

3. Timeless Style

People often think of Berber carpets as the economical choice for offices and schools. However, today Berber carpets are produced in a range of stylish colors and finishes. I’m particularly fond of the Flor tiles, which come in several Berber carpet styles and colors. These tiles look great and are easy to install and maintain for home use. The classic look of Berber carpet also keeps it from becoming outdated too quickly. Check out the photo gallery of carpets for design ideas.

4. Maintenance

In general, Berber is fairly easy to maintain with regular vacuuming. While dust and particles can get stuck in the carpets dense loops, a regular cleaning schedule will minimize ground-in dirt. In high traffic areas, Berber carpets require daily vacuuming — but that’s all. In th case of stains and spills, try to treat the area as quickly as possible with a homemade water/soap solution or with a gentle carpet cleaner (which you’ve pre-tested). In addition, it is always smart to give your carpet a professional cleaning once every 12-18 months. This will ensure that your Berber lasts. For more details on cleaning, check the maintenance guide.

5. Availability

Berber is widely available from a variety of sources. The popularity of Berber carpet means that you can purchase it from several major national retailers including DIY outlets Home Depot and Lowe’s, as well as national carpet retailers like Carpet One and Empire Today. Berber carpets are also manufactured by all of the major carpet brands. With such availabilty and and variety of products, it’s easy to find the price and the style that fits your needs. For more information about specific manufacturers and the products they offer, check the purchasing guide.

Photo Gallery of Berber Carpets

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Here is a collection of photos of Berber carpets. You can see a variety of installation solutions, colors and textures.

This Berber carpet has a diamond pattern, for a more formal effect.

Another textured Berber.

Another textured Berber.

This gray Berber carpet looks very modern.

This gray Berber carpet looks very modern.

Berber carpet with flecks of green.

Warm toned Berber carpet in a child's room.

Basic beige Berber.

A darker more textured Berber carpet.

Berber carpet tiles create a fun pattern.

Berber carpet tiles create a fun pattern.

Facts and Myths: Berber Carpets and Allergies

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In recent years there has been much research and debate about how the use of carpets and rugs contributes to allergies and asthma. On one side, some argue that carpets contribute to poor air quality by trapping dust an allergens in a room.  On the other hand, carpets may actually help contain allergens, preventing them from floating through the air.  Both sides make a compelling case, but what is should you beleive?

“Could Your Rug Make You Sick?”

This is the title of an article recently published in Health magazine (Mar2009, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p104-104).  Health makes the claim that carpets can and do contribute to indoor allergies. According to Jonathan Bernstein, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati in the Division of Immunology and Allergy, “floor coverings are a major reservoir for indoor and outdoor allergens, including animal dander and dust mites.” The article continues by outlining various ways to reduce the allergy inducing qualities of carpets by:

Myth or Reality?

In a report titled “Carpet, Asthma and Allergies – Myth or Reality,” noted toxologist Dr. Mitchell Saueroff, makes a comparative analysis of several recent studies about carpets and allergens. He concludes that carpets do not cause asthma and do not increase the instance or severity of allergies. He also notes that “multiple studies have reported fewer allergy and asthma symptoms associated with carpet.” Another important study was updated by the World Health organization and the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute which also supports this claim by noting that there is no evidence to suggest that replacing carpet with a hard surface had any health benefits.

The Carpet and Rug Institute claims that carpets actually improve air quality by containing particles and allergens in the floor. For example, Berber carpet, with its looped pile, keeps dust close to the floor, even when walked on.  However, it is then essential to vacuum regularly with a CRI-approved vacuum to further contain the particles.

Are VOC’s the Culprit?

Most Carpets (and carpet backings) are made with a variety of chemicals and even hazardous materials. These chemicals, or VOC’s, are emitted from the carpet after installation. These emissions are evident in a foul smell, but often they aren’t evident at all. It is possible that the VOC’s contribute to various respiratory problems. However, some studies do show that carpet VOC’s are quickly emitted and after about 2 weeks, the chemicals will be nearly gone. It is still smart to take certain precautions, such as requesting carpets and installation products with low VOC’s. Once installed, keep the room well ventilated to allow the gases to escape the room.

Is Berber Carpet Safe?

The short answer is yes, but with precautions. The carpet industry wants to make sure that consumers continue purchasing carpets, while the health care community continues to search for causes of increased occurrence of asthma and allergies.

Carpets should be considered on an individual basis, taking into consideration the health concerns and sensitivities of each individual. One person may find that hard surface floors indeed stir up the dust, while another may find the trapped particles in carpets aggravate their allergies.

In general, Berber carpet may be a good option, as the trapped allergens could remain closer to floor. To keep your indoor air quality good, you should clean and vacuum any floor covering on a regular basis.

More Information

In writing this article, I researched several consumer magazines, the Carpet and Rug Institute and found several studies on the subject as well. After conducting the initial research, I then ran across this great article from the Carpetology blog. Carpetology outlines similar myths and facts as uncovered here, plus includes more links and articles for further information. While carpetology doesn’t specifically address Berber carpet, you can find a host of useful information about carpets and allergies.

Berber Carpet Tiles

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When I was searching for carpet for my living room, I had very few expectations. Mainly, I was looking for a carpet that was light in color (to offset my dark furniture) and for a carpet that wasn’t too expensive. I had used carpet tiles in the past and thought I would use that as a starting point.

The beautifully textured Twill Ride in vanilla/hazelnut.

The beautifully textured Twill Ride in vanilla/hazelnut.

I immediately went to my favorite carpet tile retailer, FLOR and began my quest for the perfect carpet. What I found was an amazing carpet tile called Twill Ride, which, it turns out, resembles a Berber carpet. It is this carpet tile that started my love of Berber carpets for home use. Read more