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Building a Home

How to Choose Cut Pile vs. Loop Pile Carpet

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written by:

Carrie Barker


Quick question … do you know the difference between cut pile and loop pile carpet?

If you answered NO, you are NOT alone! I couldn’t have told you the difference before I built my own home. I think we can all identify the carpet style we like (by pointing at it) … but I want YOU to be able to describe what you want in ‘carpet language’ when you talk to your flooring retailer.

By the end of this post, you’ll sound (and feel) like a genius because you’ll know exactly what the carpet vendor is talking about when she asks, ‘are you looking at a cut pile or a loop pile?’  

You will be armed with enough information to confidently choose cut pile vs. loop pile carpet for your home. I’ll also define the most common carpet types you’ll hear when shopping for carpet (Frieze, Berber, Saxony, and Sisal).

how to choose cut pile vs. loop pile carpet pin

There are two major carpet styles: cut pile and loop pile. There is also a combination cut and loop pile. Within these carpet styles are subgroups; the most common being Frieze, Berber, Saxony, and Sisal.

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Cut pile carpet is created when the fiber loops are CUT. When the yarn loops are cut, the result is an upright pile (see diagram above) and the ends of the carpet fiber are exposed.

Cut pile carpet is available in various lengths and thicknesses and is typically much softer than loop pile carpets. Cut pile is the most popular style of carpet and the two most common types of cut pile are Saxony and Frieze.

What is Saxony Carpet?

Saxony is the traditional cut pile carpet … it’s what you think of when you think of carpet! Its fibers stand upright and are cut in even lengths. Saxony typically isn’t as long as Frieze but is still higher than most Berbers or cut and loop combos.

Saxony comes in a variety of carpet fibers (Olefin, Nylon, etc.) and levels of quality. The pricing and durability are highly dependent on the fiber and level of quality you choose.

There are two types of Saxony: straight and textured.

Straight Saxony, also called Velvet Saxony, is created when all the carpet fibers go in the same direction and create a uniform look. This is a beautiful look, BUT it shows every single footprint and vacuum stroke! This is the type of carpet that you see a color difference if you brush your hand across it.

Textured Saxony is created when the carpet fibers are twisted into different directions. This does not produce the same effect as straight Saxony… meaning you do NOT see as much color variation if you brush your hand across the carpet. Textured Saxony is much better at hiding footprints and vacuum lines.

how to choose cut pile vs. loop pile carpet saxony carpet


What is Frieze Carpet?

Frieze carpet is sometimes referred to as ‘modern shag carpet’. It isn’t quite as long as a traditional shag, but it does have long, twisty fibers. Frieze is also available in a shorter (twisty) pile.

Unlike many cut pile carpets, Frieze carpet rarely shows footprints or vacuum lines. It’s extremely durable and tends to be very soft (and comfy) on your feet.

Frieze does have some drawbacks: it can be more costly than many cut piles and it’s hard to remove stains. However, the twisted pile is great at hiding stains!

how to choose cut pile vs. loop pile carpet frieze carpet



Loop pile refers to a carpet in which the loop fibers are NOT CUT (see diagram above). This type of carpet is left in it’s woven form and consists of several loops of carpet fiber.

A patterned loop carpet is formed when the loop fibers are at various heights. Loop piles rarely show footprints and vacuum lines.

Loop pile carpet can be rough on feet but is still a widely used carpet style because of its simple beauty. Two of the most popular types of loop pile carpet are Berber and Sisal.

What is Berber Carpet?

Berber carpet is the most popular type of loop pile carpet. It was originally named for the color flecks in the carpet, but now people commonly refer to any looped carpet as Berber.

Berber carpet is available at all price points; you can find very affordable choices because many Berbers are made from the low-cost carpet fiber, Olefin.

Overall, Berber is durable and easy to clean, but of course, this is highly dependent on the level of quality of Berber you choose. One downside to Berber is that it can easily snag (most loop pile carpets have this tendency).


how to choose cut pile vs. loop pile carpet berber


What is Sisal Carpet?

Sisal is another popular choice for looped pile carpets. It comes in a variety of beautiful textures and patterns. The major drawback to Sisal is that it tends to be very rough on your feet. 

how to choose cut pile vs. loop pile carpet sisal rug



As you might imagine, this type of carpet is a combination of both cut (straight) and looped yarns. This combo allows for unique carpet designs such as squares and other geometric or abstract patterns.

Combo cut and loop pile carpets add visual interest to a room and provide a beautifully textured look. It is best NOT to install this carpet style in high traffic areas.



I hope you now feel like you have a better understanding of the difference between cut pile and loop pile carpet … as well as can identify the four common carpet styles (Saxony, Frieze, Berber, and Sisal). Cut pile is simply carpet loops that have been cut, whereas loop pile is when loops remain in their natural state.

Now you can CONFIDENTLY walk into the carpet store and tell the retailer EXACTLY what you are looking for!

If you enjoyed this post and think it will be helpful to others, PLEASE share it via the social share buttons (or PIN any image)! You can find many more blog posts to help you design your dream home HERE.

  1. C says:

    This was great! Thank you!
    Wish you could advise me on new carpet for my flat. Need help!

  2. Sharon Housh says:


    Why not cut and look in high traffic areas? Steps. thanks ☺️

  3. Ken Dorrance says:

    I want to replace my cut pile carpet with loop pile carpet, but I want a good carpet. What kind of grades should I look for to find a good quailty loop pile carpet. What is the best?

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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