What is Berber Carpet?
Berber carpet is a style of carpet made with an uncut, loop pile construction. These tightly woven loops create a knotted texture and provide a durable, even surface that is still soft to the touch. Typically Berber carpets come in natural, muted tones, perhaps with flecks of color here or there, and traditionally, this has made them popular in more formal/functional settings.
Last Updated: July 7, 2023, by: Greca Fotopoulos
If you’ve been researching buying carpet for your home, I’m sure that there’s one word that keeps cropping up: Berber.
In recent years Berber carpet has reached almost Holy Grail status in carpeting – admired and loved for its durability, versatility, and its usually neutral tones that provide a warm background to any home decor aesthetic.
But the modern Berber carpet has evolved quite dramatically from the original hand-woven wool rugs made by the Berber people of North Africa. Today’s manufactured Berber comes in all kinds of innovative synthetic materials, as well as wool, and can have different finishes applied to improve stain-resistance and performance.
Whilst all these developments are in many ways very helpful for modern life, they are also cause for a lot of confusion for potential buyers.
So read on for our definitive guide to Berber carpet to make sure you choose the best berber for your home. If you’re not sure if Berber is right for you then please read our post on finding the best carpet for your home.
Related Reading: Is Frieze Carpet Going Out of Style?
ARE BERBER CARPETS THE SAME AS LOOP CARPETS?
In a nutshell: yes, Berber carpets the same as loop carpets! The modern Berber refers to a style of carpet construction that involves looping the carpet fiber before fixing it onto the backing.
Note that there are different types of loop carpeting, such as patterned loops and uneven loops. What would usually distinguish a carpet as specifically Berber would be that the loops are even and the overall fiber color is a light neutral tone sometimes with flecks of darker color as well.
But buyers beware – the carpet industry is forever evolving and lately we have seen that some large-scale manufacturers moving away from having a distinct Berber carpet section, and only offering a loop carpet category. So essentially, yes, today loop and Berber are pretty much the same thing!
MODERN BERBER CARPET FIBERS
As mentioned above, modern Berber carpets come in all kinds of different materials. Read on to find out which are the best and which to avoid at all costs!
Wool Berber is the absolutely best option, if you can afford it! This is because :
- wool fibers are totally natural, they are non-toxic and hypoallergenic
- wool is also very soft and by far the most comfortable fiber to walk on
- wool fibers naturally retain their shape and resist most liquids, thus avoiding staining and crushing issues (see below).
There’s also a kind of undefined aspect to wool fibers that just gives off a feel of total luxury. But all these great advantages come with a price: wool fiber Berber carpets tend to be the most expensive on the market (see below).
Berber carpets made with nylon fibers are the most readily available type of Berber and offer a good balance between affordability, durability and versatility:
- nylon fibers are virtually un-crushable, meaning that your carpet will resist everyday wear and tear a lot longer than other fibers.
- nylon has a higher flash point (see below), which makes it more resistant to damage
- nylon is easy to keep clean, especially since many branded nylon fibers have propriety stain repellent treatments added to them (think Stainmaster Carpets).
Nylon Berbers tend to be a fair bit cheaper than wool Berbers, but the disadvantage is that they are not a natural fiber and not quite as soft as wool.
Some manufacturers also offer Berber carpets made of blended fibers (typically wool and nylon blend), in which case you will get the best of both worlds!
TRIEXTA (PTT) BERBER
Also known under various brand names such as SmartStrand (from Mohawk) and Sorona (from DuPont), triexta is a chemical compound fiber that, whilst on the face of it seems similar to polyester, has actually been proven to perform just as well as nylon:
- triexta is very durable,
- triexta has a super high level of stain resistance (because it simply doesn’t absorb moisture)
- triexta is softer than nylon
- triexta has a great environmentally friendly advantage as, like wool, it is made using renewable resources.
Retailing at around the same price as nylon triexta it is just as good (possibly better) than nylon and a good choice for families. However, as this fiber is very new to the market, it has not yet had years of reviews and testing.
OLEFIN/ POLYESTER (PET) BERBER
If you’re on a very tight budget, you might be tempted to opt for a Berber carpet made with either olefin fibers or polyester fibers (also known as PET fibers). DON’T! These cheaper carpet fibers come with major disadvantages :
- more prone to crushing (repetitive walking will end up leaving irreparable flattened dents)
- crushed carpet tends to look dirtier than it is
- olefin and polyester also have low flash points – heavy friction will cause scuff marks
On the plus side olefin and polyester are great at resisting stains and spills, and PET fiber is made from recycling bottle caps and tires.
Related Reading: Nylon or Polyester Carpet – Which is Better?
BERBER CARPET COST
Is Berber carpet expensive? The answer depends primarily on the fiber you choose, but Berber is often more expensive than other types of carpet. This is primarily down to fibers and construction.
As we’ve laid out above, different carpet fibers offer different advantages, and the adage of you get what you pay for is absolutely true in the carpet industry. The more expensive fibers, such as wool, perform better than the cheapest.
Here’s a table comparing Berber carpet prices according to carpet fiber:
|Type of carpet fiber||Average prices per square foot|
|Olefin/ Polyester (PET)||$1-$2|
OTHER COSTS AFFECTING BERBER CARPET PRICE
As well as carpet fiber, there are several other factors that will affect the price of your Berber carpet installation. These are:
- cost of under carpet padding
- added cost of extra carpet allowance for stretching and patterns (a general rule of thumb is to add on 10% extra above your actual square footage)
- installations costs (which will vary according to installation specifics, for example if your rooms has a complicated layout, of if you want to run carpet on stairs)
Related reading: Carpet Installation Cost
Make sure you use a trusted carpet installer who will advise you on exactly how much carpet you will need for your space. Also, always opt for the manufacturer recommended carpet padding for best performance.
For other types of carpets and rugs we have a dedicated carpet prices page.
PROS & CONS OF BERBER CARPET
As you can see from the section above, the advantages of a Berber carpet depend to some extent on the type of fiber it is made from; let’s look at the other pros and cons that are true of all Berber carpets no matter what fiber they’re made from.
ADVANTAGES OF BERBER CARPET
Assuming you’ve opted for a fiber that performs well, you can expect the following advantages from your Berber carpet:
- Durability: because of the way the loops are attached to the backing, Berbers are very durable and aren’t usually prone to fraying. Note that your carpet’s durability will also have much to do with the quality of the carpet padding, the installation, and its maintenance. (see below for maintenance tips)
- Elegant aesthetic: Berber carpets give a more formal and elegant look, as opposed to the more informal and comfortable look of a textured, shag or frieze carpet.
- Good for stairs: the loop construction makes for a better anti-slip surface, so Berber carpet is a great choice for stairs.
DISADVANTAGES OF BERBER CARPET
As noted by Brandon at Carpet Captain Berber carpet “is one of the most durable carpets in the right conditions, but it can be a disaster in the wrong situations.” Here are the main disadvantages to be aware of:
- Possibly not ideal for pets or kids. Because it is possible to snag the loops of a Berber carpet and cause a row of loops to unravel, some critics advise against this style of carpet if you have pets or kids. However, this may not be a real problem if you have older kids and pets whose claws are trimmed often.
- Not as easy as to clean as other styles of carpet? Because of the very nature of its construction, some critics claim that Berber carpets are not as easy to clean as other styles of carpet. However we think that this “risk” can be easily mitigated by taking the necessary measures to avoid tracking dirt into your home (such as making sure that there are doormats at exterior doors, rugs and runners in high traffic areas, and going barefoot or using slippers indoors).
Further Reading: Carpet PAR Ratings
UNDERSTANDING BERBER CARPET TERMINOLOGY
Apart from which fiber to choose, it also pays to understand some of the terminology that manufacturers use in Berber carpet descriptions. So here’s a quick list of some of the terms that will come up:
Crushing or matting: In high traffic areas like hallways, where people are using the same route over and over, crushing can occur where the carpet fiber is pressed down repeatedly over time, making it less attractive. And, as light reflects off crushed fibers differently, crushed areas will generally look darker, which is often mistaken for dirt!
Scorching: Carpet fibers with low flash points can literally get scorched (burnt) if heavy furniture is pulled or dragged along them, leaving ugly scuff marks. Avoid this by opting for wool, triexta or nylon fibers.
Fading: Most carpet fibers will fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. This is especially true for wool fibers, so consider keeping carpeted rooms shaded in the summertime.
Face weight: This refers to the amount of fiber used per square yard, the higher the better for quality and performance. Anything around 40 oz is good; 63 oz or over is best! But, as warned by Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk on the This Old House website you should only compare like for like: “an olefin sample may weigh more than a nylon, but it has entirely different performance qualities.”
Total weight: This refers to the total weight of fibers plus backing per square yard. Given the different variables of the backing, this information is pretty meaningless!
Density: Theoretically carpets that have great density will be more durable, but, as the Berber carpet construction is already quite packed, you might be confused to see lower density ratings on Berbers. So, don’t let the density be the deciding factor, but rather be guided by the overall technical details and the warranty.
Stain Treatment: Modern technology has created lots of amazing chemical compounds to help avoid the many potential household disasters. And that is a beautiful thing and they do indeed help but, as eloquently put by the Carpet Guru “there are no miracle stain treatments”, especially if your carpet is light colored, or if bleach is spilled!
BERBER CARPET MAINTENANCE
Here are some othe Home Flooring Pros top tips for keeping your Berber carpet looking as good as the day it was installed:
- Use doormats, runners and rugs in high traffic areas.
- Wear slippers indoors and keep pet claws trimmed.
- Lift furniture, don’t drag it, as this risks scorching the fiber.
- Act quickly to deal with spills and stains. However, note that no matter how quickly you react, there will always be a risk of permanent staining if the stain is bleach, oil or tar based.
- Never use vacuum cleaners with rotating brushes, as they risk snagging the loops!
- Read the warranty! Many policies will only cover certain kinds of damage and will specify what kind of carpet padding and cleaning products to use. If you don’t comply, then your warranty is likely to be null and void. Decent Berber carpets should have a warranty of at least 10 years and cover both wear and stain damage.
BERBER CARPET IDEAS
Of course, where you choose to install Berber carpet is a matter of personal choice, but here are some of the more popular design ideas:
Living room: Berber carpet in the living room is a classic choice, because it is an elegant style that is not overly formal but also not completely casual. It’s a more mature, assured look, ideally suited to transitional spaces. Living room Berber carpet colors tend to be neutral— sometimes with flecks of a slightly different tone that gives the fiber a more “natural” look— and serve as the perfect backdrop for the rest of your living room décor.
Bedroom: Whilst Berber carpet is a little more formal than a textured or frieze carpet, it can still be used in bedrooms to great effect if you opt for one that has chunkier fibers or a pattern that will add texture and give your bedroom a cozier feel. Many manufacturers are now offering Berber or looped carpets that have patterns created by different size loops.
Stairs: The loops in Berber carpet create a great anti-slip surface that is ideal for stairs. Stairways are also where the floor can become a focal point; opt for looped carpets in bolder colors or ones that have an integral pattern in the design created by weaving loops of different colored fibers.
BEST BERBER CARPET BRANDS
Mohawk Flooring – It’s no surprise that “the world’s largest flooring company” has a lot of Berber and loop pile carpets! At the time of writing, their product lines have been streamlined to offer just two that have loop carpets: EverStrand has over 100 different loop carpet options (in terms of style and colorways) and SmartStrand has a little over 80 loop carpet options.
So, there really is more than enough to choose from. Mohawk is also at the cutting edge of fiber technology and is one of the few manufacturers offering a full range of triexta fiber carpets (SmartStrand). Note that the EverStrand carpets are made with the less appealing PET polyester fiber.
Stainmaster – If Mohawk’s vast output is just a little too scary, but you still want lots to choose from, then check out the many options of Berber style “level loop” and “multi-level loop” carpets at Stainmaster. Stainmaster do use both polyester fiber and nylon fiber, so you’ll want to check the detail on that; but both options offer a very large choice of styles, but not so much that it becomes impossible.
Widely available from retailers across the country and with a good reputation and limited lifetime warranties, Stainmaster is a trusted brand that’s worth exploring.
Shaw Flooring – Another well-known all-round flooring company is Shaw, though their carpeting collection is rather more manageable than the two brands above. They have a selection of around 20 styles in their Berber/ loop carpet range that come in numerous colorways.
Be aware though that Shaw’s carpets are made either from nylon, polyester or olefin; so be sure to check that the one you fall in love with is a nylon one!
TrafficMaster – Available exclusively through the Home Depot, this brand has around 15 different Berber style carpets, each with several colorways. As with other carpet manufacturers, different styles come in different fibers including nylon, olefin and polyester.
One thing that does stand out most about TrafficMaster is that they have a wider selection of deep brown toned loop carpets than other brands.
Nature’s Carpet – If you’re set on a wool Berber carpet then this rather interesting, eco-friendly company that are based in Canada, but retailing throughout Northern America. They offer 100% wool carpets that are almost all Berber or loop styles, with prices starting around $7 per square foot.
As well as their green credentials, what we like is the gorgeous quality of their products – with excellent close-up images on their website to give a true view of the product.
About the Author:
Greca is the lead style writer at Home Flooring Pros (more), with a BA in Technical Art, she’s focused on flooring trends, flooring ideas, and flooring brand reviews.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a home that you love. The hardest thing about this job is trying not to covet all the great floors I get to review; if I could remodel my home every month, I would!”