What is High Pile Carpet: A Complete Guide

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what is high pile carpet

If you are shopping for new carpet you will come across a lot of different brands, styles and options. There are also different factors that make your choices even harder. One of those factors is carpet pile height.

In general there are three types of carpet pile, low, medium and high. Each pile has its own set backs, limitations and benefits. High pile is a popular option but is it right for you?

In this review we will discuss what high pile carpet is, tips and tricks to buying the right type and installing it correctly. We will also cover the pros, cons and answer all of your questions. Read on to learn everything you need to know about high pile carpeting.

Top Brands of High Pile Carpeting

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Carpet Type for Your Home

buyers guide choosing best carpet type

Before you can ever buy your carpet you should understand everything that goes into that purchasing decision. Proper planning and knowledge will ensure your purchase not only saves you money but delivers as expected.

Coverage Area/Project Size

The size of the floor area you wish to cover is arguably the most important thing you need to know. This measurement (in square feet) will not only tell you how much material to purchase, but it will also tell you the types of carpet you can use, how much to expect for installation and more.

Not only will ordering and getting install estimates be easier, you will also know how much additional materials to buy. This will be things like baseboards, thresholds, tack strips and more. Proper budget planning is crucial and it all starts with the coverage area measurements.

Subfloor Type & Condition

The type of subfloor you have will drastically change the installation method. Plywood subfloors are highly recommended since you won’t need additional adhesives in moist cases. However, whether you have plywood or concrete, it needs to be in good repair.

If the subfloor is cracked, uneven, damaged or moldy, those attributes will transfer to the carpet. Even with thick padding, the bottom side of your carpet will wear and eventually cause visible issues on the top.

Unless you already have the current carpet or flooring removed to expose the subfloor, though, you may not be able to tell the extent of any damage or problems. Plan accordingly to prevent any surprises when your installer reports the condition they find.

Installation Options

Installing carpet isn’t an easy task and if you do not have experience in the craft, it is also not a DIY option. While most brands won’t come out and say it (as it generally isn’t an issue), without professional installation, you may void your warranty.

This doesn’t mean you can’t install the carpet yourself. However, if you do decide to take on the project, make sure your warranty will remain intact before you start.

The best option, though, is to hire a professional. This, of course, will come with a higher initial cost, but can save you a lot in the long run. Finding the right contractor can be a chore, though. You want to make sure the contractor is well experienced with your carpet type, can perform subfloor repairs and is licensed, bonded and insured.

We can help you find the right contractor. By using our free tool, you will be put in contact with up to 4 contractors that are background checked, rated and reviewed. Best of all you will only get results that are local to you so you don’t need to worry about out of town contractors.

To use the app, we have partnered with Networx. You can find it here. It is free to use so give it a try today!

Carpet Style, Pattern or Loop

Along with the pile height, you also need to decide the pile style, pattern and looping (or cut). The carpet fiber has everything to do with the softness, plushness or stiffness of the carpet as a whole. The shorter cut the fibers, the tighter the pile and the stiffer the carpet.

This makes it easy to clean and care for, but also prevents the carpet from being soft and plush underfoot. High pile carpet is soft, it bends and flexes to give way underfoot and many homeowners want this feeling in their home.

If the fibers are not cut at the tips, then it is called a loop pattern. However, there are two types of cut loop patterns to be aware of as well. The top cut is when the tops of the loops are cut even across the entire carpet leaving long, thick fibers and an even surface.

Loop cut is when the loops are cut vertically at the tip. It has a more wild look as the carpet isn’t even all over. Shag carpet, for example, is a high pile loop cut carpet style. Both options are thick and plush but one (top cut) is more uniform and even while the other (loop cut) is uneven and wild.

Cost & Warranty

The cost and warranty of your new carpet is something you will have to research diligently yourself. There are several factors that govern the cost of high pile carpet, aside from the brand and style.

You also need to consider the fiber type, cut style and if the fibers are natural or synthetic. Further, you need to know if the carpet is treated, stain protection, wear protection, has additional backing or other features that can affect the price.

Where you buy your carpet, who performs the installation, the region of the country you live in and even the time of year can all affect the overall initial price of your new carpet. For mid-range to high-end carpet brands and styles, though, your per square foot range should be fairly constant.

You can expect to pay between $4 and $8 per square foot for most good to high quality carpets. This can extend to up to $15 for premium carpet. You also need to add in the labor cost for install which can add between $2 and $4 per square foot as well.

The warranty will also vary between vendors, contractors and brands. Some offer 10 to 20 year wear and tear protection, lifetime stain or damage and even fade protection, or anything in between. Make sure you read through the warranty paperwork before you buy. You want to know what is covered, what isn’t covered and how long the coverage lasts.

What Is Carpet Pile?

what is carpet pile

Carpet pile is simultaneously easy to define and difficult to explain. It is a term that means so much and has so many variations that it is easy to become confused. Let’s try to clear a bit of it up and make it easier for you to understand what you are shopping for.

In the most basic terms, the pile of the carpet refers to the fibers that you walk on. The pile can be loose, tight, tall or short, but when people talk about pile, in most instances they are talking about the part of the carpet that you see and use.

Pile is much more than that, though. Carpet pile type is determined by how tall the fibers are and how they are cut. Pile is also the term determined by how dense the fibers are. Looser fibers and tight, dense fibers will be different pile types, too.

The carpet construction (without getting too technical) starts at the bottom. The carpet base is made and the fiber is woven in from the bottom. The fiber is then looped back down through the base creating a loop on the top. This is then repeated hundreds of thousands of times and when completed the backing is put on the underside to keep everything in place.

If the carpet is left in this condition it is a loop pile, since the tops of the fibers are all looped from and back to the base. A top-cut loop pile is when the tops of those loops are cut horizontally and evenly. This is evident by the even top layer since the tops of the loops have been cut off and removed.

A loop-cut pile is when the loops are cut vertically to create two individual fibers. Nothing is removed, the loop is simply snipped. Depending on how tight you pull the loops, where you make the cut (if any) and what type of cut, you can short, medium or high pile carpet, dense or loose woven pile and any combination of these options.

The carpet pile is the type of cut, the density of the fibers and how high they are from the base. High pile carpet is typically dense, higher fiber with a top or loop cut. It is plush, soft and can get expensive with premium brands.

How to Clean High Pile Carpet

As you can probably imagine, high pile carpeting collects more dirt, dust and debris than low pile carpeting. For this simple reason cleaning high pile carpet is more difficult and more tedious than other carpet types.

A vacuum is the go-to cleaning tool for carpet, but with high pile types, you have to ensure the vacuum can handle the pile height. Without a brush roller or beater bar to vibrate the fibers and loosen the dirt deep in the carpet.

Stick vacuums, robot vacuums and those with suction only aren’t going to do much for high pile carpeting. You will need a model with a large, powerful motor and brush roller to get deep into the carpet fibers to lift and remove the build up dirt.

Unlike low pile carpet you will need to vacuum much more often, too. Where you may vacuum once a week with low pile carpet, high pile requires near constant cleaning. Weekly cleaning will work for surface dirt, but not the deep down dirt that can cause damage to the carpet base.

For that, you will need to vacuum two or three times as often and using a carpet shampooer once a month or two will go a long way to preserving the new look, feel and smell of the carpet.

Care and Maintenance Tips for High Pile Carpeting

care and maintenance tips for high pile carpeting

Caring for carpet isn’t an overly difficult task. However, with high pile carpet there are certain tips and tricks to ensure your carpet stays clean, presentable and plush. Let’s look at those tips now.

  • Monitor traffic and activity. Prevention is the best form of cleanliness. If you ensure that dirt and debris are minimized and the chances of tracking them in from outside are diminished, it is easier to keep clean.
  • Clean thoroughly and clean often. High pile carpet requires more frequent cleaning, but you have to vacuum slower and give the machine time to get deep into the fibers.
  • Use dry shampoo. Dry shampoo is a deodorizer powder that you sprinkle over the carpet and let it set for a while before vacuuming up. This helps remove odors and can even loosen dirt deep in the carpet fibers.
  • Dab wet spills with a towel. If you do spill liquid on the carpet do not rub or scrub with a paper towel or cotton towel. Instead use the towel and dab or pat the spill until it is dried up. Rubbing will make the stain larger and deeper embedded in the carpet.
  • Use a shampooer on a regular basis. Shampooers inject water into the carpet to clean it deeper and better than dry shampoo or a simple vacuum can do. However, the high pile stays wet longer and additional care needs to be taken to allow full drying time.

Pros and Cons of High Pile Carpet

As with any item or product, there are benefits and negative aspects. You can’t take the good without the bad. With high pile carpet, there are a lot of benefits, but if you can’t handle the negative side, it may not be a worthwhile investment for you.

Luxurious and comfortableCan get expensive quickly
High noise absorptionWarranty coverage may be lacking
Extreme durabilityHigher care and maintenance than low pile
Multiple styles and color optionsNot manufactured by all brands
Versatile height options 
Stain and fade resistance included 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq what is high pile carpet

In this section we will answer the most commonly asked questions about high pile carpet, and carpet in particular. If you have other questions please use the comment section below.

Q. How do you vacuum a high pile carpet?

  1. The most important aspect for making vacuuming high pile carpet easier is to ensure proper air flow. Most modern vacuums will have floor height adjustment settings. Lower settings will prevent air flow and hinder the brush roller from moving properly.

When you vacuum a high pile carpet you need to go slow and ensure your vacuum is set to the right height for the carpet you have.

Q. Does Roomba work on high pile carpet?

  1. Roomba robotic vacuums have a lot of different models. Not all models will work well on high pile carpet. The 600, 700 and most 800 series will not be efficient on high pile carpet. The late 800 series models, like 880 and 890 series will work pretty well and the 900 series will also do well on high pile carpeting. This is also true of the newer i- and s-series models.

Q. What is the best vacuum for high pile carpet?

  1. There are many upright vacuums that will perform well on all types of carpet, but for high pile in particular, you can look to Dyson, Miele and Shark all make models that are specifically designed for high pile carpets.

Q. What is the top brand for high pile carpeting?

  1. The obvious answers for any carpet brands will come down to Mohawk and Shaw. While this is true, there are other brands worth looking into. That list includes Karastan and Phenix as well as Fabrica and Stanton. Any of these brands will have options that suit your needs.


High pile carpet isn’t as popular as it once was, but it still holds a place for specific needs and many people enjoy the benefits it still offers. Finding the right high pile carpet begins with understanding what high pile carpet is.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand carpeting a bit more and in particular the high pile side of the industry. With denser, softer fibers and a plush, luxurious feel underfoot, high pile carpet may be the best investment you can make for your home.

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Nora has more than 5 years experience in the floor covering industry, acquiring vast knowledge about installation and material selection. She now enjoys working as a writer and an interior decorator. Her work has been featured in The Spruce, Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Real Homes. See full biography here.

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