The Tufenkian Guide to Pile Height Perfection
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The Tufenkian Guide to Pile Height Perfection

Pile is a common term found when searching rug e-commerce sites, but what does rug pile mean? Rug pile refers to the visible tufts of yarn on a rug’s surface. In other words, the pile is the face of the rug. Rug pile can be cut or left in loops, thick or thin, soft or coarse.

Making Sense of Rug Pile Types

When browsing rug e-commerce sites, you’ve probably come across the term ‘pile’. But often, even the more discerning may not fully understand what it means, and how it may affect your living space. Let us offer you some added clarity on carpet pile types. In short, ’pile’ refers to the visible tufts of yarn on a rugs surface. Consider the ‘pile’ the face of the rug. Rug pile or carpet pile can be cut or left in loops—thick or thin, soft or coarse.

The following is a description of prominent pile types, detailing all you need to know about each, as well as which will best suit your space and lifestyle.

Pile Types

As we touched on above, rug pile comes in two varieties: cut and loop. Cut-pile is more prevalent—characterized by tufts and clipped yarn loops. Cut pile carpets are notably soft and dense, and therefore apt for areas where shoes are shed in favor of bare feet. Think cozy bedrooms or cushioned living rooms.

Then, there’s the unsung hero: loop-pile rugs. Loop pile carpets tend to be woven or tufted, leaving the yarn loops uncut and intact. This less-common, yet more efficacious ‘pile’ does wonders for durability; resulting in more lasting, well-made rugs fit for high foot-traffic areas.


While rug or carpet pile heights vary, they typically fall into three categories: low (less than ¼ inch), medium (¼ to ½ inch), and high (½ to ¾ inch).

Piles longer than ¾ inch aren’t quite as common. These types are usually designated as “plush” pile height because the longer the pile gets, the softer the rug feels. In contrast, the fibers in low-pile rugs tend to be more tightly woven and dense, causing them to feel and seem flat—even coarse at times.

Suffice to say, high-pile rugs exhibit longer and looser threads, resulting in a general soft, fluffy touch, complimented by an elegant appearance.

Traditional-style rugs, especially Oriental, Persian and Tibetan rugs, historically have low piles. However, contemporary adaptations of these have given way to increasingly higher piles in an effort to keep up with design trends and stylistic preferences.


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Care and Durability

Once again, rugs with high-pile are significantly softer, beckoning bare feet and boasting remarkable comfort. On the other hand, low-pile rugs are easier to clean, and more durable than their fuller, more vertical counterparts.

With low-pile rugs, the shorter fibers and loops prevent dust and dirt from digging into the rug. Instead, anything you track in tends to remain on the surface. Adding light and vacuuming frequently captures the dust and dirt, making maintenance much easier.

High-pile rugs, on the other hand, often invite excess dirt deep within. Intense vacuuming and aggressive stain treatments are often the sole remedy. You’ll certainly have to keep up with the upkeep in order to preserve their original condition.

Low piles wear more evenly than high piles, another reason why they’re better suited for high-traffic areas, like entryways and hallways.

Finally, low-pile rugs are more resistant to wear from furniture, while high-pile rugs can invite rather unwelcome indentations. This is all to say that if you value durability and easy maintenance, low-pile rugs are the more practical choice.

Cut or loop? Low or high?

Both rug pile types and heights have their place and purpose in any home. Cut and high-pile rugs tend to be softer to the touch for those that prefer exceptional comfort. Loop and low-pile rugs aren’t uncomfortable by any means, and their disposition holds up well against shoe-traffic and stains.

We recommend taking your living situation into account and potentially listing the traits you value most in a rug. This is to say, assess your needs and preferences before choosing the ‘pile’ that best suits your home and lifestyle. Our customer service team will gladly answer any further rug pile height and rug pile type questions as well as any loop-pile and cut-pile carpet concerns. When it comes to rug-related decor, Tufenkian is here to help you make the most sound decision.

Give us a call at 800.928.6671 or contact us online.


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