Carpet Shading

Published: August 25th, 2015

Have you ever noticed how some carpeting will show vacuum marks and footprints? That is shading. Some carpets will show shading when you brush your hand across them.

Is shading a defect? Well, no. It is a characteristic, and for your satisfaction with your installed carpet it is important to know whether you prefer this characteristic or not. Some installations, such as formal settings, call for fine, sheared carpet styles that are expected to show shading.

Some carpets are much more prone to exhibit shading than others. Cut-pile (plush) carpets are most commonly associated with shading, and loop-style (Berber) carpets seldom shade. Carpets made with very soft carpet fibers (polyesters, Triexta, Tigressa Cherish, Anso Caress) will tend to shade more than older, harder styles of nylon.

carpet shading comparisonWhat’s happening is that the carpeting appears to our eyes to be a slightly different color in certain areas. It usually looks like a very similar color – blues don’t appear brown – but it’s perhaps a “shade” or two off. The appearance of the color of the carpeting depends to some degree on how the light reflects off of the carpet fiber. We can demonstrate this very clearly when we show the same piece of carpeting with the nap turned three different ways. When the light reflects differently, we see different shades of color.

comparison of carpet napThis picture also demonstrates shading fairly well. This carpeting is installed in our showroom, is nearly brand new, is made from one color of yarn, and is a patterned carpet with both cuts and loops. At first glance, it shows foot traffic, and the pattern is not sharp in all areas. When we look a little more closely, we can see what is really going on. The loop pile in this style is a consistent, light shade. The cut pile in this style, however, is subject to shading, depending on which way the fibers have been brushed / vacuumed / walked on. Where the pattern in the carpet is sharp and high-contrast, the cut pile is brushed in one direction, and where the pattern seems to disappear, the cut pile is brushed in a direction that makes its shade appear nearly identical to the shade of the loop pile.

So what can you do if you do not prefer shading in your carpeting? You could select a loop-only style: that will do the trick. If you are looking for a cut pile or a cut and loop pattern, look for older styles of nylon. The carpeting manufacturers seem to believe that the end user wants softness over everything else, and all the research and development is going into softer and softer styles … which will tend to show more and more shading in the cut pile. There are manufacturers that specifically use older styles of nylon to minimize shading in cut piles.

Looking for help selecting the style and color that’s right for you? Contact us today by calling 952-933-8944 or Contact Us.