There seems to be a lot of confusion about the term Berber carpets. Part of the reason for this is modern use of the term berber vs. traditional berbers.
Modern Berber Carpets
Modern berber carpets are distinguished by a looped carpet construction, and they usually contain small flecks of darker or lighter shades vs. the background color. The size of the loops can vary. They typically come in neutral colors with no pattern (or a random pattern) and they tend to be less expensive and durable. They are less soft vs. a traditional cut pile or texture carpet you might put in a bedroom. As a result, they are popular for basements, family rooms and steps.
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Traditional Berber Carpets
Berber carpets get their name from Traditional Berbers which are traditional hand-woven carpets made by the Berber people of North Africa. They use a distinct knot (which is similar to the knot of modern berbers), but they are brightly colored with designs.
Traditional Berber carpets are completely different from the modern mass produced berber carpets usually known in the US and Canada. They are much more sophisticated and are made of natural materials while most modern berbers are made with synthetic materials
Berber carpet fibers
Just like other types of carpet, the quality of berber carpets differ based on the fiber used (the higher the quality, the higher the cost). Wools and nylons are better quality, but they are less common, as they cost more. Many berbers are a blend of fibers. The most common carpet fibers for berber are:
- Wool berbers – highest quality, highest cost
- Nylon berbers – good quality, mid price
- Olefin berbers (or polypropylene) – lower quality, lower price (also comes in PET/polyester).
Benefits of berber carpet
- Durable – they can often take a lot of wear and tear on heavy traffic areas. The loop construction gives the fibers more support vs. a cut carpet which will crush more both from furniture and foot traffic
- Hide dirt better – most have flecks of color which help hide dirt and stains a bit better vs a solid color carpet. Note: it’s still advisable to vacuum regularly and use a professional carpet cleaner annually
- Tend to absorb less moisture, bacteria and allergens – there is less room for the carpet to absorb these, so they are generally better for areas that have minor moisture (e.g. basements) vs. a plush cut carpet and are relatively better for those with allergies and allergens.
- Often, they are less expensive (but this can vary based on the quality of the fiber and weave)
Drawbacks to berber carpet
- They are a bit more challenging to install, even by a seasoned pro, and show seams easily. It’s extra important to have a reputable carpet store install berber carpets and optimize seam placement to show the least wear.
- Cheaper berbers can unravel, especially if the loops get caught in heels or pet claws.
- Can be difficult to clean if dirt does get lodged in the fibers, and it may need dry cleaning or specialized service for deep cleaning.