Wool carpet is a natural textile and it's useful to understand what traits are common when a carpet is new and what you can expect from certain styles of carpet.
Fluffing on new carpet Sprouting Tracking vs permanent shading Fading Crush marks Indentations from heavy furniture Insect damage
Fluffing on new carpet
When a carpet is new, balls of fluff may appear on the surface. These are loose bits of fibre left in the pile by the manufacturing process and are a tiny proportion of the fibre in the pile. This fluff will likely fill the bag of your vacuum for the first few times you vacuum and it is perfectly safe to vacuum thoroughly.
On loop pile carpets this fluff can be more difficult to free from the pile and may appear as frizzing. Use of a vacuum with a strong suction will usually free these balls of fluff.
Walking in socks or pantyhose on your new carpet can accentuate fluffing because the fibres in the socks or pantyhose can draw these loose fibres to the surface.
A single tuft rising up from the pile surface is called 'sprouting' and any such tufts in a cut pile carpet may be safely trimmed with scissors without affecting the appearance - but do not pull the tuft or it could unravel and leave a hole in the carpet. With loop pile carpets, we would not recommend cutting the tuft - professional repair would be advised and this can be arranged through your carpet dealer.
Tracking vs. permanent shading
As the name suggests, 'tracking' is the imprint left by footprints on your carpet. This is more common on the plusher cut pile surfaces and disappears with vacuuming, but may reappear when the carpet is next walked on. Carpet is most prone to tracking in areas of heavy use such as doorways and halls. These areas should be given extra attention during routine vacuum cleaning.
All cut pile carpets, particularly 'plush pile' carpets will develop lighter or darker patches over time. Known as "shading" or "watermarking" it is caused by the permanent bending of the carpet pile fibres which then reflect the light differently. In this respect it is very comparable to velvet - which also shows light and dark areas. The extent to which shading occurs cannot be accurately predicted or prevented and is most often related to the location of use rather than the type of carpet construction. Shading often becomes apparent six to eight weeks after the carpet is first installed. Brushing or shampooing does not reduce shading.
Shading does not affect the wear or durability of the carpet and is not recognised as a manufacturing flaw or defect. This topic was covered by TVNZ's Fair Go programme in February 2011.
In common with all natural textiles, your wool carpet will fade or change colour over time in areas consistently exposed to sunlight. Light and pastel coloured carpets are the most vulnerable, but no carpet is immune.
North or west-facing glass doors or floor-to-ceiling windows, are the worse offenders and we'd recommend these be fitted with effective UV protection on the glass. Curtains, blinds and louvres offer the best protection. Laying tiles around the border of the room and insetting the carpet within this can also provide protection from the worst of the sunlight at the edge of a room.
Solution-dyed nylon and SmartStrand carpets can offer excellent fade resistance - be sure to read the warranties carefully as some are better than others.
On occasions, new carpet will exhibit noticeable light and dark areas, often in strips. This is more likely to occur with plusher pile carpets and is known as crush marks - caused by the weight of the carpet in a large roll pressing down on the layers underneath and bending the fibres. It can also happen when two rolls that have been rolled at different tightness are laid next to each other. Over time and with regular vacuuming and general foot traffic, this effect will diminish, though it can take 3-6 months or so for the marks to disappear entirely. This is not considered a manufacturing defect.
Indentations from heavy furniture
Place furniture cups under the legs of heavy furniture and regularly shift the furniture a few inches one way or another to give the pile a chance to recover.
To revive flattened pile, you can use a warm steam iron over a towel laid on top of the carpet. Hold the steam iron gently to the towel and use the steam button to inject steam - do not press the iron down on the towel as this could leave gloss marks on the carpet underneath.
We strongly recommend the use of protector mats where castor chairs are used.
Carpet damage by insect attack occurs where food, animal or plant substances are present near a wool carpet. Homes in rural areas appear to be at higher risk. Preventive measures include regular and thorough vacuuming, especially in areas around and under furniture that is not moved frequently, and along skirting boards. Insect damage is not an issue with synthetic carpets.
Disclamier: This column is offered as advice only. All care has been taken to ensure that information is correct at time of publishing.