Carpet Pile Reversal; what is it?

Carpet Pile Reversal

Carpet Pile Reversal Explained

Carpet Pile Reversal is a phenomenon which causes a permanent change in the carpet’s appearance.

All carpet piles reflect light off the sides and tip of the yarn, pile reversal is seen when this light is reflecting in different directions because of the way the pile has shifted. Shaded areas appear light from one direction and dark from another direction. 

Often it has been described as looking as though water has spilled on sections of the carpet. This is why pile reversal can often be called watermarking, pooling, shading, or highlighting.

In many carpet installations, the pile reversal direction is predictable from the pattern of foot traffic. In other situations, it can be more mysterious, some say it could be a consequence of an uneven subfloor, or strong magnetic fields are thought to be possible causes for this phenomenon.

Pile reversal is impossible to predict or prevent, because the exact cause of it is still unknown. Any pile yarn carpet can be affected by pile reversal; however, it is more common in smooth surfaced, densely constructed, plush carpets. 

Carpet Pile Reversal is not a manufacturing defect. 

It doesn’t affect the durability of the carpet. Pile reversal is not because of defective materials used to produce the carpet, or an error in the manufacturing process – It is actually possible to develop pile reversal on any carpet, regardless of the style or material. 

Unfortunately, once pile reversal has occurred, it is impossible to remove permanently.

Brushing or vacuuming can create some degree of temporary appearance change. However, as this change only happens at the top portion of the carpet fibre, the pile will return to the reversed position after it is again subjected to foot traffic.

Do all carpets suffering from Carpet Pile Reversal look the same?

No, this will depend on the nature of the carpet, some can appear worse than others depending on their style or pattern. Loop pile carpets and cut pile carpets with matte yarns have a low light reflecting quality so pile reversal will be less noticeable. Similarly, carpets which have bold patterns tend to help hide the reflected light caused by pile reversal. Pile reversal can vary, if the collapse is moderate, shading may not be visible even though pile reversal has occurred.

It is not possible to guarantee that pile reversal will not develop in a carpet, but if you need some advice or assistance please do contact Millers. We are proud members of The Carpet Foundation. We operate to the highest standards in our industry and can offer you trusted reliable advice on Carpets and Flooring.