Carpet pile reversal


Have you ever cleaned a carpet and noticed a weird, “squiggly” line running across it, or forming what looks like a “pool”?

Perhaps you cleaned a hallway, and the middle of it has a weird, uneven line running the length.

If so, you are the victim of “pile distortion”, also referred to as:

  • Pile reversal
  • Watermarking
  • Pooling
  • Shading

Taking the blame

Whose fault is this? Don’t worry… it’s not your fault. It’s considered an occasional characteristic of mainly dense, cut-pile carpet.

However, carpet cleaners can be blamed for this phenomenon, because often this problem isn’t as obvious until after cleaning.

Soils can hide some pile distortion.

If you see what appears to be pile distortion, walk around the room and view it from different angles. If the appearance changes, you know what you have – pile reversal.

Can it be fixed? Rarely. Hot water extraction can help, and a pile lifter can help, but consider this characteristic to be permanent.

Any fix you do is almost always temporary. Educate your client. That’s the best thing to do.

If in doubt if you have pile reversal, you can do two tests. This may help you prove to your client that you are not at fault.

Testing for pile reversal

Lay a piece of paper in an area where you think the pile has been reversed. Under your hand, roll a pen or pencil across the paper. The paper will move in the direction of the pile. The paper follows the path of least resistance.

Then, put the paper where the appearance in the carpet is different. If the paper moves in a different direction from the first test, you have proof the pile does not all lay in the same direction.

The second test is easy. Get on your hands and knees in an area where the pile appears to have changed.

Put a mirror out in front of you, reflecting back towards you. What you are trying to do is see the carpet from two angles at the same time.

This way, you can see how viewing the carpet from one direction is different from another direction.

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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