What is Carpet Pile Reversal?
Pile reversal is an effect in which different areas of the carpet pile surface appear as dark or light patches.
It’s also known as water marking or pooling, although water has nothing to do with it. Some people refer to it as shading, although the term shading can refer to other carpet conditions such as pile pressure, pile flattening or crushing.
It happens in cut pile carpets of any fibre component whether natural or synthetic. It is more apparent in plain carpet than it is in patterned. It is rarely seen in loop pile carpets.
What is Happening?
The shading appearance seen in the carpet pile is when the pile fibres adjust to lay in altered or opposing directions to the normal run or ‘lay’ of the pile. This gives rise to a change in appearance because light then reflects off the sides of the fibres rather than the tips. The sides or tips of the adjacent fibre strands will reflect light in a different way, so the pile displays varying light or dark shades. Again, light that reflects off the tips of the tufts will be less reflective and therefore appear to be a different, possibly darker shade.
What Causes It?
Pile reversal can occur in random areas of a carpet.
A number of reasons for pile reversal have been put forward to try and explain the exact cause, but no specific explanation has yet been established.
It is not considered to be a manufacturing fault but is more likely to be due to the localised influences of the property the carpet is installed in.
Some of the suggested causes are said to be due to variations in sub-floor levels, foot trafficking, tensions created in the carpet during manufacture, changes in humidity or even electro magnetism and static electricity.
The theory that electrical cabling in the property and electronic appliances produce electromagnetic fields suggests that these forces can influence the carpet’s pile lay and force it into patches of unsightly, permanent shading.
Can it Be Corrected?
No existing treatment has been confirmed as effective.
Not much can be done to recover the carpet’s original appearance. Vacuuming or brushing the pile will only provide a short-term change in appearance. The affected pile will soon return to the distorted position, particularly when walked on again.
Steam cleaning has been tried to ‘re-adjust’ the fibres, but they usually revert to type after a short period.
In the meantime, if you suspect that you have pile reversal contact your supplier immediately.
Most new carpets will have some form of warranty and pile reversal may be covered.
But not all are; so I suggest that you discuss this problem with your carpet supplier before making a purchase.