For warmth and softness underfoot, carpet is your choice. Carpet has two components -- face pile and backing. Because the face pile (or yarn fibers) is subject to all the wear and tear, it's your key consideration. Backing is almost never seen once the carpet is installed, but it plays a role in the overall quality. Any carpet measuring more than 54 inches wide is referred to as "broadloom."
Carpet face pile comes in two variations: cut and loop. In cut-pile carpets, individual yarns stand up straight from the backing. In loop-pile construction, the yarn comes out of the backing, loops over, and returns into the backing. Loop-pile carpets with a level surface are called level loops. If the loop height varies, the carpet is a multilevel loop. Most loop piles will perform better than cut piles over the long haul because the loops help evenly distribute the impact of foot traffic. One caveat: Loose loop-pile products, such as berbers, won't hold up as well under heavy traffic, especially if they are made with polypropylene, a less-resilient fiber.
Cut-and-loop, or cut/uncut, carpets combine both pile types to add surface texture, and often blend multiple yarn colors. Sometimes referred to as "sculptured," these multitexture, multicolor carpets hide footprints and soil well.
Generally, the heavier the carpet, the better it will hold up. However, don't select a product based on weight alone. Consider the carpet's density, pile height, and fiber type when comparing different varieties. Many carpets come in good, better, and best choices. These will be similar styles available in the same colors. The difference is usually weight. A retailer might offer a textured saxony in 28, 34, and 40 ounces, for example. If you're budget-conscious, select the heavier product for high-traffic areas and the lower-weight carpet for less-used rooms.