High Pile Carpet: The Pros and Cons

Consider a high-pile carpet for your home if you are a fan of cushy, comfy flooring underfoot. But what is considered a high pile? If you’re picturing a shag carpet, you’ve got the right idea! We’ve researched high-pile carpeting to get you all the information you’ll need on placement, maintenance, and style.

There are many types of carpets, but all contain a few threads, tufts, or yarn. Carpet pile refers to your carpet’s visible threads, tufts, or yarn. This is the carpet’s topmost surface where we snuggle in our toes. A high pile measures between 1/2″ and 3/4″ and can be either cut-pile or looped. Depending on the carpet’s material, pile texture can be fine, coarse, soft, or rugged.

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What is Considered High Pile Carpet?

Pile height is typically specified within three categories; low, medium, and high. You might often hear high-pile carpeting referred to as plush, which is known for being extremely soft. Loosely woven, long fibers allow you to sink into the carpet, so high-pile carpets are more comfortable and warmer than low and medium-pile options. A high pile of shag carpet gives the room a tangled, rough look.

High pile offers a unique style, but this carpeting also has downsides. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of high-pile carpets.


  • An incredibly soft and luxurious feel
  • Provides warmth
  • Looped tufts are less likely to flatten over time (compared to cut-pile)
  • Dampens noise


  • Easily indented by furniture and footsteps
  • Not recommended for stairs
  • Not recommended for high-traffic areas
  • Entraps dust, dander, and debris; might not be ideal for allergy sufferers
  • Difficult to remove stains

Types of High Pile Carpet

A luxurious choice, high pile carpet offers various styles to hand-select the best colors and textures to coordinate with your home. However, please note that you can select any pile height for these carpet types.


a chair in a room

Imagine giving your carpet a haircut and having it cut in a crew-cut style. This style is clean-cut and evenly spaced, so the fibers are open-ended and the same length. This makes the carpet feel softer underfoot because it is easy to clean – there is less debris trapped in the open ends of the fibers.

Looped Pile

a living room filled with furniture and a large window

The loops in a looped pile carpet are higher in loops and tend to be more loosely gathered than those loops in a cut-pile carpet. Looped piles can still offer durability, but a high-looped pile is not very dense, so it is not recommended for high-traffic areas.

A looped pile can be difficult to clean and maintain because the loops pose a tripping or snagging hazard and easily trap loose hair, dust, debris, and stains.

Patterned Pile

a living room with a couch and a table

Need help deciding between cut-pile or looped? Not to worry, the patterned pile carpet combines the two! These carpets offer unique geometric patterns that form at the surface, such as checkerboards, waves, or diamonds. Rather than have a consistent pile, combining cut and looped fibers adds texture.

Sometimes, a patterned pile incorporates color for a more intricate design element.

What is a good carpet pile height?

Let’s take a quick look at carpet heights to better understand what might be the best for your home:

Low-pile carpet is typically less than 1/4″

Medium pile carpeting is typically 1/4″ to 1/2″

High pile carpeting measures 1/2″ to 3/4″

A low pile is best if you plan to carpet high-traffic areas (foyers, hallways, etc.), refinished basements, pet-frequented areas, or stairs. It offers high durability and low maintenance. A low pile is a great option for open floorplans, where you intend to run the same type of carpeting throughout. It is also slip-resistant to keep stairways safe.

Medium pile carpet is a good choice for lower-traffic areas where you want to remain warm and comfortable, such as playrooms, dining rooms, family or living rooms, and bedrooms. Medium pile requires much maintenance but still offers durable density and cushioned comfort.

Shag carpets or high piles can be great for rarely traversed areas, such as formal living rooms and bedrooms. High-pile carpets offer warmth and comfort while also being easy to clean. However, it is important to keep these areas well-maintained as high-pile carpets can be more difficult to clean than other carpets.

How do you maintain high pile carpet?

Though it can be easy to keep your high-pile carpet in good condition, it is important to avoid wearing shoes and spilling or staining. Vacuuming every week or month will help keep the carpet clean and free of dirt, dust, and sweat.

Regularly shifting or rearranging the furniture atop the high pile will promote even wear. Or, if yours is an area rug, you can rotate the entire carpet occasionally to prevent deep indentations and excess wear where foot traffic flows.

What is the best high-traffic carpet?

Dense, low-pile carpeting is more durable because it resists wear and tears from frequent use. This means that low-pile carpets will wear more evenly in high-traffic areas than medium or high-pile carpeting, whereas the longer fibers can be easily spread out and not bounce back.

How do you clean high pile carpet?

Those loose, snuggly fibers or yarns on high-pile carpets invite bare toes, but they also invite and often trap dirt and debris within. A high-cut pile can be easier to clean than a high-looped pile simply because it is easier to get between the fibers to remove dirt and debris. Use these tips for routine cleaning to avoid deep-set dust and gunk.


Stay ahead of dirt buildup by vacuuming your high-pile carpet once a week, especially if it’s in a moderate-traffic area. If your carpet gets a little foot traffic, vacuuming once a month will do. Make sure you set the vacuum to the tallest height setting.

Avoid using a powered, rotating vacuum brush on a high pile, as the bristles can snag to damage the pile, especially on the looped type. Turn it over and vacuum the backing if it is an area rug.

Does Roomba work on high pile carpet?

A Roomba can manage the height of a high pile carpet. For example, check out some of the best-rated robotic vacuums for this tall task.

Dry Shampooing Or Steam Cleaning

Dry shampooing is a popular option for removing dirt and smells from shag carpets. Steam cleaning is an effective way to clean the carpet without using water. The two methods are equally effective in revealing any trapped dirt and releasing lingering smells.

Sprinkle dry shampoo onto the entire carpet, and wriggle your fingers or a soft bristle brush between the fibers to enable the granules to settle deeply into the fibers. Let it sit for approximately one hour (or follow the instructions provided on the cleanser). Vacuum thoroughly after the time has elapsed.

Steam cleaning is a great way to clean your carpeting. The hot, pressurized steam will loosen deeply set dirt and grime to release it from the high pile fibers. There is very little water usage, so the carpet can dry quickly without any risk of mildew or foul odors.

Stain Removal

Immediately soaking up spills by blotting with a dry cloth will help to prevent stains in the first place. But for those, you cannot avoid, use equal parts of water and white wine vinegar to make a cleaning solution for the stain.

Either spray the cleaning solution onto the area or dab using a cloth. Gently work the solution into the fibers, sop any excess solution, and then allow it to dry thoroughly.

To remove dry stains, gently break apart the caked-on mess using a spatula (or another smooth-edged utensil). Then, vacuum the area to pull the loose debris from the carpet.

Use baking soda to remove the scent if you’ve got a lingering odor in an otherwise seemingly stain-free carpet. Sprinkle a great baking soda over the area and gently work it into the high-pile fibers. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes, then vacuum.

The baking soda will absorb the odors, leaving you with a fresh-smelling carpet.


High-pile carpeting is soft and luxurious yet offers a rugged style for any room. Use cut-pile, looped, or patterned piles to adorn your floors or for an area throw rug. You’ll want to vacuum high piles regularly and avoid placing them in high-traffic areas for the best maintenance.

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Lisa Finster

I'm a writer and blogger with a passion for storytelling. I love to write about anything from food to fashion, travel, and more.

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