What is Considered High Pile Carpet? [Incld. Examples]

If you are a fan of cushy, comfy flooring underfoot, you might consider a high pile carpet for your home. But what is considered 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. 

A carpet’s pile refers to the visible threads, tufts, or yarn that your carpet is comprised of. This is the carpet’s topmost surface, excluding the backing, where we snuggle in our toes. High pile generally 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.

Please keep reading as we delve into the many facets of a high pile carpet.

Soft textured carpet with vacuum cleaner in the living room, What is Considered High Pile Carpet? [Incld. Examples]

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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 carpet referred to as plush, and indeed, high pile carpeting is known for being extremely soft. Loosely woven, long fibers allow you to sink into the carpet, so high pile carpets tend to be more comfortable and warmer compared to low and medium pile options. A high pile or shag carpet gives a tangled, rough look to the room. 

High pile offers a unique style, but this type of carpeting has downsides as well. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of high pile carpet. 


  • 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

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


Think of giving your carpet a haircut, and imagine a crew cut style. A cut-pile carpet is clean-cut, evenly, so the fibers or yarns on the surface are open-ended and the same length. This type of carpeting actually feels softer underfoot compared to a looped pile. It is easy to clean because the open-ended fibers do not trap loose hair, dust, or debris.

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A soft textured carpet

Looped Pile

The fibers of looped pile carpet come up from the backing and loop back down through. Loops can be high, medium, or low and tend to be more loosely gathered than those fibers of a cut-pile carpet. A looped pile can still offer durability, but looped high pile looped in particular is not very dense, so it is not recommended for high traffic areas. A looped pile can be difficult to clean and keep maintained because the loops pose a tripping or snagging hazard and also trap loose hair, dust, debris, and stains easily.

Gray carpet pile

Patterened Pile

Can’t decide between cut-pile or looped? Not to worry, patterned pile carpet combines the two! These carpets offer unique, geometric patterns that form at the surface, such as checkerboard, waves, or diamonds. Rather than have a consistent pile, the combination of cut and looped fibers add texture. Sometimes, a patterned pile incorporates color as well for a more intricate design element.

White lounge with classic furniture

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″

If you plan to carpet high traffic areas (foyers, hallways, etc.), refinished basements, pet-frequented areas, or stairs, a low pile is the best choice. 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, yet where you’d like to remain warm and comfortable such as playrooms, dining rooms, family or living rooms, and bedrooms. Medium pile requires a bit more maintenance but still offers durable density and cushioned comfort.

Shag carpets or high pile are best suited for infrequently traversed bedrooms and formal living rooms. High pile offers the ultimate warmth and comfort, so you can be at ease in your bare feet or be seated on the floor with ample cushioning. However, you’ll want to keep these areas well maintained as the high pile is more difficult to clean (as we’ll discuss in more detail later on).

How do you maintain high pile carpet?

Once your high pile carpet has been installed, it is fairly simple to maintain. You’ll want to avoid wearing shoes on the rug to reduce the amount of debris that can get into the piles. Keep eating and drinking at a minimum in the area to prevent unintended spills and stains. Vacuuming once a week, or even once a month will keep the carpet in good shape.

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?

High traffic areas benefit from dense, low pile carpeting. These piles tend to be more durable because densely packed fibers withstand wear and tear from frequent use. As a result, low pile carpets will wear more evenly in high traffic areas than medium or high pile carpeting, whereas the longer fibers can be easily splayed apart and not readily bounce back.

How do you clean high pile carpet?

Those loose, snuggly fibers or yarns on high pile carpet do invite bare toes, but they also invite and often trap dirt and debris within. High cut-pile can be easier to clean than high looped pile, simply because it is easier to get in 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 located in a moderate traffic area. If your carpet does not get a lot of 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. If it is an area rug, turn it over and vacuum the backing as well. 

Carpet with vacuum cleaner in living room

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, found here

Dry Shampooing Or Steam Cleaning

A deep clean can really unearth trapped grime and release lingering odors from the high fibers of shag carpet. Some homeowners prefer using dry shampoo, while others prefer steam cleaning. Either method will release trapped dirt with a minimal amount of water used so that the thick carpeting will thoroughly dry. Dry shampoo or steam clean your carpet at least once a year.

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. 

Click here to see dry carpet shampoo on Amazon.

Steam cleaning is a non-toxic method to sanitize your carpeting. Hot, pressurized steam will loosen deeply set dirt and grime to release it from the high pile fibers. Minimal water usage allows the carpet to dry with ease, so there is a low risk of mildew forming or foul odors due to damp carpeting. 

Click here to see a heavy-duty steam cleaner on Amazon.

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 to dry thoroughly. 

Sometimes stains are caked on, like dried mud or playdough. 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 loosed debris from the carpet.

If you’ve got a lingering odor in an otherwise seemingly stain-free carpet, use baking soda to remove the scent. Sprinkle an ample portion of 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.

Final Thoughts

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

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